In a steamy and packed Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion, the Blue Devils held their first home competition against Florida State, UNC Wilmington and Virginia Tech.
Although the Blue Devils fell to ACC opponents Virginia Tech and Florida State, they came out victorious against the Seahawks—on top of first-place finishes in six individual events and the women’s 200-yard medley relay.
“We had some great performances today,” head coach Dan Colella said. “Competing against Virginia Tech and Florida State—two of the top teams in the conference—and to be able to do some of the things we did, we were excited.”
The top two freestyle sprinters—Blue Devil senior Ben Hwang and Florida State’s Paul Murray—battled it out, with Hwang clocking a 20.13 for the win. The two are currently tied for the top time in the nation at 20.03. Hwang also secured a third-place finish in the 100 freestyle.
“I’m a little disappointed that I didn’t break 20 but that’s okay, I’m not too worried about it,” Hwang said. “FSU and VT are definitely teams that we’re gunning for at ACC’s, so we definitely want to hit our training a little harder.” (NOTE: I wasn’t positive about the “we’re gunning for” part when I was transcribing. Do you think it still works?)
Junior Christine Wixted remained undefeated in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and notched her third win in the 200 individual medley.
“For this early in the season, to be improving so much from the meet in Greensboro and dropping a bunch of time from there, I thought the meet went really well,” Wixted said. “The training’s always going to be there, but focusing on the little things we have to improve on is what’s going to drop the most time at the end of the season.”
The Blue Devils swept the men’s events in breaststroke too. Junior Hunter Knight took both the 100 and 200 breaststroke and senior Jim Zuponeck took second in the 100.
In the 100 backstroke, junior Steven Gasparini and sophomore Megan McCarroll took a pair of second-place finishes, for the men and women.
The freshmen again showed up after strong performances at the season-opening All-North Carolina Invitational earlier this month. Christine Ye took third in the 200 freestyle and fourth in the 100.
Diver Kendall McClenney secured fifth-place in the women’s 1-meter and 3-meter springboard. Classmate Deon Ried took eighth in the men’s 1-meter. Senior Jordan Long earned second-place in the 3-meter, with a score of 383.45. His score qualified for the NCAA Zone Diving Championships.
Although members of the team shared personal achievements, Colella noted the team needs to discipline to advance throughout the season.
“We also realized today that a lot of people experienced things they absolutely need to be working on,” he said. “They’re the little things, the little mental errors, that with just a little bit of discipline during the course of the season, [the team] will be able to rectify them. But we’re going to be good, we’re going to be strong at the end of the season.”
The Blue Devils will compete at home again next Saturday against N.C. State and Miami’s women’s team at 11 a.m. in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion. Although that meet marks the return of Duke’s olympic divers Nick McCrory and Abby Johnston, it may have a tough time matching the Parents’ Weekend excitement from Saturday.
“All the parents were here, I felt like there was a great atmosphere,” Wixted said. “The stands were packed, I’ve never seen the stands that full before so that was really fun.”
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