Courtesy: Duke Sports Information
Head coach Dan Colella has helped the Duke men's and women's swimming and diving squads make great strides in each of his seven years at the helm of the program.
Under Colella's direction, the Blue Devils logged another banner season for the program in 2011-12. In the pool, seniors Piotr Safronczyk (100 breaststroke) and Ben Tuben (100 butterfly) earned a 29th-place finish for the Duke men at the NCAA Championships while also becoming the first Blue Devil swimmers to receive All-America honors and score at an NCAA Championships meet in over 30 years. In addition, Safronczyk and Tuben joined Steven Gasparini and Ben Hwang on the Blue Devils' 200 medley relay team that set an Atlantic Coast Conference record with a 1:25.98 clocking in March.
At the 2012 ACC Championships, Safronczyk captured the conference title in the 100 breaststroke and earned All-ACC honors in both breaststroke events to lead the Duke men to a seventh-place finish. The Blue Devils also placed two relays (200 medley, 400 medley) on the podium. On the women's side, Jessica Lyden won the ACC crown on the 3-meter springboard and Christine Wixted took home a pair of All-ACC accolades in the 100 and 200 breaststroke as the squad placed ninth overall.
The Blue Devil men broke 14 school records and the women 10 during the course of the season. The program also continued its tradition of excellence in the classroom, placing four student-athletes on All-ACC Academic teams and 33 on the ACC Academic Honor Roll. In addition, Lyden became the first Blue Devil to garner Academic All-America first team recognition.
The Duke program also had a historic showing on the national and international scenes following the conclusion of the NCAA collegiate season, as nine Colella-coached swimmers competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb., including 2011 graduate Ashley Twichell, who also won 5K and 10K open water swimming national championships in April. Meanwhile, Duke divers Abby Johnston and Nick McCrory both turned in strong performances at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Diving to qualify for the 2012 Olympic Games. In London, Johnston and partner Kelci Bryant captured the United States' first medal in a synchronized diving event, taking silver in the women's synchronized 3-meter competition. McCrory and David Boudia followed suit, winning the bronze in the men's synchonized 10-meter platform. McCrory also finished ninth in the men's individual 10-meter platform competition.
The 2010-11 season also boasted a handful of program firsts for both the Duke swimmers and divers. The men's and women's teams each broke into the top 20 nationally at the 2011 NCAA Championships, with the Blue Devil women earning a 19th-place finish overall to break into the top 20 for the first time in program history. In addition, Duke had five student-athletes qualify for the NCAA Championships, marking the highest total in program history. McCrory collected his second consecutive national title on the platform, breaking his own record with a new championships score of 548.90. Johnston captured the first national title for the women's program on the 3-meter springboard, while also taking fifth on the 1-meter board. In the pool, senior All-America swimmer Twichell posted the best finish of her collegiate career, placing fifth in the women's 1,650 freestyle with a time of 15:56.73. Fellow senior Nick Garvy turned in a school record-breaking performance in the 100 fly, finishing 23rd overall in 46.85.
The Blue Devils also saw unparalleled success at the 2011 ACC Championships, with the men's team breaking into the top five overall and setting 15 new program records. Duke's 200 free relay of Hwang, Spencer Booth, Tuben and Garvy shattered the school record with a mark of 1:18.52 and collected a gold medal at the conference meet, another first for the program. Garvy took home All-ACC honors in the 100 fly, finishing third in 46.94, while McCrory captured ACC titles in the 1-meter and 3-meter events and earned ACC Diver of the Year honors. On the women's side, the Blue Devils finished seventh as a team while breaking 12 program records. Twichell claimed her second ACC title in the 1,650 free and established three new school records. Johnston defended her 1-meter and 3-meter titles to garner ACC Diver of the Year honors, and freshman Haley Ishimatsu earned the ACC title in platform diving.
Under Colella's watch, the program record books continued to be rewritten during the 2009-10 and 2008-09 campaigns. The Blue Devil men set five program records at the 2010 ACC Championships to finish seventh, while one record, set by McCrory, was broken at the 2010 NCAA Championships. In a standout freshman season, McCrory set records in each of the diving disciplines and brought home an NCAA Championship on the platform. Colella also led the women to an impressive 6-5 finish for the 2009-10 season, qualifying two individuals for the NCAA Championships. At the NCAAs, Johnston took fourth in 1-meter diving while Twichell broke her own record by finishing 14th in the 1,650 free.
In 2008-09, the Duke men accrued an overall record of 6-3 (2-3 ACC) to double the previous year's win total. The Blue Devils also shattered the previous standard in 18 of a total 22 events. Keeping pace with the men, the women posted 17 school records of their own, including bests in all four relays. Twichell returned to the NCAA Championships for her second year in a row, accompanied by freshman diving standout Johnston. Johnston dove to a fifth-place finish in the nation, earning All-America honors for herself and single-handedly providing Duke with its best team finish in program history.
The 2007-08 season saw the Blue Devils set eight school records on the men's side during the year, with four coming in individual events and four in relays. Meanwhile, the women's team finished 8-4, taking sixth at the 2007-08 conference meet. The Blue Devil women set 12 school records, while two individuals - Twichell and Shannon Beall - recorded Olympic Trial cuts and competed at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Omaha, Neb. Twichell was also an automatic qualifier for the NCAA Championships as she posted an 'A' cut in the 1,650 free, making her the first Duke athlete to advance to the national meet since 2004. She took 16th in the event, earning All-America honors, the first since Olympian Nancy Hogshead in 1981.
In 2006-07, the Blue Devil men compiled a record of 4-5 (1-4 ACC), notching one more win than in the previous campaign, while the women's squad went 5-4 (1-4 ACC) on the year, securing a winning record and posting five victories for the second straight season. At the 2007 ACC Championships, the Duke men placed ninth while the women took eighth place, two places higher than the squad's finish in 2006.
Colella's first season at Duke saw the men's team match its win total from 2004-05 and the women's team nearly double its previous season's total. Both the men and the women posted an ACC dual meet victory for the first time in seven and 12 years, respectively. At the ACC Championships, the women's team established three school records and the men two. Senior Katie Ness earned All-ACC honors while notching four NCAA 'B' standard times as her team claimed the ACC Sportsmanship Award. Ness was also named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District III list.
Colella came to Duke after a successful 12-year tenure as the head coach of the women's swimming program at the University of Tennessee. Ten of Colella's 12 teams at Tennessee finished in the nation's top 25. At the 2005 NCAA Championships, his team garnered 11 All-America honors and broke five school records. Colella has coached 34 student-athletes to a total of 143 All-America honors and 18 of his student-athletes earned Southeastern Conference titles.
In just his third year of serving as the head coach at Tennessee, Colella guided one of the school's most successful teams to a top-10 showing at the NCAA Championships. Along the way, Colella's student-athletes notched 30 All-America nods and Nicole deMan won the school's first NCAA individual championship in the 50 free.
Colella arrived at Tennessee in 1990 as the assistant women's swimming coach and served in that capacity until being promoted to head coach in 1993. From 1986-90 he was the assistant swimming coach at Indian River Community College in Fort Pierce, Fla., where he helped guide his team to four NJCAA men's and women's championships.
Colella's coaching accomplishments have not been limited to the collegiate level, as he has tutored athletes who have competed in the Olympic Games, Olympic Trials, Pan American Games, Pan Pacific Games, World Championships and World University Games. Three of his swimmers made appearances at the 2004 Olympic Trials and nine competed at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials, while former Tennessee swimmer Fabiola Molina represented Brazil at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney.
Colella earned a bachelor's degree in natural resource management and geology from Sewanee: The University of the South in 1984. In addition to being a member of the Order of the Gownsmen, an academic honor society, and Beta Theta Pi, Colella was a member of the school's swimming team. He served as captain for two years and earned three accolades as the team's MVP from 1981-83, as well as two Southern College Athletic Conference titles - the 100 and 200 backstroke in 1981. Specializing in butterfly and the IM events, Colella was the university's all-time leading scorer in championship meets when he graduated.
Colella and his wife, Victoria, have four children - Henry, George, Ellinor, and Caroline - and reside in Chapel Hill, N.C.