The program record holder and an All-ACC honoree in the event with a second-place finish at the 2012 Atlantic Coast Conference Championships, Safronczyk took 22nd in the nation during Saturday morning's preliminaries. The Bialystok, Poland native turned in a time of 1:57.22 for his second-best time of the season in his final collegiate race. The performance wrapped up a successful meet for Safronczyk, as he captured honorable mention All-America honors Friday evening with a 15th-place finish in the consolation final of the 100 breaststroke (53.71).
"The times I had were very close to my personal-best times," Safronczyk said. "This is a goal I've been dreaming about for three years and I achieved that dream."
Senior Ben Tuben also ended his career at Duke on a high note, competing in two events at the NCAA Championships. Thursday's action in Federal Way saw Tuben post a personal-best time of 20.11 in the preliminaries of the 50 freestyle while taking 48th overall. On Friday, he set a new school record in the prelims of the 100 butterfly (46.35) and qualified for the event championship final. A product of Fairfax, Va., Tuben returned to the pool later that evening to finish eighth in the nation at 46.84, earning first team All-America honors.
"I went into the meet with no expectations, just proud to be there," Tuben said. "I swam my race just focusing on my race strategy. At the 50, I turned and I saw that I was with these guys that are top in nation, top in the world and I was like, 'I can hang with these guys.' And then I just hammered it home, picked up eighth overall. It was probably one of the best moments of my whole life."
With their top-16 performances on Friday, Tuben and Safronczyk became the first Blue Devil swimmers to score at an NCAA Championships meet in over 30 years. They were also the first Duke swimmers to achieve All-America distinction since Eric Steinhouse did so in 1980. Tuben and Safronczyk combined for 13 points overall during the course of the meet to secure a 29th-place finish for Duke in the final team standings.
California won its second consecutive NCAA Championship, closing out the three-day meet with 535.5 total points. Texas took second with 491 points, followed by Stanford in third with 426.5 points.
"This year was probably one of the most difficult years in NCAA history to make the meet," said head coach Dan Colella. "In itself, that was a spectacular accomplishment. And for the two to come here and represent Duke the way they did, with both being All-Americans and getting points up on the board ... they set the benchmark for the team."
Despite only being at Duke for one season, Safronczyk leaves as one of the top breaststroke swimmers in program history. He garnered a pair of All-ACC accolades at last month's ACC Championships, placing second in the 200 breaststroke and winning the ACC title in the 100 breaststroke. Safronczyk is the school record holder in both events, with a mark of 52.99 in the 100 breaststroke and a time of 1:57.03 at the 200-yard distance. In his previous two seasons at the University of Bridgeport, Safronczyk made two appearances at the NCAA Div. II Men's Swimming & Diving Championships, claiming national titles in the 100 breaststroke and as a member of the 200 medley and 200 free relay teams.
"The last couple of weeks were a very good ending," Safronczyk said. "I'm finishing my college career, and it's been a great, great ride."
The NCAA Championships appearance capped an impressive four-year career for Tuben, the program record holder in the 100 butterfly (46.35) and the 200 butterfly (1:47.39). He represented Duke at the ACC Championships in each of his four seasons, and made program history as a member of last year's 200 free relay team - the first Duke relay squad to capture an ACC crown.
"It was one of the best ways anyone could close out a career, so I feel pretty fulfilled," Tuben said of his All-America performance. "It's a feeling that's probably not going to go away for a long time."
Both Safronczyk and Tuben have also been key members of the Blue Devils' relay teams this season, teaming with sophomore Steven Gasparini and junior Ben Hwang to set school records in the 200 medley relay (1:25.98) and the 400 medley relay (3:12.02). Their mark in the 200 medley relay was also good for a new ACC record. In addition, the four swimmers garnered a pair of podium finishes at the 2012 ACC Championships, taking second in the 200 medley relay and third in the 400 medley relay.
"We're incredibly proud of our two seniors," Colella said. "They've been tremendous leaders all year long. They represented the University at the highest level and couldn't have done a better job."
2012 NCAA Div. I Men's Swimming & Diving Championships - Final Team Standings
|1. Cal Berkeley||535.5|
|7. Southern Cal||192|
|12. Ohio State||106|
|13. Texas A&M||97|
|14. North Carolina||74.5|
|16. Florida State||61|
|17. Penn State||56|
|18. Virginia Tech||55|
|20. Arizona State||36|
|28. Notre Dame||15|
|31. Eastern Michigan||12|
|31. Michigan State||12|
|31. Louisiana Tech||12|
|36. Old Dominion||6|