In the Blue Devils’ opening meet of the season, they hope to ‘pop some swims.’
Duke will compete in the first annual All-North Carolina Invitational this Friday and Saturday. The event, hosted by N.C. State, gives the team an opportunity to scope out the Greensboro Aquatic Center, where the 2013 and 2014 ACC championships will be held.
“[The meet] gives us an opportunity to get our whole team into the facility,” head coach Dan Colella said. “So it’s a great experience—to get to see the facility, to swim in it and to get used to it. Those are the little things that really do help in preparation for the championship meet at the end of the season.”
All college institutions in the state—ranging from Division I, II, III and the NAIA—were invited to the meet, and 14 will compete. These schools include N.C. State, East Carolina, Gardner-Webb, Davidson and UNC Asheville, among others. Colella noted that N.C. State and East Carolina have some great athletes, but the Blue Devils need to watch out for other teams as well.
“Most of the Division I, but even some of the Division II programs, have some really outstanding individuals,” he said. “They may not have as much depth as the Division I programs.However, each team has some exceptional athletes that will spice up the meet and definitely present us with plenty of competition.”
Although the team is only five weeks into the 26-week season, Colella said it has been one of the best starts to a season that he has seen. He added that the freshmen this year have bonded well with the rest of the team, and may possibly provide some “pleasant surprises” this weekend.
“Every year you never really know how freshmen are going to fit into the program—in terms of how they’re going to get acclimated to school, to campus [or] to the team,” he said. “This group has just absolutely clicked, probably more so than any team I’ve worked with here at Duke for the last seven years.”
While Colella said many members of the team will likely perform well at the meet, he noted that junior Christine Wixted and senior Ben Hwang have done some “amazing things” in workouts this year.
“The things that we’ve seen in workouts in the short period we’ve been training are some real indicators that we’re going to have some pretty good performances this weekend,” he said. “We’re hoping to see [Hwang] pop some swims.”
Although the team will race hard this weekend, Colella said the meet is more of an indicator of the things the team needs to work on as they progress through the season.
“That’s always our philosophy, making sure that after every race—whether it’s great or not so great—that it’s always a learning experience,” he said. “With so many teams being involved, it should be fun to get all these different schools from different divisions together…. As always we would love for the school spirit, so come on out and watch us.”