DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke men's and women's swimming and diving teams are set to conclude regular season dual meet action Saturday, Jan. 26 when they make the short trip to Chapel Hill, N.C. to face North Carolina. The meet between the two Atlantic Coast Conference rivals will get underway at 12 p.m. at the Tar Heels' Koury Natatorium.
Fans should stay tuned to GoDuke.com for any possible changes to the meet start time due to inclement weather. Updates will also be sent out on Twitter (@Duke_SWIM_DIVE). Live results and live video will be available for Saturday's meet.
Last Time Out
Last weekend saw the Blue Devils travel to Charlottesville, Va., where they faced a pair of nationally-ranked Virginia squads. The Cavaliers emerged victorious on both sides, with the Duke women falling by a score of 152.5-122.5 and the men suffering a 153-140 loss.
Despite the losses, the Blue Devils had a number of highlights in the meet, including wins in three of the four relay events. 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. The men's team of junior Steven Gasparini, freshman Sam Skinner, senior Adam Flur and senior Ben Hwang also closed the afternoon on a high note, outtouching the Cavaliers for a first-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay (1:22.39).
Individually, Hwang achieved his third NCAA provisional standard of the season in the 50 freestyle, besting the field with a time of 20.11. The Cerritos, Calif., native also won the 100 freestyle with a 45.05 swim. Junior Hunter Knight was also a double winner for Duke, sweeping the breaststroke events for the fourth time in six outings this year. Junior Nick McCrory led the Blue Devil divers with a pair of second-place finishes in both springboard events while also surpassing NCAA Zone Diving qualifying standards at both heights.
On the women's side, junior Christine Wixted won the 100 breaststroke for the fifth time this season with a mark of 1:04.66 and classmate Lauren Weaver finished just .02 seconds behind Virginia's Lauren Perdue to take second in the 50 freestyle.
Duke in the Conference and National Landscape
With an overall record of 2-5 and a 1-4 mark in the ACC, the Duke women are currently sixth in the conference standings. Meanwhile the Blue Devil men are 1-5 overall and 0-4 against conference competition to come in at eighth in the ACC standings.
Members of the men's and women's teams have turned in some of the nation's top times of the season, according to CollegeSwimming.com. Senior Hwang's time of 20.03 in the 50 freestyle is the 32nd-best time in the country and the fifth-best in the ACC while Knight is ranked 49th nationally in the 100 breast with a 54.86 clocking, which is also good for the third-best time in the conference. Knight also owns the ACC's second-best time of the season in the 200 breaststroke at 1:59.80.
The women's 200 freestyle relay of Weaver, Wixted and freshmen Kathryn Eckhart and Chelsea Ye recorded a time of 1:33.32 at the Tennessee Invitational for the 49th-best clocking in the nation and fifth-best in the conference. Wixted is also ranked nationally in the 100 breaststroke (28th, 1:01.02) and the 200 IM (39th, 1:59.55), and leads the ACC in the 100 breaststroke and ranks second at the 200-yard distance. In addition, Weaver is ranked fifth in the conference in the 50 freestyle (22.83).
On the boards, McCrory is second in the conference in 1-meter diving with a season-best score of 379.50. McCrory also ranks fourth at the 3-meter height while senior Jordan Long comes in at sixth. Senior Abby Johnston ranks fifth in the league in the women's 1-meter event with a season-best mark of 309.83.
Scouting the Competition
Both the North Carolina men (4-1, 1-1 ACC) and women (3-2, 1-1 ACC) are ranked 16th nationally by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America heading into this weekend's action.
Stephanie Peacock leads the ACC in the women's 500 (4:34.42), 1,000 (9:28.92) and the 1,650 (15:37.06) freestyle events and has collected NCAA 'A' cuts at the 500 and 1,650-yard distance. The Tar Heels' Katie Nolan sits atop the league with a 52.82 clocking in the 100 butterfly while teammate Cari Blalock has notched the top time of the season in the 200 butterfly at 1:56.63.
On the men's side, J.T. Stilley owns the second-fastest time in the ACC in the 500 freestyle at 4:21.68 while Brett Nagle leads the league in the 1,650 freestyle with a 15:07.96 mark. Nic Graesser ranks second in the 100 backstroke (48.18), as does Matt Kwatyra in the 200 IM (1:48.54), and Tom Luchsinger ranks first in the conference in the 200 butterfly (1:45.16).
In last year's regular season meeting between Duke and North Carolina, the Tar Heels claimed victories in both the men's (165-121) and women's (178-111) competitions. Piotr Safronczyk eclipsed the Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion record in the 100 breaststroke at 55.79 while Wixted broke the facility record in the 200 breaststroke with a 2:15.98 swim.
Head Coach Dan Colella on his expectations for Saturday's meet: "North Carolina is always a big date on our calendar because of the rivalry between Duke and UNC. Like last weekend, UNC is nationally-ranked and has a tradition of excellence in swimming and diving. We are expecting to continue to give them some great races. Last weekend, one of the things we talked to our team about is we had more wins against Virginia than we've ever had before. And we want to carry that same energy into the meet this weekend. It's the seniors' last dual meet, so that always adds to the energy. We're just looking forward to a great day of competition."