AUSTIN, Texas – Following a historic first day of action for the Blue Devils at the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, Duke kept the excitement going with three more All-America swims and two record-breaking performances Friday at Texas’ Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center.
Through three full days of competition at the national meet, the Blue Devils sit tied for 21st in the team standings – up two spots from a day ago – with 35 points.
“After yesterday’s performances we expected them to be able to step up the way they did this morning,” said head coach Dan Colella. “It was huge to get both Alyssa Marsh and Kylie Jordan back in finals … Everybody’s definitely very excited and looking forward to the last day of the meet. We’re thrilled to be tied for 21st going into the last day. We’ll see where we end up, but we definitely have some great opportunities in front of us to make it back at night.”
Duke qualified two swimmers to the 100-yard butterfly finals, marking the first time in women’s program history multiple athletes have claimed All-America honors in the same event. Junior Alyssa Marsh took second in the event consolation final and 10th overall (51.72) after clocking the third-fastest time in school history during preliminaries (51.53). Classmate Kylie Jordan captured the first All-America accolades of her career, finishing fifth in the consolation final and 13th overall (51.86).
The honorable mention All-America honor was the second individual and third of the meet for Marsh, who was 11th in the 50 freestyle and competed on Duke’s 12th-place 200 freestyle relay Thursday in Austin. She is the first Blue Devil to garner All-America status in multiple events at the same NCAA meet since former Duke diver Abby Johnston did so in 2011.
For the second straight day, the Blue Devils also placed a relay in finals, as senior Maddie Hess, sophomore Halle Morris, Marsh and senior Hunter Aitchison advanced in record-breaking form in the 200 medley relay. The group broke the school record in preliminaries with a mark of 1:36.60 – good for the field’s 10th-fastest time of the morning – before returning to the pool Friday night to place 13th (1:36.96).
Hess also took down a school record individually Friday, tapping the wall at 52.05 in the 100 backstroke preliminaries for a career-best finish in 18th. Freshman Melissa Pish competed in her first event of the meet, racing to a top-30 showing in the 200 freestyle (1:45.96). Freshman Cabell Ann Whitlow turned in a best time of 53.56 in the 100 butterfly preliminaries, ranking her eighth on Duke’s all-time top 10.
“Maddie Hess broke the school record in the 100 backstroke and did everything that she could,” Colella said. “We always talk about stick to the process and she had a great, great performance and ended up second alternate, which was frustrating. But at the same time, she moved up 10 or 15 spots from where she had qualified. And then for them to turn around and 20 minutes later, qualify the 200 medley relay was huge. That’s two relays and two NCAA finals now.”
In the three-meter springboard competition, senior Lizzie Fitzpatrick earned a 31st-place finish with an award of 280.00. She topped the 50-point mark twice over the course of her list, including in the fourth round, when she received 57.40 points on a reverse 2 ½ somersault. Freshman Maddi Pullinger also competed in the event but was forced to withdraw during competition due to injury.
The NCAA Championships wrap up Saturday with the 1,650 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 100 freestyle, 200 breaststroke, 200 butterfly, platform diving and the 400 freestyle relay. Preliminaries get underway at 10 a.m. ET and finals at 6 p.m. ET on ESPNU.
Top Duke Finishers by Event:
100-Yard Butterfly: Alyssa Marsh (10th), 51.72
200-Yard Freestyle: Melissa Pish (30th), 1:45.96
100-Yard Backstroke: Maddie Hess (18th), 52.05
Three-Meter Diving: Lizzie Fitzpatrick (31st), 280.00
200-Yard Medley Relay: Maddie Hess, Halle Morris, Alyssa Marsh, Hunter Aitchison (13th), 1:36.96