For the first time in program history, two divers are competing in the NCAA Division I Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships this weekend. After a long season in which every performance affects qualifying for the championship, senior Jordan Long and junior Nick McCrory will be the only Blue Devils at the meet.
Having two divers attend this high intensity weekend is a first for Duke, and a testament to the growth and development that has occurred under the tutelage of diving head coach Drew Johansen.
“Drew’s been one of the most successful coaches in the sport of diving, especially so quickly,” Long said. “He comes in here and builds a program up within four or five years. Even through my time, all the success he’s had in the program has grown tremendously. I think this is just another stepping stone to it becoming even greater and better. Having both of us go speaks to what the program is capable of.”
The pair said they believe that the lack of new competition will help eliminate any surprises. Since the diving community is small and close-knit, many of the divers know each other. McCrory noted that he is excited to see Stanford’s Kristian Ipsen, a fellow Olympic team member, and dive against him this weekend.
McCrory will look to notch his third national championship off of the platform and collect crowns in both the 1- and 3-meter springboard after taking a year away from college competition to train for the 2012 London Olympics, where he took home a bronze medal. The training only seemed to improve his performance, though, as he won the 1-meter and platform events at the Zone B Diving Championships earlier this month. He also added conference titles in all three events in the ACC tournament earlier this season, and became the most decorated diver in conference history.
“I do know what to expect. NCAA’s is honestly one of my favorite meets to go to because it’s so high-energy with all the swimmers there. I like to watch those events, and there’s always a really loud, big crowd so it just makes it exciting,” McCrory said. “My mindset going into it is just to go and dive and have fun. My focus is still on springboard but I’m going to be looking to do my best on platform also.”
Long is a different story, as he is a first-time competitor at the NCAA Championships. He will compete in both the 1- and 3-meter springboard events. Long finished the Zone B Diving Championships with a top performance on the 3-meter, collecting 724.40 points in two rounds.
“It couldn’t have been more perfect. It feels like it was meant to be almost, especially because I knew freshmen year that it was a long shot to make NCAA’s,” Long said. “But each year, it’s just been that much closer to being a reality. And then going to that Zone meet and everything falling into place and everything paying off and making the one meet that I’ve always dreamed of making, I couldn’t honestly ask for a better way to end my whole career.”