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Duke swimmers earn 5 medals at ACC Championships

Senior Nick McCrory became the first athlete to win ACC’s Most Valuable Diver four times in his career.
Senior Nick McCrory became the first athlete to win ACC’s Most Valuable Diver four times in his career.

Kicking off the ACC Championships Wednesday night in Greensboro, N.C., with an NCAA A-standard in the women’s 200-yard medley relay, Duke earned five trips to the podium and a seventh-place overall finish by the conclusion of competition Saturday night.

McCrory was crowned ACC Most Valuable Diver Saturday after his third win of the championships on the platform, becoming the first athlete to earn the title four times.

“For Nick to come in and destroy his records again and once again win… it just speaks volumes,” head coach Dan Colella said. “He’s one of those really special athletes that everybody’s watching. He put on a show tonight.”

The senior led the field in both the 1- and 3-meter springboards and the platform. With a final score of 531 points on the 3-meter springboard, McCrory broke both his own school record and the conference record. With close competition from Samuel Dorman of Miami on the 1-meter springboard, McCrory took first place by three points with a total score of 425.70. He wrapped up his final ACC Championships with 492.95 points on the platform and a sweep of the diving events.

In the pool, Duke qualified a relay for the NCAA Championships for the first time in program history with an A-standard performance in the 200-yard medley relay Wednesday night.

After freshman Jessica Sutherland led on backstroke, senior Christine Wixted turned in the third-fastest 50-yard breaststroke split of the field. Freshman Maddie Rusch was quick off the block with a reaction time of 0.04 seconds following Wixted’s touch. Senior Lauren Weaver anchored the relay with an impressive 21.76-second split for her 50-yard freestyle, nearly catching North Carolina’s Hannah Lincoln in her final strokes into the wall. The Blue Devils’ final time was 1:37.91.

“The first event of ACCs is always very, very stressful and to perform and just crush the school record the way they did was amazing,” Colella said.

Duke broke all four of its other relay records in the course of the weekend.

Wixted broke the 200-yard freestyle record with her time of 1:49.03 on the leadoff leg of the 800-yard freestyle relay. Her teammates Brittany Friese, Kiera Molloy and Liza Bragg remained under pace, smashing the Blue Devils’ previous record mark by more than two seconds with a final time of 7:19.70.

The 200-yard freestyle relay of Weaver, Rusch, Kathryn Eckhart and Chelsea Ye took half a second off Duke’s top time and earned an NCAA B-standard in 1:30.01.

Sutherland, Wixted, Rusch and Weaver teamed up for the longer 400-yard medley relay and again earned a Blue Devil record. The group’s time of 3:37.92 was just off an NCAA B-standard.

In the final event Saturday night, Rusch, Weaver, Eckhart and Ye placed their names on Duke’s record board in the 400-yard freestyle relay, touching the wall in 3:20.13.

Weaver defended her third-place finish in the 50-yard freestyle at last year’s ACC Championships by again taking the bronze in the event. Her time of 22.19 broke yet another record for the Blue Devils.

“It was a goal going in that Lauren wanted to be back on the podium,” Colella said. “In the 50 free, if one little thing is off, whether it’s the start, the turn or the finish, it can be the difference between gold, silver and bronze…. For her to repeat as the bronze medalist and to be faster and break the school record was a proud moment for Duke swimming.”

The senior’s success continued in the 100-yard butterfly. Weaver earned her spot on the podium again with a third-place finish and B-standard time of 53.18 seconds. The time broke the previous school record by seven-tenths of a second.

Weaver’s fellow senior Wixted finished just off the podium in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststrokes but earned B-standards in both events.

Not showing signs of nerves in their first conference meet, the freshmen earned a handful of school records of their own.

Rusch broke the 50-second barrier in her 100-yard freestyle Saturday with her time of 49.68 seconds. She and Weaver were the first Blue Devils in program history to break this mark.

Bragg posted the school’s top time in both the 400-yard individual medley and the 200-yard backstroke. Her times of 4:18.25 and 1:57.56 were both good for NCAA B-standards.


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