After winning just one match in the conference this season, the Duke women will look to surprise at the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships this week in Greensboro, N.C.
The Duke women’s swimming and diving teams will compete at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, as will the men’s diving team.
The women went 1-5 in the ACC this season, but head coach Dan Colella is confident his team will have a chance in a championship setting as opposed to a dual meet.
“We’re challenged when it comes to being a program that is partially funded,” Colella said. “Competing against everybody who is fully funded [is tough]. We are challenged in terms of depth. It really stands out in the dual meets. In ACC championship competition however, we have the opportunity to compete not just against one other school. We have done this in the past where teams that might beat us in a dual meet, we end up beating them in the ACC Championships… We are definitely looking to try to beat some of those teams that beat us in the dual meets.”
Duke’s record hasn’t discouraged junior Christine Wixted.
“For swimming, the record does not have a ton of meeting,” Wixted said. “It’s nice we got to compete against [all the ACC teams during the season, but] this is the final show. Anything can happen, it’s just the given day. You’ve got to forget our record and the numbers and take it day by day.”
Duke closed out the regular season last weekend at the Cavalier Invite in Charlottesville, Va. with a number of impressive individual performances. Blue Devil Alexa Mendes clocked in a 18:21.42 to earn herself a fourth place finish in the mile. The freshman also recorded a sixth-place finish in the 100-backstroke finals with a 1:01.13. Mendes will be joined by fellow classmate divers Kendall McClenney and Jaimee Gundry in Greensboro.
“The freshman class is absolutely terrific,” Blue Devil head coach Dan Colella said. “We have some great talent within that group. In a lot of sports, sometimes it takes a year or two for them to mature, but I think our freshmen are poised to be a real impact and help us in the team races. They are going to be a big part of [the ACC Championships].”
Although the championships are usually held at an ACC school’s pool, this year is different than in the past because the event is at a neutral site.
“It’s great to have [the meet] in Greensboro. It’s a brand new facility,” Colella said. “We absolutely have a lot of great facilities in the conference. Greensboro’s sports group has had a rich history of hosting ACC events…. and when they built this facility, it was obvious that they would be bidding for [the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships]. I think the ACC is excited about being there.”
Colella hopes that the proximity of the meet to Duke’s campus will attract Blue Devil fans to the venue in support of their hometown team.
“I feel like it’s more of an equalizer now,” Wixted said. “[The meet] will be held here the next two years that I am here. A lot of parents will always be there and more Duke bodies to [compete with] Virginia and North Carolina’s fanbase.”
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Colella wants to see top-notch swims and dives out of his Blue Devils with bigger events on the horizon later in the season and records on the line.
“We definitely have an opportunity to break a lot of team records and to have some ACC champions [in Greensboro],” Colella said. “One of our goals is to get some people qualified for the NCAA championships.”