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Ben Hwang
Relays Shine in Losses to Virginia
Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Release: 01/20/2013
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. - The Duke men's and women's swimming teams resumed Atlantic Coast Conference regular season competition Sunday, falling to reigning conference champions Virginia at the University of Virginia Aquatic and Fitness Center. The Blue Devil women suffered a 152.5-122.5 loss to the 10th-ranked Virginia women, while the Duke men fell to the 15th-ranked Cavaliers by a 153-140 score.

Despite the losses, the Blue Devil swimmers had a number of highlights in the dual meet, including wins in three of the four relay events.

"Our swimmers have really taken pride in the relays these last couple years," said head coach Dan Colella. "The fact that the relays are a team event and you get up there with three of your teammates to represent the university is always great. We always have great efforts put forth on our relays."

In an exciting opening to the meet, Duke edged the Cavaliers for a pair of victories in the women's and men's 200-yard medley relay events. Sophomore Megan McCarroll, junior Christine Wixted, junior Lauren Weaver and freshman Chelsea Ye teamed up for a 1:43.64 clocking to take first on the women's side, while the men's team of junior Steven Gasparini, junior Hunter Knight, freshman Sam Skinner and senior Ben Hwang followed with a win at 1:31.21.

Freshman Meghan Price touched in a season-best time of 10:42.80 to finish third in the women's 1,000 freestyle before McCarroll (56.67) and Gasparini (50.81) both took third in the 100 backstroke events. The Blue Devils then picked up two wins in the women's and men's 100 breaststroke, with Wixted taking first in the event for the fifth time this season at 1:04.66. Hunter Knight just missed an NCAA provisional standard on the men's side, clocking 55.41 for his second-fastest time of the year at the 100-yard distance.

Hwang registered his third NCAA 'B' cut of the season in the men's 50 freestyle, besting the field with a time of 20.11. The senior from Cerritos, Calif., also took the 100 freestyle title with a 45.05 swim, his second-fastest of the year. Meanwhile, the women's 50 freestyle saw Weaver tap the wall at 23.19 to finish just behind Virginia's Lauren Perdue (23.17) in second.

Following a second-place showing by McCarroll in the 200 backstroke (2:02.55), Hunter Knight completed his sweep of the breaststroke events, placing first at the 200-yard distance in 2:02.53. Knight has now posted wins in both breaststroke events in four of six outings this season. Senior Emily Barber paced the Duke women in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:25.43 swim to finish third and freshman Kiera Molloy rounded out the individual events with a third-place finish in the 400 IM (4:27.34).

The Duke men capped the afternoon with a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay, as Gasparini, Skinner, senior Adam Flur and Hwang went 1:22.39 to outtouch the Cavaliers. The women's team of senior Francesca Tocci, Ye, Weaver and freshman Kathryn Eckhart took second behind Virginia with a time of 1:35.35.

The Blue Devil divers competed against Virginia Saturday evening in Charlottesville, with junior Nick McCrory turning in a pair of second-place finishes on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards. Senior Jordan Long placed third in both events and both he and McCrory surpassed the NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualifying standards on both boards. On the women's side, freshman Kendall McClenney took third at the 1-meter height with a score of 263.55.  

"We knew coming into the meet that we were swimming one of the top programs in the ACC," Colella said. "Our goal was to go in and race and to not back down from the challenges that we were going to up against. I'm very proud of the way this team performed today. We feel good about the way everybody performed and we're looking forward to competing against North Carolina next weekend."

Following Sunday's meet, the Blue Devil women move to 2-5 overall and 1-4 in the ACC while the Duke men fall to 1-5 overall and 0-4 in conference action.

The Blue Devils will make the short trip to Chapel Hill, N.C. next weekend to close out the dual meet portion of their schedule against North Carolina. The meet will get underway at 12 p.m. at the Tar Heels' Koury Natatorium.