DURHAM, N.C. – The Blue Devil swimmers and divers will look to build on last year’s postseason success when they kick off the 2017-18 campaign Friday, Oct. 13 in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion. Duke hosts conference opponents Florida State and Virginia Tech in a double dual meet Friday at 5 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m.
As the Blue Devils prepare for their first weekend of competition, take a look at a few storylines to follow heading into the season.
Recapping the 2016-17 Campaign
Following a season in which both the men’s and women’s teams scored at the NCAA Championships, Duke returns eight nationals qualifiers, including one honorable mention All-American in senior diver MaryEllen Targonski. Also among the Blue Devils’ returning NCAA qualifiers is senior Leah Goldman, who was an All-ACC performer last spring in the 100-yard butterfly. Her showing at the 2017 conference championship guided the women’s team to a sixth-place finish, while the men took eighth at the ACC meet behind a podium finish from 2017 graduate Peter Kropp. Kropp went on to claim first team All-American accolades at the NCAA Championships with a top-eighth finish in the 100 breaststroke.
Returning Relay Success
Two women’s relays turned in top-20 showings at NCAAs – Maddie Hess, Alyssa Marsh, Maddie Rusch and Goldman in the 200 freestyle relay and Hess, Ashleigh Shanley, Marsh and Rusch in the 200 medley relay. Goldman was also top-20 individually in the 100 butterfly. The Duke men return several swimmers from record-setting relays, including Sean Tate and Miles Williams from the 800 freestyle relay and Max St. George and Tate from the 400 medley relay.
Blue Devils Welcome Nine Newcomers
Duke welcomed nine freshmen to the program this fall in Connie Dean, Halle Morris, Carly Perri and Ellie Winslow on the women’s side and Nathaniel Hartley, Spencer LaFata, Zach Washart, Teddy Zeng and Adam Zimmer on the men’s side. The class hails from six different states and two other countries in China and England. Read more about the newest Blue Devils here.
Squads Make Splash at Blue-White Meet
The Blue Devil swimmers and divers kicked off the season with an intrasquad meet Saturday in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion. Junior Yusuke Legard swept the men’s 50 and 100 freestyle events for the Blue Team and classmate Judd Howard added wins in the men’s 200 breaststroke and 100 individual medley. Also excelling for the Blue Team was Hess, who took first in the women’s 200 freestyle and 200 backstroke, and Goldman, who notched victories in the women’s 100 breaststroke and 100 individual medley.
Senior Isabella Paez turned in first-place showings in the women’s 100 and 200 butterfly to lead the White Team. Dean was one of several Blue Devil rookies with strong performances, as she claimed the women’s 1,000 freestyle and 200 breaststroke.
Summer Success Across the Globe
Current and former Blue Devils fanned out across the world to compete in a number of national and international events over the summer. Paez, recent Blue Devil graduate Jaimee Gundry and 2011 Duke graduate Ashley Twichell all competed at the 2017 FINA World Aquatic Championships in Budapest Hungary, with Twichell taking home a gold medal in the women’s open water five-kilometer event and silver in the 5K team relay. The former Duke standout and 2017 USA Swimming Female Open Water Swimmer of the Year continued a busy summer by winning gold in the 800-meter freestyle at the U.S. Open, in addition to recording two other top-three finishes in the pool.
In July, Goldman, Howard and sophomore Noah Stevens all swam for the United States at the 20th World Maccabiah Games in Israel. Goldman captured four medals individually and three as a member of U.S. relays, including two golds. Howard was a gold medalist in the 200-meter individual medley and added three other individual medals to go along with two relay golds.
Closer to home, Hernandez and Targonski represented the program at the 2017 USA Diving National Championships while sophomores Kylie Jordan and Alyssa Marsh and freshman LaFata and Morris competed at the U.S. Open. Twichell earned a top-three performance earlier in the summer at the USA Swimming Phillips 66 National Championships, where Marsh was fourth in the women’s 50-meter butterfly and junior Max St. George 14th in the men’s 50 backstroke.