Senior Nick McCrory will look to end his collegiate career on a high note this weekend, entering the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships with big goals.
Joined by classmate Hunter Knight, McCrory will pursue his fourth, fifth and sixth national titles during the three days of competition, which begin Thursday in Austin, Texas.
Holding NCAA titles on the platform from 2010, 2011 and 2013, McCrory hopes to add a fourth win in the event to his resume. With a greater focus on the springboard events this year, he will also contend for national titles on both the 1- and 3-meter boards.
“He would love nothing more than to win one or both springboards, and he is capable of doing it,” head coach Dan Colella said. “We’re excited for him.”
USA Diving recently named McCrory to the 2014 Olympic Performance Squad, which recognizes 25 divers who could play a key role on the 2016 Olympic team. The list also includes former Blue Devil and 2012 Olympic silver medalist Abby Johnston.
This season McCrory swept all three diving events at the ACC Championships for the second consecutive year. With his 10th conference win, he claimed the title of most decorated diver in conference history. Two weeks ago, McCrory took first place on both the 3-meter board and the platform at the Zone B Diving Championships in Greensboro, N.C. He took second on the 1-meter board behind Samuel Dorman of Miami, falling 25 points short of the winning total with a score of 782.95 points. McCrory will compete again against Dorman this weekend.
McCrory will not be the only Blue Devil in the pool this weekend. Following his fourth-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke and fifth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke at the ACC Championships, Knight secured his first invitation to the NCAA Championships in his final opportunity.
“His big goal was to qualify, but he doesn’t want to settle for just qualifying,” Colella said. “Once you get to the meet, if you can repeat what you did to get there, maybe go a little bit faster, there is a good chance that you could final.”
Knight enters Friday’s 100-yard breaststroke seeded 27th with a time of 53.15 seconds. Kevin Cordes of Arizona leads the field in the event with an entry time of 50.70 seconds. Cordes is the current American record holder in both breaststroke events.
Knight will also compete on the final day of the championships in the 200-yard breaststroke, in which he is seeded 26th with his school-record time of 1:55.47. Cordes again holds the top time entering the meet at 1:49.38—the only athlete to break the 1:50 mark.
After achieving his goal of qualifying for the national championships, Knight has set another goal of earning All-America honors, which he can accomplish by turning in one of the top 16 times during the morning session's preliminary swim and earning a spot in the finals at night. He has used the nearly one-month layover between meets to taper and fine-tune his stroke technique.
“The time definitely gave us an opportunity to prepare and to sharpen by reviewing video,” Colella said. “We saw a few things we wanted to work on for the last couple of weeks.”
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With a swim in the finals, Knight could add to the team score, but McCrory will earn the majority of Duke’s points. Each event win earns 20 points, so with top finishes in all three diving events, McCrory will likely surpass his 54-point total from last year’s NCAA Championships, which placed the Blue Devils 17th overall.
California and Florida look to be the top teams competing for the national title. The Bears, led by freshman Ryan Murphy, could finish first with strong performances in the relays. The Gators, however, enter the meet with the most seeded points.