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Duke swimming sends off seniors with strong showing

Duke posted strong finishes in the relays Friday night and competed in 11 individual A-finals at the Cavalier invitational—the team's last meet before the ACC Championships.

The Blue Devils were unfazed by the challenges the snow presented because for those without conference-qualifying times, this meet would serve as their last chance to earn season-best times.

“I’m incredibly proud of how they were able to handle themselves,” head coach Dan Colella said. “Everybody was anxious to get out of here on Thursday, so when we made the decision that we couldn’t travel, everybody was pretty stressed about it. The fact that they were able to swim as well as they did last night, being on the bus for three hours and turning around and competing was just great.”

Duke opened the meet Friday night in convincing form, winning the women’s 200-yard freestyle relay and taking second in the same event on the men’s side.

Senior Kelly Hagerty led off in a personal-best 50-yard freestyle split of 23.25, giving the Blue Devils nearly a second lead against the second-place finishers from Penn. Graduate student Francesca Tocci continued to widen the gap and senior Tricia Leeson and junior Caroline Conklin finished off the final 100 yards for a final time of 1:36.17.

On the men’s side, the the Blue Devils’ all-freshman relay of Benedict Parfit, Jack Carey, Kevin Fraser and Adriaan Venter took second place behind Penn, touching the wall with a final time of 1:22.85. The time earned the group Duke’s second-fastest time in the 200-freestyle relay this season.

Many senior Blue Devils earned personal best times to end their collegiate careers on a high note.

Jonathan Derlath dropped three seconds from his preliminaries time in the finals of his 400-yard individual medley, touching the wall in 4:03.87 to take third overall. Hagerty earned a season-best time with her third place finish in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:51.87.

In the 100-yard backstroke Tocci and senior Eneka Lamb took fourth and fifth, touching the wall in 56.04 and 57.38, respectively.

“It’s a great way for them to finish up their careers and to go out of their sport at the top,” Colella said. “It’s extremely challenging to be in it for four years and to go through this routine day-in and day-out. To be able to improve each year is an exciting thing.”

For the remainder of the team, the ACC championships will begin Wednesday in Greensboro, N.C.


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