GREENSBORO, N.C. - Junior Nick McCrory became the most decorated diver in the history of the Atlantic Coast Conference and junior Christine Wixted took home her second silver medal of the week as Duke closed out the 2013 ACC Women's Swimming & Diving Championships Saturday in record-breaking fashion. The Blue Devil women finished seventh in the final team standings - up two spots from a year ago - while setting 14 program records over the course of the four-day meet.
"We were really excited about the energy of the team this weekend and the direction that we're going in," said head coach Dan Colella. "We have a lot of great things to build off of and we had some big highlights again tonight with people getting back for finals. Thirteen school records - you can't ask for a whole lot more when you have a meet like that."
The Duke swimmers kicked off the final session of the championship meet with a pair of strong showings in the 200-yard backstroke. After collecting a personal best and an NCAA provisional standard during the preliminaries with a 1:58.39 clocking, sophomore Megan McCarroll returned to take 13th in the final at 1:59.30. McCarroll was joined by senior and program record holder Cara Vogel, who dropped time from her morning swim to go 2:00.29 in the bonus final, finishing 17th overall.
Junior Lauren Weaver continued to etch her name into the program record books, surpassing Shannon Beall's four-year old mark of 50.53 in the 100 freestyle twice Saturday. Weaver tapped the wall at 50.20 in the event preliminaries before breaking the record again in the finals at 50.18, good for 11th place overall. She also garnered the first All-ACC accolades of her career Friday with a third-place showing in the 50 freestyle. Meanwhile, freshman Kathryn Eckhart also advanced to the 100 freestyle finals, turning in a personal-best 50.99 performance to finish 22nd.
The next event saw Wixted earn a silver medal for the second time in as many days, as the Greenwood Village, Colo., native broke her own school record twice on her way to placing second in the conference in the 200 breaststroke. She posted an NCAA provisional-qualifying time of 2:10.19 in the final to touch just behind Weron Paluszek of Virginia Tech, claiming the second All-ACC accolades of the meet and fourth of her career.
"The last few years have been kind of frustrating for her, coming up a little bit short," Colella said. "To see her finally get over that hurdle and have a shot at NCAAs is exciting. We're really proud of Christine and the way she performed this weekend."
Sophomore Katherine Plevka added points for the Blue Devils in the 200 breaststroke as well, coming in 14th with a mark of 2:17.60. Plevka also notched a personal best during the morning session with a 2:16.97 swim.
Duke also picked up points in the final of the 200 butterfly, as sophomore Ali Horn placed 14th in 2:00.49. Horn also clocked a best time in the event preliminaries at 1:59.86, while freshman Kiera Molloy continued what has been an outstanding ACC Championships debut, grabbing a personal best in the bonus final of the same event at 2:03.54 to finish 17th. Another Blue Devil rookie, Meghan Price, excelled in the 1,650 freestyle with a personal-best 17:25.71 performance.
McCrory added to a growing list of accomplishments Saturday, winning the men's platform competition for the first sweep of the three diving crowns by a male diver in ACC history. The junior from Chapel Hill, N.C., totaled 515.20 points to win the platform final, including an award of 97.20 on a back 2 ½ somersault with 2 ½ twists in the pike position on his opening round dive. After taking the 1-meter and 3-meter springboard titles earlier in the meet, McCrory has now captured seven ACC diving crowns for his career, making him the winningest diver in the history of the conference. He also received Most Valuable Male Diver recognition for the third time in his career at the conclusion of the meet.
"We were excited to watch Nick all weekend," Colella said. "The whole coaching staff and program are really proud of him and everything he has accomplished."
Freshman Jaimee Gundry advanced to the final of the women's platform diving event, coming in seventh with a personal-best score of 252.30 in the finals, while fellow rookie Kendall McClenney scored for Duke with a 14th-place showing (207.00) in the preliminaries. Freshman Deon Reid also earned a 14th-place finish on the men's side, totaling 281.10 points in the preliminary round.
The final event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay, saw Weaver, freshman Chelsea Ye, Eckhart and Wixted finish seventh and break a program record with a time of 3:21.43. Weaver led off the relay with a 50.37 split for her third-fastest time of the season at the 100-yard distance.
In the morning preliminaries, several other Blue Devil swimmers achieved personal-best swims in the 100 freestyle. Ye led the way with a 51.45 clocking, while junior Kelly Hagerty (51.55), junior Eneka Lamb (52.41) and sophomore Caroline Conklin (53.95) also closed out the meet with best times.
The Duke women totaled 246 points over the course of four days to finish seventh as a team. The Virginia women claimed their sixth consecutive ACC title with a team score of 832 points, while Virginia Tech took second (536) and North Carolina third (508).
During the ACC Championships, the Blue Devils broke program records in the 50 freestyle (Weaver - 22.27), 100 freestyle (Weaver twice at 50.20 and 50.18), 100 backstroke (McCarroll - 54.27), 100 breaststroke (Wixted - 59.95), 200 breaststroke (Wixted twice at 2:10.93 and 2:10.19), 400 IM (Molloy twice at 4:20.53 and 4:19.76), 200 freestyle relay (Weaver, Ye, Wixted, Eckhart - 1:30.56), 400 freestyle relay (Weaver, Ye, Eckhart, Wixted - 3:21.43), 800 freestyle relay (Ye, Molloy, Hagerty, Horn - 7:22.12), 200 medley relay (McCarroll, Wixted, Weaver, Eckhart - 1:39.80) and the 400 medley relay (McCarroll, Emily Barber, Horn, Weaver - 3:40.54). Duke swimmers also turned in three podium finishes, with Weaver taking third in the 50 freestyle and Wixted earning a pair of All-ACC honors in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.
The Blue Devils return to the Greensboro Aquatic Center Feb. 27-March 2 for the 2013 Men's ACC Championships.
Final Team Standings
2. Virginia Tech
3. North Carolina
4. Florida State
5. NC State
8. Georgia Tech
9. Boston College