“It’s all about the process,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said.
And that process is off to a strong start, after the Blue Devils’ season opener at the All-North Carolina Invitational hosted by N.C. State. The men placed second, 359 points behind N.C. State with 1,197 points while the women took third with 956 points, behind N.C. State and East Carolina with 1,563 and 1,383 points, respectively. The event was held at Greensboro Aquatic Center, which is where the 2013 ACC Championships will be held.
“This was the first time that all the schools in North Carolina have had this invitational,” Colella said. “I wasn’t really sure what to expect and it turned out to be a lot of fun, and it was a great competition. It gave a chance to all the different schools to swim against other North Carolina schools that they don’t often [compete against].”
Due to illness, only 13 women competed this weekend. Among the competitors was junior Christine Wixted, who won the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststroke and the 100-yard freestyle—an event that she usually does not swim.
Sophomore Megan McCarroll finished second in the 100 backstroke and fourth in the 200 backstroke in 2:05.47.
For the men, the 100 breaststroke was a key event—junior Hunter Knight finished first in 56.92 while seniors Ben Hwang and Jim Zuponeck finished second and third, respectively in 57.04 and 57.09.
In the 1,650 freestyle, senior Alex Harmon took fourth in 16:32.28 and freshman Meghan Price took sixth in the women’s race with 17:52.37.
“This was a couple weeks earlier than when we normally start the season, so we were really pleased with a lot of performances—particularly with our freshmen,” Colella said.
Chelsea Ye took second in the women’s 100 freestyle with 52.37 and sixth in the 200 freestyle. She also anchored Duke’s second-place 400 freestyle relay. Kathryn Eckhart placed ninth out of 58 swimmers in the 100 freestyle with a time of 53.73. Linsay Cooper took third in the 100 butterfly, tying with classmate Sam Skinner.
“In [the freshmen’s] first meet, you’re never sure how they’re going to perform but they stood up and did a great job,” Colella said.
Duke’s relays saw some victories as well—the men’s 200 freestyle relay and 200 medley relay and the women’s 200 freestyle relay all recorded first-place finishes.
“We haven’t even really gotten into a lot of our stroke training, so for them to perform the way they did was a great sign for what’s to come,” Collela said. “There were a lot of small details and mistakes—little mental things that you expect at the beginning of the season.”
The Blue Devils will continue to hone their skills in preparation for their home opener in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion Oct. 27 against Virginia Tech, Florida State and UNC Wilmington.