ATLANTA – The Blue Devil women qualified a relay to the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive day Tuesday at the 2017 ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships.
Duke also featured a number of standout individual performances to wrap up the second day of the conference championship in fifth place with a total of 315 points.
“We had an exciting session tonight,” said head coach Dan Colella. “The distance group started things off on a high note, winning back-to-back heats. We were able to keep that momentum rolling throughout the evening and are very proud to have a second relay qualify for NCAAs.”
A day after the Blue Devils’ 200-yard medley relay surpassed the NCAA automatic standard, the team of senior Maddie Rusch, sophomore Maddie Hess, freshman Alyssa Marsh and junior Leah Goldman earned an ‘A’ cut in the 200 freestyle relay. The group also broke the previous school record with a time of 1:28.51 to take fifth in the field.
Duke swimmers claimed first in back-to-back finals heats of the 500 freestyle to kick off Tuesday evening’s session. Senior Brittany Friese led a trio of Blue Devils in the bonus final, clocking 4:46.30 for the third-fastest time in program history, an NCAA ‘B’ cut and 17th place overall. Classmate Lindsay Schlichte (4:50.92) and sophomore Hunter Aitchison (4:51.84) followed in 22nd and 23rd, respectively, with Schlichte also lowering her career-best for seventh on Duke’s all-time performance list.
Junior Verity Abel led wire-to-wire in the 500 freestyle consolation final, shaving over four seconds off her preliminaries mark to go 4:45.39. The performance garnered Abel ninth place overall and moved her up seven spots from her finish in the same event at last year’s ACC Championships.
In the 200 individual medley, Goldman kept the momentum rolling with a solid swim in the consolation final. The Burlingame, Calif., native dropped time from the morning session for a 1:57.77 finals mark, placing her second in the heat and 10th overall.
The Blue Devils advanced three swimmers to the 50 freestyle finals, led by Rusch in 10th overall. Rusch raced to the wall in a season-best 22.25 for second in the consolation final, while Hess matched her career best at 22.42 for seventh in the heat and 15th overall. Marsh notched the fourth-fastest time in school history (22.50) in winning the bonus final.
Senior Kirby Quinn earned a top-10 finish in the women’s one-meter diving preliminaries, rounding out her list with an award of 259.30 points. Her highest-scoring dive of the afternoon came in the third round, when she received 52 points on a forward 2 ½ somersault.
Sophomore Mackenzie Willborn (253.60) and junior MaryEllen Targonski (244.70) also collected points for the Blue Devil women in 14th and 23rd place, respectively, while sophomore Lizzie Fitzpatrick was 25th (240.85).
The 2017 ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships continue Wednesday with the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 freestyle, 100 breaststroke, 100 backstroke and 400 medley relay, as well as men’s three-meter diving. Preliminaries start up at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m., with the finals session being broadcast on ACC Network Extra. Live results will also be available.
1) NC State 452.5 2) Virginia 385.5 3) North Carolina 384 4) Louisville 383 5) Duke 315 6) Florida State 297 7) Virginia Tech 266 8) Miami 228 9) Notre Dame 218 10) Pittsburgh 195 11) Georgia Tech 141 12) Boston College 92 13) Clemson 73
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 500-Yard Freestyle: Verity Abel (9th), 4:45.39
Women’s 200-Yard Individual Medley: Leah Goldman (10th), 1:57.77
Women’s 50-Yard Freestyle: Maddie Rusch (10th), 22.25
Women’s One-Meter Diving: Kirby Quinn (10th), 259.30