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Blue Devils compete for ACC Championship spots

In Duke’s last competition before the ACC Championships, the team hosted N.C. State and North Carolina at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.
In Duke’s last competition before the ACC Championships, the team hosted N.C. State and North Carolina at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion.

Most sports don’t cater especially well to the Tobacco Road rivalry, since only two teams can play at a time. But at this weekend’s College Cup Invitational at the Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion, all three Triangle-area rivals swam against one another in the final meet for the Blue Devils before the ACC Championships.

Duke held out most of its top swimmers for the meet, so the focus was on individual results, as team members competed for what might be the last few spots to represent the Blue Devils in Atlanta.

“The quality of swimming was great,” head coach Dan Colella said. “I’m proud of how the Duke swimmers competed this weekend.”

Colella was also excited for several of his seniors who set lifetime bests in their final meet.

Senior Allie Speidel took first in the 100 back on Saturday before returning on Sunday to take second in the 200. Sophomore Chris Cirillo also placed highly in one event each day. On Saturday he broke 50 seconds for the first time all season to finish second in the 100 butterfly and on Sunday he overcame a poor showing in preliminaries to place second in the 200. In that same 200 butterfly event, sophomore Jacob Bieze barely out-touched N.C. State’s Gabe Davis to take third behind his teammate Cirillo.

Other top three finishes came from senior Kirstie Jeffrey in the 50 free on Saturday, and Eneka Lamb in the 200 backstroke.

Meanwhile, the diving contingent competed at the USA Winter National Diving Championships in Iowa City. Nick McCrory and his partner, 2008 Olympian and current Purdue attendee David Boudia, finished first in the synchronized platform by nearly 100 points. Unfortunately for McCrory, his partner for the synchronized diving became his competitor in the individual event, and Boudia edged the defending NCAA champion McCrory by 32.9 points in the platform.

McCrory led the six-dive event after his first dive. Despite attempting a forward 4.5 somersault tuck with a 3.7 degree of difficulty, he earned perfect scores from two judges for a total of 101.75 for the dive. On three of his next four dives, though, McCrory failed to break 90 points, while the highly consistent Boudia earned two 97’s and a 99.

Up next for the swimmers and divers alike are the ACC Championships, which take place for the women Feb. 16-19 and for the men Feb. 23-26 in Atlanta.

“The last few years, we’ve been steadily moving up. We’re just looking to continue that ascent,” Colella said.

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