DURHAM, N.C. - The Duke University men's swimming team is set to kick off the 2013 Atlantic Coast Conference Swimming & Diving Championships, which get underway Wednesday, Feb. 27 at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Swimming events begin at 6 p.m. Wednesday and continue with preliminaries at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 through Saturday, March 2.
The ACC features five men's teams ranked in the top 25 nationally in No. 9 Virginia, No. 15 Florida State, No. 16 North Carolina, No. 21 Virginia Tech and No. 22 NC State. The Cavaliers have won five consecutive conference crowns heading into the four-day meet.
The Blue Devil men finished the regular season with an overall ledger of 1-6 and a mark of 0-5 against ACC opponents, placing them eighth in the final conference standings. Duke enters this week's championship meet in second place after totaling 91 points in the diving events, which were contested during last week's Women's ACC Swimming & Diving Championships. Junior Nick McCrory swept the titles on the 1-meter, 3-meter and platform disciplines, earning Most Valuable Male Diver honors for the third time in his career, while senior Jordan Long placed eighth in the final of the 3-meter competition. Sophomore Clay Pinckney and freshman Deon Reid also scored points for the Blue Devils with their performances in the preliminaries of all three events.
With seven ACC diving titles for his career, McCrory is now the most decorated diver - male or female - in the history of the conference.
At the 2012 ACC Championships, Duke came in seventh, setting seven new program records and earning four podium finishes along the way. 2012 graduate Piotr Safronczyk captured the ACC title in the 100-yard breaststroke while also picking up All-ACC honors in the 200 breaststroke, and the Blue Devils' 200 and 400 medley relays garnered podium finishes in second and third place, respectively.
This year's championships begin Wednesday night in Greensboro with the 200 medley and 800 relay freestyle events, while Thursday's events include the 500 freestyle, 200 IM and the 50 freestyle. Senior Ben Hwang ranks fifth in the conference in the 50 freestyle heading into the meet with a season-best, NCAA provisionally qualifying mark of 20.03, which topped the nation earlier this season.
Junior Hunter Knight and senior Jim Zuponeck will look to lead a group of Blue Devil contenders Friday in the 100 breaststroke. Zuponeck took fourth and Knight eighth in the 100 breaststroke final a year ago, and Knight currently ranks fourth in the ACC with a season-best time of 54.86, good for an NCAA 'B' cut. Friday's action will also see junior Steven Gasparini compete in the 100 backstroke after finishing 11th in the conference last year. Other events slated for day three include the 400 IM, 100 butterfly and the 200 freestyle, as well as the 400 medley relay.
The ACC Championships conclude Saturday with the 1,650 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and the 400 freestyle relay. Hunter Knight and Zuponeck will be looking to score in the 200 breaststroke after earning top-16 finishes at the 2012 edition of the championship meet, while Hwang and classmate Adam Flur will be among those vying for a podium finish in the 100 freestyle.
For a complete schedule of events, visit the 2013 ACC Swimming & Diving Championships Central page at http://www.theacc.com/championships/acc-swimming-diving-championships.html.
Live results will be available throughout the week and live streaming of finals sessions Thursday through Saturday will be broadcast on the ACC Digital Network and ESPN3. Fans can also follow the Blue Devils (@Duke_SWIM_DIVE) and the ACC (@ACCSwimDive) on Twitter for live updates throughout the meet.