The women's swimming team swept a pair of dual meets Saturday, while the men's team split its meets. So naturally, the Blue Devils were disappointed.
"We swam terribly, to be honest," coach Bob Thompson said. "We swam really poorly early."
Both teams were more concerned with beating Davidson, the meet's host, than with their other opponent. The women topped Davidson, 129-109, and whipped N.C. A&T, 149-53, while the men lost to Davidson, 136-98, and beat Georgia Tech, 138-93.
Although the women's team won both its meets, many of its swimmers did not perform as well as they had in the previous three meets. Their male counterparts, meanwhile, expected to beat Georgia Tech.
"We weren't worried about Georgia Tech; our focus was on Davidson," said senior Marshall Preston, the men's captain. "So if you came in second overall, but Davidson beat you, it was disappointing. That might have affected our psyche, that we were coming in second."
Despite the overall dropoff, not all was lost for the Blue Devils. Senior Kristin Gardner, co-captain of the women's team, swam a career-best time in the 200-meter breaststroke, winning the race in 2:25.07. Gardner's victory was the third of four straight Duke victories to end the women's meet, which the women started miserably (one win in the first four races) but finished strong (eight victories in the final nine events).
"Kristin Gardner swam out of her socks," Thompson said. "That took a lot of pressure off the [400-meter freestyle] relay."
The relay team of Jamie Fleming, Jill Spitzfaden, Susan Keeler and Leslie King won in 3:40.26, wrapping up the team victory for the women. The men's 400-freestyle relay team of Matt Lynch, Brendan McGill, Jack Newhouse and Preston also won (in 3:16.55), but that gave little solace to a men's team that recorded only two other wins.
"Had we swum the way we're capable of swimming, we should have beaten Davidson," Thompson said. "Any time that happens, you've got to be disappointed."
Other than the relay team's wins, both of the men's other triumphs came from junior Chris Wise. Coming off three of his best meets ever, Wise again came through, winning the 1,000-meter freestyle in 9:49.60 and the 500-meter freestyle in 4:45.57.
"He's one of the most talented swimmers we have," Preston said. "He has the capability and the talent to swim that way every meet."
Exhaustion may have caused problems for the Blue Devils, who, despite having received extra rest recently, are known as workaholics in the pool.
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"At Duke, we have a tendency to overtrain," said Thompson, who will take his teams to the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament in the next month. "When you're preparing for these dual meets, you tend to prepare to race, so they're going to be fine come ACCs."
Duke travels next week to Virginia, the site of both the men's and women's ACC tournaments, for dual meets with the host Cavaliers and the Maryland Terrapins.