GREENSBORO, N.C. – The Blue Devil men placed seven swimmers in finals events, broke two more school records and turned in 10 all-time top-10 performances Saturday to conclude competition at the 2014 ACC Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship. Duke placed eighth out of 11 teams in the final standings, totaling 482 points over three and a half days of action at the Greensboro Aquatic Center.
“The ACC just really stepped up and is really performing incredibly well,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Our guys really swam a great meet. Our freshman group in particular, to come to their first ACC Championships, I think did an absolutely terrific job. We’re just looking forward to next year.”
After breaking two program records and notching four NCAA provisionally-qualifying marks during Saturday morning’s preliminaries, the Blue Devils returned to the pool in similar form for the final evening session of the meet. Freshman Sam Sherman touched in a season-best time of 16:16.33 to place 21st overall in the 1,650-yard freestyle and classmate Bradley Cline dropped over a second from his morning swim in the 200 backstroke to record a lifetime best and NCAA ‘B’ cut of 1:45.00 in the bonus final, placing him 18th overall. In addition, that clocking ranked Cline third all-time in program history.
Duke had another rookie back for finals in the 100 freestyle, as James Peek took 23rd in the conference at 44.75. His personal-best mark of 44.32 during the preliminaries was good for the fifth-fastest time in school history.
Two Blue Devils earned finals spots in the 200 breaststroke, with senior Hunter Knight going 1:55.47 during preliminaries for the morning’s top seed and a program record. In the championship final, the Richmond, Va., native tapped the wall at 1:55.66 to come in fourth in the conference. Freshman Peter Kropp grabbed a lifetime best and NCAA ‘B’ cut of 1:59.33 during the morning session and went on to clock 1:59.79 Saturday evening to finish fifth in the bonus final and 21st overall.
“It was a great race, great competition,” Knight said. “I’m happy with how my last ACCs went for sure.”
“We couldn’t be more proud of Hunter,” Colella said. “We’re going to miss him. He’s been an absolutely terrific leader this year both in the pool and outside the pool. It’s a result of his kind of leadership that’s helped the program grow this year.”
The finals of the 200 butterfly also featured two Duke swimmers in freshman Michael Miller and junior Clay Sanders. Miller, who claimed bronze in Friday night’s 400 IM, collected his third school record of the meet Saturday morning with a 1:45.18 showing to also surpass the NCAA provisional standard in the event. The rookie went 1:45.23 in the consolation final to place 12th, while Sanders was 23rd at 1:49.02 after registering a lifetime best of 1:48.07 during preliminaries.
In the final event of the meet, the 400 freestyle relay, freshmen Peek, Cline, Jack Carey and Miller combined for a season-best mark of 2:58.84 to place ninth and rank sixth on Duke’s all-time chart.
The Blue Devils picked up points from last week’s platform diving competition, which saw senior Nick McCrory close out his career at the ACC Championships by being named the ACC Most Valuable Male Diver for the fourth time. The only four-time winner of that title, McCrory shined in his best event, garnering an award of 425.70 to capture his third career ACC title on the platform. With the win, the Chapel Hill, N.C., native secured a sweep of all three disciplines at the championship for the second consecutive year and concluded his final conference meet the most decorated diver in the history of the ACC with 10 diving crowns.
Virginia Tech claimed the 2014 ACC title with a team score of 1264.5 while NC State was second (1226) and North Carolina (995) third. Virginia was fourth (972) followed by Florida State (957.5), Notre Dame (907.5), Georgia Tech (543), Duke (482), Pittsburgh (412.5), Boston College (205) and Miami (156).
Over the course of the ACC Championship, the Blue Devil men eclipsed four school records with Miller setting new benchmarks in the 200 IM (1:45.66), 400 IM (3:46.03) and the 200 butterfly (1:45.18) and Knight breaking his own record in the 200 breaststroke (1:55.47).
McCrory was crowned an ACC champion on the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards as well as on the platform, and was joined in earning All-ACC accolades by Miller, who captured the bronze in the 400 IM. With his performance, Miller became the first Duke male swimmer to garner All-ACC honors as a freshman.