GREENSBORO, N.C. – Duke swimmers and divers continued to rewrite the program record books Friday on the third day of competition at the 2014 ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, held at the Greensboro Aquatic Center. Senior Nick McCrory was crowned an ACC champion in diving for the second consecutive day and classmate Lauren Weaver garnered all-conference accolades in her second event to headline a number of strong performances.
Three more school records fell during the evening finals session, while the Blue Devils also tallied eight lifetime best times, six NCAA provisionally-qualifying marks and seven all-time top-10 swims on the day.
“We knew that today would provide us with a bunch of opportunities and they really stood up this morning in every event,” said head coach Dan Colella. “To come back and have someone in each of the events and to have multiple swimmers in the breaststroke and the butterfly, it was just a great day for Duke swimming.”
McCrory captured his second gold medal in as many days at the ACC Championship, becoming the 21st four-time champion in a men’s event in the history of the ACC and the first four-time champion in men’s 1-meter diving. He led the field during the preliminary round with a score of 443.15 and opened strong in the final before slipping to fifth midway through his list. However, McCrory rebounded to score at least 72 points on each of his next three dives, including a score of 83.70 on an inward 2 ½ somersault for a 3.1 degree of difficulty in the final round, to secure the title with a total of 425.70 points. With his sweep of the springboard events, the Chapel Hill, N.C., native now owns nine ACC diving titles for his career heading into Saturday’s platform competition.
“It was a little bit scary when Nick missed that dive but I’m really happy it turned out the way it did,” said head diving coach Nunzio Esposto. “I’ve known him for so long that I knew he could come back from that. Overall his performances have been really, really good. He’s doing great and he still has the platform to go.”
Sophomore Deon Reid also scored for the Blue Devils in 23rd place (303.50) while classmate Jaimee Gundry collected points for the Duke women in the 3-meter preliminaries with a 20th-place finish (278.10).
In the first swimming event of the evening, freshman Jessie Sutherland, senior Christine Wixted, freshman Maddie Rusch and Weaver surpassed the program record in the 400-yard medley relay by nearly three seconds at 3:37.92. Sutherland clocked a personal-best and NCAA provisionally-qualifying 100 backstroke time of 54.61 as the leadoff leg to help the Blue Devils take seventh overall.
The Duke women have now set school records in all four relay events held so far at this week’s championship with the 400 freestyle relay still to come Saturday evening.
A program record also fell in the 400 IM, as freshman Liza Bragg dropped time from a season-best showing in the preliminaries to touch at 4:18.25 in the event final. Bragg also earned an NCAA ‘B’ cut with her evening swim and placed 13th overall. Sophomore Kiera Molloy came in 20th in the event, registering a time of 4:22.04.
After finishing 16th in the 100 butterfly in 2012 and not competing in the final last year, Weaver closed with an impressive final 25 yards Friday to take third and claim her first all-conference accolades in the event. She broke Shannon Beall’s five-year-old school record in the process, going 53.18 to also grab an NCAA ‘B’ cut. The Blue Devils also placed three other swimmers in the 100 butterfly finals, as Rusch finished 13th (53.97), freshman Colleen Wixted 23rd (54.55) and Sutherland 24th (54.71).
“Lauren’s 100 fly has been a work in progress over the last three-and-a-half years,” Colella said. “The big thing was her really believing that she could get out fast and come home. She is an unbelievable closer and we saw that tonight.”
Freshman Brittany Friese scored with a 20th-place finish in the 200 freestyle (1:49.09) before a pair of Duke upperclassmen turned in top-12 performances in the 100 breaststroke. An All-ACC performer in the event the past two seasons, Christine Wixted just missed the podium in fourth at 1:00.04. Graduate student Emily Barber went a personal-best 1:01.39 in a 12th-place finish to join Wixted in picking up NCAA ‘B’ cuts.
“It’s been a long five years for Emily Barber,” Colella said. “To have the two surgeries that she’s had and to be able to come back and perform tonight with a lifetime best was huge. Her best event is the 200 so we’re looking forward to that tomorrow.”
The final event of the evening saw Sutherland return to the pool for a third time on the night, as she came in 23rd in the 100 backstroke at 55.15 after tapping the wall in a personal-best 54.69 during the morning session.
Following Friday’s action, the Blue Devil women remain seventh out of 12 teams with a total of 363 points. Virginia (946.5) expanded its lead while North Carolina (767) moved into second and Florida State continued to hold onto third (706.5).
The ACC Women’s Swimming and Diving Championship reaches its conclusion Saturday, Feb. 22 in Greensboro with the preliminaries and finals of the 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly and 400 freestyle relay, as well as the men’s and women’s platform diving competitions. Live results will be available for preliminaries at 11 a.m. and finals at 7 p.m., while live video will be streamed for Saturday night’s action.
ACC Women's Championship - Team Standings Through Day Three
|2. North Carolina||767|
|3. Florida State||706.5|
|4. NC State||659|
|5. Virginia Tech||619|
|6. Notre Dame||543.5|
|10. Georgia Tech||221.5|
|11. Boston College||130|