KNOXVILLE, Tenn. – Blue Devil swimmers and divers totaled 10 top-three individual finishes, took down school records in two events and claimed one individual victory Friday at the Tennessee Invitational. In addition, another day of fast relay racing helped the Duke women remain second and the men third in the team standings heading into Saturday’s final day of competition.
Relay performances continued to be a highlight for the Blue Devils on night two, as the squad’s top teams in the women’s and men’s 200-yard medley relays each took second place. Freshman Shayna Hollander, sophomore Halle Morris, junior Alyssa Marsh and senior Maddie Hess combined to go 1:38.64 on the women’s side, good for sixth on the program’s all-time top 10, before senior Max St. George, senior Sean Tate, junior Miles Williams and senior Yusuke Legard notched the second-fastest mark in school history at 1:25.55.
“The relays thus far and especially tonight – both the 200 medley and the 800 free relays – were absolutely terrific,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We saw a lot of great splits from everybody on those relays. It’s exciting to see how close we are to standards in the sense of, when we’re really ready at ACCs, we’re in a great position to get them. I think it helps to motivate the athletes when they see us hitting these times with a few days of rest.”
Freshman Easop Lee headlined an impressive effort by the Duke women in the 400 individual medley, finishing fourth overall while recording an NCAA provisional cut and the third-fastest time in program history at 4:13.52. Sophomore Connie Dean claimed the ‘B’ final (4:17.86), followed by freshmen Cabell Ann Whitlow in 10th (4:18.03) and Zoe Lusk in 12th (4:22.19). Freshman Shae Nicolaisen also scored in 21st, as did junior Daichi Matsuda (3:58.52) and freshman Everett Werner (4:00.49) in the men’s 400 individual medley ‘B’ final.
Marsh and Kylie Jordan each raced to top-five showings in the women’s 100 butterfly championship final, with Marsh matching her career-best time of 52.10 in a third-place finish. Freshman Matthew Whelan was the Blue Devils’ top performer on the men’s side, taking 10th (49.10).
A thrilling women’s 200 freestyle championship final saw Pish touch second while taking down the school record with a 1:45.54 clocking. She was one of five Duke swimmers across the women’s ‘A’ and ‘B’ finals, with sophomore Carly Perri and freshman Lucy Callard following suit in seventh and eighth, respectively. Five Blue Devils also reached the men’s 200 freestyle finals, led by Williams (1:35.68) and junior Sheldon Boboff (1:37.51) in the championship final.
Seniors Tate and Judd Howard earned spots in the men’s 100 breaststroke ‘A’ final, coming in fourth and sixth, respectively. Dean was Duke’s top finisher on the women’s side, taking 13th.
The 100 backstroke was another loaded event for the women’s squad, with Blue Devils securing five of the eight lanes in the championship final. Marsh notched her second school record of the meet after taking down the record in the 50 freestyle Thursday morning. She was first to the wall in 52.27, followed by Hess in second (53.26) and Hollander in third (54.12). Senior Mickayla Hinkle and sophomore Quinn Scannell were seventh and eighth, respectively. St. George collected a top-three finish in the men’s ‘A’ final (46.77).
“Melissa Pish had a great 200 freestyle and then Alyssa Marsh coming back – a double tonight – and on her second swim breaks the school record and wins the 100 backstroke,” Colella said. “Super proud of those women and everybody tonight.”
In diving, freshman Maddi Pullinger helped the Blue Devil women sweep spots two through seven in the one-meter final, as she took second and senior Mackenzie Willborn third, and junior Nathaniel Hernandez was third in the men’s three-meter event with an award of 386.85.
“As the meet started, all the women were really consistent and had a really good round,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “They were cheering for one another and they were really excited. They had a lot of fun and I saw a lot of smiles and I think the energy carried through … Nathaniel had a really consistent event, a little more consistent than the prelims, and it sets him up well for the championship meets next semester.”
Lee, Pish, Hess and Hollander combined for the third-fastest 800 freestyle relay time in women’s program history (7:11.10) in a second-place showing and Boboff, Williams, Legard and Tate also took second while ranking fourth on the all-time performance list (6:28.47).
“This is a tough day, especially for those swimming the 800 because for a lot of them, it was their third 200 of the day,” Colella said. “That’s a tough triple but they handled it very well. Again, there were a lot of great splits from everyone. Thus far it’s been a great team effort. The energy’s been high, a lot of great racing.”
The meet wraps up Saturday with the 1,650 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, men’s and women’s platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay. Preliminaries begin at 10 a.m., diving preliminaries at 1 p.m. and finals at 6 p.m., in Knoxville, with live results available here.
Women: 1) Tennessee 920.5 2) Duke 716 3) Penn State 391.5 4) Denver 364 5) Penn 188 6) Carson-Newman 98
Men: 1) Tennessee 848 2) Penn 480 3) Duke 429 4) Penn State 410 5) Denver 404 6) Carson-Newman 119
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Shayna Hollander, Halle Morris, Alyssa Marsh, Maddie Hess (2nd), 1:38.64
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Max St. George, Sean Tate, Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard (2nd), 1:25.55
Women’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Easop Lee, Melissa Pish, Maddie Hess, Carly Perri (2nd), 7:11.10
Men’s 800-Yard Freestyle Relay: Sheldon Boboff, Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard, Sean Tate (2nd), 6:28.47