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Ness sets school record, Duke finishes 10th

The women's swimming and diving team, led by senior Katie Ness, continued its record-setting ways over the weekend at the ACC Championships, hosted by the University of Maryland. But the Blue Devils' best was not enough as Duke (5-6, 1-5 in the ACC) finished in 10th place out of 11 conference programs.

"One of our goals was to move up at the ACCs-so we fell short of that," head coach Dan Colella said. "But it was great to hear other coaches commenting on the energy of our team."

Ness, swimming the first leg of the 400-yard medley relay, broke a Duke record for the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 55.33 Friday. She had previously held the record with a time of 55.47 seconds, a mark she set her freshman year.

"I think that was probably one of the highlights of the meet for her and the group," Colella said.

It marked the third day in a row that a school record was topped after the 200-yard medley relay and the 200-yard freestyle relay beat the program's previous best times Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.

Ness shined for Duke during the four-day meet, contributing 108 of the Blue Devils' 160 points with her individual and relay efforts. Besides setting the school record, the senior also finished fourth in the 100-yard butterfly, fourth in the 200-yard individual medley and third in Saturday's 200-yard butterfly-Duke's only top-three finish of the meet.

"Katie swam great with the good finishes in the 100 and 200 butterflies, and then setting the school record," Colella said. "Those performances were a great way of finishing up the competition."

Ness clocked four NCAA provisional times-in the 100-yard butterfly, the 200-yard butterfly, the 100-yard backstroke and the 200-yard individual medley. A provisional time makes her eligible to be selected by the NCAA for the National Championship meet held at the University of Georgia in March.

Few other Duke swimmers made it past the preliminary heats during the weekend. Sophomore Danielle Spearman finished 11th in the 100-yard backstroke and 21st in the 200-yard backstroke, a race in which freshman Erin Frizzell placed 19th.

Junior Jackie Rodriguez finished 15th in the 1650-yard freestyle and 13th in the 200-yard breaststroke to round out the scoring.

"Obviously we want to have more individuals in final heats and national championships," Colella said.

In all, the Blue Devil's posted 19 career-best times over four days.

"We're always looking for a high percentage of people looking for season or lifetime bests," Colella said. "I think it was a solid weekend."

Even with the disappointing 10th-place finish, Colella remained positive with his team's overall effort.

"It's not all about scoring points," he said. "It was a great weekend growing as a team. We moved forward in terms of seeing what it's going to take to keep moving up in the standings."

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