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Piotr Safronczyk
Courtesy: Tim Binning, theswimpictures.com
Piotr Safronczyk
Safronczyk Wins ACC Crown in 100 Breaststroke
Monday 02/24/2012  -  Duke Sports Information
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CHRISTIANSBURG, Va. - A pair of podium finishes vaulted Duke into sixth place on day three of the 2012 ACC Men's Swimming Championships at the Christiansburg Aquatic Center. Graduate student Piotr Safronczyk captured the gold medal in the 100 breast, and the Blue Devils' 400 medley relay team took bronze in a school record-breaking performance to give a total of Duke 190.5 points heading into the final day of competition.

Friday evening's session opened in dramatic fashion, as sophomore Steven Gasparini, Safronczyk, senior Ben Tuben and junior Ben Hwang combined for a 3:12.02 clocking in the 400 medley relay to earn their second podium finish of the week. The quartet also collected its second school record of the conference championships, besting the previous record by over two seconds, and became the first 400 medley relay team in school history to earn a spot on the podium. Gasparini, Safronczyk, Tuben and Hwang also turned in an All-ACC performance Wednesday evening in the 200 medley relay, posting a time of 1:26.46 for a new program record.  

Junior Alex Harmon led off the Blue Devils in the individual events, returning to the water for his second finals event of the week - the 400 IM. The program record holder in the event at 3:54.07, Harmon turned in a time of 3:56.30 to place 17th overall while also notching Duke's top mark of the season.

The prelims of the 100 fly saw three Blue Devils establish new personal records, with Tuben advancing to the championship final after posting the fourth-best time of the morning session at 47.34. Tuben came back Friday evening with a 47.38 showing to place fifth overall and grab an NCAA 'B' cut, while senior Hunter Roux placed 24th in the finals at 50.06.

Duke had three swimmers qualify for the finals of the 200 free, led by freshman Stefan Knight, who came in 16th overall with a time of 1:40.94. Fellow rookie Jack Forese took 19th at 1:40.38 and junior Matt Carder tapped the wall at 1:42.73 to finish 20th. Both Knight and Forese established new personal-bests during the morning prelims, with Knight clocking 1:38.69 and Forese touching at 1:39.83.

The squad was also well-represented in the finals of the 100 breast, with three Blue Devils earning a spot in the championship final. After breaking the school record in the event Friday morning with a 53.55 performance, Safronczyk cruised in at 53.61 in the 'A' final to claim the gold medal and the first individual All-ACC honors of his career. He also became the Blue Devils' first individual ACC champion in a swimming event in over 20 years, with the last being Eric Steinhouse in 1980 (100 & 200 breast). Junior Jim Zuponeck and sophomore Hunter Knight joined Safronczyk in the championship final following personal-best swims in the event prelims. Zuponeck topped the previous program record with a 54.83 showing in the prelims, just one heat before Safronczyk broke the record again at 53.55. Zuponeck posted a time of 54.75 Friday evening to come in fourth, while Knight took eighth at 55.38. In addition, Safronczyk, Zuponeck and Knight all surpassed the NCAA provisional standard in the event.

The evening ended on a high note as well, with four swimmers qualifying for the finals of the 100 back. Gasparini tied for 11th in an NCAA provisional qualifying and personal-best time of 48.70, followed by junior Ted Minturn in 18th place (49.43), junior Chris Cirillo in 22nd (50.50) and junior Ty Stahl in 23rd (50.72).

Last week's 1-meter diving results were added into the team scores on Friday. Junior Jordan Long notched Duke's highest finish with a 13th-place showing in the preliminary round, earning a score of 319.90, and senior Cody Kolodziejzyk was right behind him in 14th with a score of 319.50. 

Friday's events moved the Blue Devils up two spots to sixth in the team standings with one full day of action remaining. Virginia reclaimed the lead with a total of 406 points, followed by North Carolina (394) and Virginia Tech (387.5).

"We're really excited about Piotr Safronczyk winning the 100 breaststroke tonight. It was the first time we've won an individual event in the last 25 years. Another first for us was to get the 400 medley relay on the podium, winning the bronze and breaking the school record by over two seconds," said head coach Dan Colella. "This morning was a great team effort - to get as many people as we had competing tonight. We're excited to have moved up a couple spots in the team standings. Tomorrow is going to be a big day for everybody, and we've got some great opportunities to do some good things."

The 2012 ACC Championships conclude Saturday with the prelims and finals of the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast and the 200 fly. Saturday evening's events will begin at 7 p.m. with the 1,650 free, and wrap up with the 400 free relay.

A live blog and live results will be available for Saturday's events, as well as live video for the evening finals.


Team Standings Through Day Three:

1. Virginia 406
2. North Carolina 394
3. Virginia Tech 387.5
4. Florida State 353
5. NC State 254.5
6. Duke 190.5
7. Georgia Tech 183
8. Clemson 181.5
9. Maryland 148
10. Boston College 64
11. Miami 27


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