KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Duke placed four swimmers in the championship final of the women’s 100-yard butterfly and took down two program records, while the Blue Devil divers continued to excel on the springboards Friday at the Tennessee Invitational.
The Duke women sit in second place (559 points) and the men in fourth (399) heading into the final day of competition Saturday.
“Two days of really great racing by the men and women,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Probably one of the highlights was the women’s 100 fly tonight, going second, third, fourth and fifth. Just some super swims there. Two team records – Lizzie Devitt got us started in the 400 IM tonight. That was exceptional. She was coming off of a great 200 IM yesterday and built off that momentum. And Max [St. George] going 46.73 and breaking the record, that’s very exciting stuff.”
The Blue Devil divers continued to build on a strong opening-day performance on the springboards, with freshman Teddy Zeng and junior Evan Moretti combining for another two-three finish, this time on the one-meter board. Zeng moved up Duke’s all-time performance list with a season-best award of 345.75, while Moretti came in right behind him at 342.25. The women’s three-meter competition saw junior Mackenzie Willborn, sophomore Jaina Gaudette and freshman Ellie Winslow finish second, third and fourth, respectively.
“The divers had another great day on the boards,” Colella said. They’ve been contributing in a big, big way to that team score. We’re really excited about their performances, as are [head diving coach] Nunzio Esposto and the whole group. I know everybody’s excited and looking forward to the platform tomorrow.”
In the pool, senior Lizzie Devitt kept the momentum rolling, resetting the program benchmark in the women’s 400 individual medley. After clocking a career-best 4:15.76 in preliminaries, the Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif., native went even faster in the championship final, clocking 4:15.10 for fifth overall. Verity Abel came in under the NCAA provisional standard in the same event, winning the consolation final in 4:18.21, while sophomore Daichi Matsuda paced the Duke men with a 14th-place finish (4:02.45).
The women’s 100 butterfly championship final saw senior Leah Goldman come in under 52 seconds (51.80) to headline a quartet of Blue Devils in the heat. Sophomore Alyssa Marsh was third (52.16), followed by Kylie Jordan (52.96) and senior Isabella Paez (53.38).
Duke received a pair of top-eight showings in the 200 freestyle, as sophomore Miles Williams took fourth after moving up to sixth on the program’s all-time top 10 during the morning session (1:37.03), and junior Hunter Aitchison was eighth at 1:50.38. The Blue Devil men then continued to pick up points in the 100 breaststroke, with senior Judd Howard (53.95) placing third and junior Sean Tate (54.63) fifth in the championship final.
Junior Max St. George took down a second school record later on in the men’s 100 backstroke, breaking his own program benchmark with a time of 46.73. That put him second, while in the women’s race, junior Maddie Hess was fifth at 53.36.
The women’s 200 medley relay of Hess, freshman Halle Morris, Marsh and Goldman raced to a fourth-place showing (1:39.55) to open the evening session, and Marsh, Goldman, Jordan and Abel returned to the water at the end of the evening to take second in the 800 freestyle relay. The group’s mark of 7:12.62 ranked it second all-time in Duke history. On the men’s side, Tate, sophomore Sheldon Boboff, senior Nick Bigot and Williams placed third in the 800 freestyle relay, with their mark of 6:34.69 ranking fifth on the Blue Devils’ all-time top 10 list.
“These performances get the team really fueled and fired up for the second half of the season, when we really fully rest and prepare for ACCs,” Colella said.
Competition in Knoxville resumes Saturday morning with swimming preliminaries scheduled for 10 a.m., and diving preliminaries for noon. Finals begin at 6 p.m., with events on tap including the 1,650 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, women’s and men’s platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay.
Duke Women: 2nd/9 (559)
Duke Men: 4th/6 (399)
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Maddie Hess, Halle Morris, Alyssa Marsh, Leah Goldman (4th), 1:39.55
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Max St. George, Judd Howard, Sean Tate, Miles Williams (6th), 1:28.16
Women’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Alyssa Marsh, Leah Goldman, Kylie Jordan, Verity Abel (2nd), 7:12.62
Men’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Sean Tate, Sheldon Boboff, Nick Bigot, Miles Williams (3rd), 6:34.69