DURHAM, N.C. – As the Blue Devil men get set for the start of the 2014 ACC Championship Wednesday evening in Greensboro, N.C., GoDuke.com sat down with two-time All-ACC performer Hunter Knight to learn more about the senior swimmer’s expectations for the meet.
GoDuke.com: How are you feeling individually heading into the ACC meet?
Hunter Knight: I’m feeling really good. I was faster than last year throughout most of the dual meet season and I know I’m stronger. I feel a lot more broken down this year so I’m excited to see what taper is going to produce. As we’ve been coming down, I’ve been feeling a lot better and a lot faster. The coaches are really excited for me and I’m excited as well.
GoDuke.com: What are you expecting from the other swimmers in the conference when it comes to the breaststroke events?
HK: It’s going to be a tight race. It was tight last year. It’s a very deep conference, especially in breaststroke. But I look forward to the challenge. The better the competition, the better everyone will do. I’m really excited that I get to race some high-class swimmers.
GoDuke.com: How are things looking for the team’s relays?
HK: We’re really excited about our relays. We’re going into the meet expecting to shock a lot of people. That’s been our goal all season. We always taper really well – we have every year that I’ve been here. Relays are relays, they’re the best part of the meet.
GoDuke.com: What does it say about the Duke program to have so many freshmen and new faces on the ACC team this year?
HK: It’s a great sign. When I came here, one of my goals was to help the team improve and that’s definitely happened in terms of recruiting and also the caliber of talent we have here. It’s been a lot of fun to see our team grow and to see this [freshman] class grow as well. Over the past few months they’ve improved a lot and I think it will show.
GoDuke.com: Watching the success the women’s team had last week at ACCs, how does that inspire the men’s team to go out and perform well this week?
HK: It really sets the tone and gets us excited to race. I think all of us wanted to swim last weekend, but we had to wait, obviously. It helps get everyone’s mindset right. And watching the girls swim fast helps us to know that we’re going to swim really well also. It’s also cool that it’s close enough that we can go and watch them.
GoDuke.com: How have Nick McCrory’s outstanding performances in diving inspired the rest of the men’s team?
HK: I love watching Nick dive – even in practice. It’s amazing to see the level of skill he has. It’s been really inspiring to me because we [the men’s swimmers] haven’t exactly carried our own on the NCAA side of things, and I hope we can change that this year and get him some more support. It’s just an honor to be on the team with him.