BOILING SPRINGS, N.C. - The Duke men’s and women’s swimming & diving squads each picked up wins over Gardner-Webb Saturday afternoon, defeating the in-state rivals in a road dual meet at the Gardner-Webb Aquatic Center.
The men improved to 5-1 on the season with their 110-88 victory, while the women stand at 7-1 after edging the Bulldogs by a tally of 113-89. The women now need just one more victory to surpass last season’s win total (8), while the men have already done so (3).
“Today’s meet gave us an opportunity to swim some people in events that we haven’t had a chance to see them perform in this season,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We saw some things today that will definitely benefit us in our later meets and at the ACC Championships.”
The wins came over two Gardner-Webb squads that brought strong records into the meet. The GWU men dropped to 3-2 in dual meets and women to 6-1, as they suffered their first loss of the 2008-09 campaign at the hand of the Blue Devils.
Duke collected victories in 14 of the 18 events on the day, though several student-athletes were able to compete in some different areas for the Blue Devils.
Rose O'Connor (10:14.36) and Jessica Perry (10:24.42) took 1-2 for Duke in the 1000 freestyle, which was followed up by Sean Smith’s first-place finish in the men’s 1000 as he stopped the clock in 9:57.17. O'Connor's performance was a six-second season-best for the freshman. Sophomore Ashley Twichell, who owns the top times in the ACC so far this season in the 500 and 1650 free, was second in the 200 free, though she normally competes in the longer races, coming in at 1:56.15 behind Gardner-Webb’s first finisher.
Shannon Beall, Duke’s top butterfly performer this season, took second for Duke in the 50 freestyle as she tried the new event, coming in at 24.52, while Nick Garvy and Pieter Den Hartog went 1-2 in the men’s 50 free in 22.09 and 22.29, respectively.
The Blue Devils went a solid 1-2-3 in the women’s 400 IM with Emily Kelly (4:34.05), Kaitlin Ray (4:36.75), and Elizabeth Bellew (4:37.20) all touching in ahead of the Bulldogs’ first swimmer. Nathan French and Andrew Clark were 1-2 on the men’s side in the event, clocking 4:17.18 and 4:18.63.
Freshman Steffi Niessl won the 100 fly in 57.40 and Spencer Booth’s 51.98 was good for the win in the men’s race. Beall and Jackie Fasano went 1-2 in the women’s 100 free in 52.71 and 54.49. Beall’s finish was good for the third-fastest swim of the season for the Blue Devils. Meghan Dwyer picked up the victory in the 100 backstroke with her 58.52 and Nick Garvy, Eric Ness, and Ben Tuben went 1-2-3 for the men in the 100 back.
Fasano and Twichell went 1-2 for the women in the 500 free, while Andrew Clark, Andy Osterland, and Den Hartog were 1-2-3 in the men’s. Meredith Bannon was another winner for the Blue Devils in the 100 breast stroke, taking first in 1:04.90, her own and the team's second-fastest time of the season. She was followed by teammate Beall in second in 1:07.06.
In the relays, GWU led off with a victory in the women's 200 medley, while Duke's 'A' squad of Niessl, Bannon, Bellew, and Kirstie Jeffrey was second in 1:58.80. But the Blue Devil men came back with a win in the event as the 'A' team of Murillo Adrados, David Carlson, Ness, and Booth took the race in 1:37.56. Duke's 400 free relay teams then both picked up victories to close out the meet.
Duke will be back in action next weekend as it travels to take on ACC rival Virginia next Sun., Jan. 25 at 1 p.m. in Charlottesville, Va. The Blue Devil women stand at a perfect 3-0 and the men 1-1 so far this season in conference competition.