The Blue Devils head north to Charlottesville, Va. this weekend to take on defending ACC Champions Virginia, but they will be missing one of their two Olympians: Senior diver Abby Johnson will not compete, nursing a shoulder injury.
In a recent poll, Duke ranked last in the ACC in men’s swimming and diving with a 0-3 record in the conference and 1-3 record overall. The women’s team ranks fifth in the ACC with a record of 1-3 in the conference and is 2-3 overall. Duke is coming off a loss to South Carolina this past weekend where the Blue Devils fell to the Gamecocks with a loss in the last relay of the meet.
In last Saturday’s matchup, Johnston came out on top in the women’s 1-meter springboard diving competition. Her score of 309.83 was also good for a NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualification. For her impressive performance last week, Johnston earned ACC Diver of the Week honors.
ACC Diver of the Week was simply icing on the cake for Johnston who won a silver medal in women’s synchronized diving at the London Olympics. She was keen to praise her fellow teammates as well.
“It's an honor to be recognized for my performance,” Johnston said. “But I also think that every diver on the Duke team had great performances last weekend, especially Jordan Long winning the 3 meter competition. It was such a special weekend having my whole family in attendance and celebrating all the seniors and their commitment to the team over the past 4 (or 5 in my case) years.”
Blue Devil Jordan Long edged fellow teammate and London Olympic bronze medalist Nick McCrory to win the men’s 3-meter competition. The Duke senior scored a NCAA Zone Diving qualification score of 377.10. McCrory did however, go on to win the 1-meter height.
Johnston will be out with the same shoulder injury that has required rest for more than a year.
“I'm sad that I won't get the opportunity to face top divers in the ACC because I think this meet is a great preview of the ACC Championships and NCAA Championships,” Johnston said. “More importantly, I wish that I could contribute to the team scores this week and be there to encourage my teammates. UVA has a tradition of very strong diving and swimming and it is always a challenging meet in our schedule. Given that UVA is competing against UNC the day before us, I think there is an opportunity for Duke's team to have outstanding swims and keep the competition close.”
The Blue Devils will likely count on a strong performance from Hunter Knight against Virginia. The junior received Ronald McDonald House Charities Duke Student-Athlete of the Week honors after winning all breaststroke events and clocking in a Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion facility record against South Carolina in the 100-yard breaststroke. Junior Steven Gasparini along with Knight, freshman Sam Skinner and senior Ben Hwang will be looked upon to produce in the 200 medley relay which the quartet won last weekend.
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