The outcome of the Duke women's first swimming and diving meet of the year was decided in the blink of an eye.
Trailing N.C. State by five points going into the final race of Saturday's tri-team meet between Duke, N.C. State and William & Mary, the Blue Devil squad needed a first place finish in the women's 400-meter freestyle relay to win.
Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion became deafening as the race quickly narrowed to a showdown between Duke (1-1, 0-1 in the ACC) and ACC adversary N.C. State. Neck and neck the whole race, the Wolfpack edged the Duke squad by 0.26 seconds to clinch the race and the meet, 125.5-117.5.
The men's and women's Blue Devil squads each conquered William & Mary (1-2), 143-94 and 161-82, respectively. Butlike the women, the men fell to the Wolfpack (2-0, 1-0), 161-77.
"As for the women, we knew it was going to be a war with N.C. State and pretty much knew it was going to go down to the last relay," said Duke head coach Dan Colella, who was coaching his first meet at the helm of the Blue Devils. "The women did a great job of making sure it went down to the last relay."
The Duke foursome of freshman Katie Bieze and seniors Nora Stupp, Alison Sandberg and Julia Lewis swam well in the dramatic women's 400M freestyle relay, Colella said. Senior Katie Ness racked up wins in both the 200 IM and backstroke, while Lewis also secured a win in the 50M freestyle. Jackie Storm gave the Blue Devils a vital win in the 200M breaststroke.
"The 1-3-4 finish in the 200 breaststroke at the end really solidified it going to the last event," Colella said. "Unfortunately, we got touched out at the end."
Duke's Andy Storm, one of the two returning seniors on the men's squad, gave a strong perfomance with a win in the 200M breaststroke.
"We, the men, knew that William & Mary was coming in definitely looking to knock us off, and I think our guys really stepped up and did a great job against them," Colella said. "N.C. State, right now, is a great program and my hat is off to Coach Teal and the job he's doing with the men."
Despite the men's team's loss to the Wolfpack, Colella was optimistic about the Blue Devils' performance.
"We were really excited and pleased with a number of our swims from the men," Colella said. "In terms of their performances, we saw a lot of smart swimming today. These are definitely things we can build on. I mean, it's the first meet of the season."
Freshman diver Nick Campisano made a big splash in his first meet as a Blue Devil, posting a score of 303.37 on the one-meter board to qualify for the NCAA Zone Championship. Campisano can now compete at the Zone Championships, March 10-12, for a chance to earn a bid to the NCAA championship.
Get Overtime, all Duke athletics
Signup for our editorially curated, weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.
"I thought our divers did an unbelieveable job today," diving coach Andy Scott said. "They really stepped up and gave us a chance. They put us in a position to have a shot at winning at the end."
The Duke men and women's diving squads earned five top-three finishes between the 1M and 3M boards. Freshman Lauren Gonzalez, battling back from a recent neck injury, led the Duke women, placing second at both heights.
"Overall, there was a lot of excitement, and I was really proud of how they performed," Colella said of the entire team's performance. "I think it's a great start to the season."