DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke swimmers and divers honored the program’s senior class with four dual meet swimming victories and a sweep of the springboard diving events Saturday on an action-packed afternoon at Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.
The 20th-ranked Blue Devil women and the Duke men both cruised past Queens University of Charlotte and William & Mary in head-to-head competition in the pool, while the program’s divers excelled against the divers of UNCW.
Freshman Easop Lee led the charge for the swimmers individually, capturing wins in the women’s 200-yard freestyle, 200 backstroke and 200 individual medley, while senior Max St. George took first in both the men’s backstroke events. The Blue Devils’ senior class accounted for a number of impressive performances on the day, as Sean Tate claimed the men’s 100 breaststroke, Maddie Hess the women’s 50 freestyle, Yusuke Legard the men’s 100 freestyle and Judd Howard the 200 breaststroke. Seniors also contributed to Duke’s relay success, as the squads took three of the four relay events on the day.
“This group has continued to reinforce what their attitudes, the culture, the work has been doing for them in terms of results,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Today is probably one of the better meets we’ve had after a training trip. Just a lot of great performances. Across the board, people raced incredibly well.”
In diving, seniors Mackenzie Willborn (340.65) and Evan Moretti were victorious on the three-meter springboard, with Moretti’s award of 414.23 marking a career best. Freshman Maddi Pullinger (300.15) took first in the one-meter competition, as did junior Nathaniel Hernandez (396.23) for the men. All four Blue Devil winners surpassed NCAA Zone Diving qualification standards with their performances.
“It was really nice to see everyone dive well today,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “They had a lot of fun because we have four diving seniors. They all competed well. The energy was good and having the adrenaline in the meet really helped them complete a dive and do well.”
The Blue Devils also started strong in the pool, earning a pair of wins in the women’s and men’s 200 medley relays. Freshman Shayna Hollander, junior Suzanne Dolan, junior Alyssa Marsh and Hess grabbed the top spot on the women’s side (1:41.20) and the senior-heavy men’s relay of St. George, Tate, Miles Williams and Legard followed suit (1:28.15).
After freshman Lucy Callard claimed the women’s 1,000 freestyle (10:08.83), rookies Lee (1:47.72) and Melissa Pish (1:47.86) finished one-two in the women’s 200 freestyle and Williams was first to the wall in the same event on the men’s side (1:38.24). St. George then collected an individual victory on his Senior Day in the men’s 100 backstroke (48.39) and Marsh (54.32), Hollander (55.16) and senior Mickayla Hinkle (55.56) swept the top three spots in the women’s 100 backstroke.
Seniors Tate (56.12) and Howard (56.34) combined with freshman Cole Reznick (57.06) for a one-two-three showing in the men’s 100 breaststroke. The Blue Devil women had similar success in the 200 butterfly, as freshman Cabell Ann Whitlow (2:00.39) headlined a Duke sweep of the top four places. Hess took the squad into the first diving break with a win in the women’s 50 freestyle (23.16).
Legard added a victory for the sprint lane in the men’s 100 freestyle (44.55) before Lee (1:59.95) and St. George (1:50.14) took first in the women’s and men’s 200 backstroke events. The Blue Devils kept the momentum rolling in the 200 breaststroke, with sophomore Connie Dean (2:19.88) and freshman Zoe Lusk (2:21.67) occupying the top two spots in the women’s event and Howard (2:03.89) and Reznick (2:04.49) doing the same for the men.
Pish bested the field in the women’s 500 freestyle, tapping the wall at 4:52.29, and juniors Kylie Jordan (53.53) and Marsh (53.59) both came in under the NCAA ‘B’ standard to lead a sweep of the top four spots in the women’s 100 butterfly. Lee wrapped up the individual events with her third victory of the day, taking the women’s 200 individual medley at 2:01.99.
The women’s 400 freestyle relay of Pish, Jordan, Hollander and sophomore Carly Perri rounded out the meet with a first-place showing (3:25.09).
“I was really happy seeing a lot of people implementing real small, technical things that we’ve been talking about for the last month,” Colella said. “The exciting part is that when they did it, they got results. We’ve got a three-week block here before we compete against UNC … to be able to train and focus on not only preparation for UNC, but also on getting ready for ACCs and NCAAs.”
Prior to the start of Saturday’s swimming events, Duke celebrated 13 seniors – Hunter Aitchison, Alyssa Arwood, Lizzie Fitzpatrick, Hess, Riley Hickman, Hinkle, Howard, Legard, Moretti, Josh Owsiany, St. George, Tate and Willborn.
“Where we are today and where we were four years ago when this group came in is night and day,” Colella said. “The level of training, the level of competition, it just keeps improving and they’ve been instrumental in that. They’ve been great leaders thus far and I’m sure will continue to be in the final stretch. It’s a group that truly has been impactful. They’re going to be missed greatly, but I know they’re excited to get us across the finish line in really great form.”
Duke rounds out regular season dual meet action at North Carolina Saturday, Feb. 2 at 12 p.m. in the Tar Heels’ Koury Natatorium.
Duke Men 147.5, William & Mary Men 113.5
Duke Men 142.5, Queens University of Charlotte Men 118.5
Queens University of Charlotte Men 148, William & Mary Men 113
Duke Women 178, William & Mary Women 78
Duke Women 163, Queens University of Charlotte Women 93
Queens University of Charlotte Women 151, William & Mary Women 110
Women’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Shayna Hollander, Suzanne Dolan, Alyssa Marsh, Maddie Hess (1st), 1:41.20
Men’s 200-Yard Medley Relay: Max St. George, Sean Tate, Miles Williams, Yusuke Legard (1st), 1:28.15
Women’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Melissa Pish, Kylie Jordan, Shayna Hollander, Carly Perri (1st), 3:25.09
Men’s 400-Yard Freestyle Relay: Miles Williams, Nathaniel Hartley, Matthew Whelan, David Hallaron (4th), 3:05.99