Miller finished third in the 400-yard individual medley Friday night at the ACC Championships in Greensboro, N.C. The Blue Devils wrapped up the weekend with an eighth-place overall finish in the toughest conference field to date, breaking four program records in the process.
“The ACC just really stepped up and is really performing incredibly well,” head coach Dan Colella said. “Our guys really swam a great meet. Our freshman group in particular, to come to their first ACC Championships, I think did an absolutely terrific job. We’re just looking forward to next year.”
With the addition of two new teams to the conference and stronger, deeper rosters for title contenders, Duke’s eighth-place finish with a predominantly freshman team was a success for the program.
Duke’s final score of 482 points earned eighth place overall, more than 60 points ahead of conference-newcomer Pittsburgh. Six-time defending champion Virginia finished fourth behind Virginia Tech, N.C. State and North Carolina.
Making a splash in his first ACC Championships, Miller’s performances stole the show for the Blue Devils.
The freshman took 13th in the 200-yard individual medley finals Thursday night with a time of 1:46.46 after he broke Duke’s record in the event with his 1:45.66 swim in the preliminaries.
Returning to competition the next day, Miller broke the program record in the 400-yard individual medley twice in one day, qualifying for the A finals with his preliminary time of 3:46.80 then further lowering the mark to 3:46.03 in the finals.
Finishing third, Miller became the first Blue Devil in program history to earn All-ACC accolades as a freshman.
Miller broke yet another Duke record Saturday morning in the preliminaries of the 200-yard butterfly, touching the wall in 1:45.18 and advancing to the B-final, where he finished 12th.
"He’s a championship swimmer," Colella said of his freshman medalist. "He really executed a great race plan, made his moves when he needed it and really capitalized on his strengths, and he just did the exact same thing [Friday night]. For a freshman to keep that composure during the course of a 400 IM was just absolutely exciting to watch.”
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Senior Hunter Knight made his bid for the NCAA Championships with a fourth-place finish in the 200-yard breaststroke and a fifth-place finish in the 100-yard breaststroke.
Knight posted the fastest time of the preliminary heats in the 200-breaststroke with his 1:55.47 swim Saturday morning and broke his own program record. With a strong back half to his finals race, the senior touched the wall just off that time in 1:55.66, missing the podium by a tenth of a second.
“It was a great race, great competition,” Knight said. “I’m happy with how my last ACCs went for sure.”
Competing against Notre Dame’s formidable breaststroke trio of Zachary Stephens, Colin Babcock and Cameron Miller, Knight out-touched Miller and tied with Babcock in the 100-yard breaststroke. His final time of 53.43 was good for an NCAA B-standard.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Hunter,” Colella said. “We’re going to miss him. He’s been an absolutely terrific leader this year both in the pool and outside the pool. It’s a result of his kind of leadership that’s helped the program grow this year.”
Fellow Blue Devil Peter Kropp took fourth in the event. The freshman got off to a quick start with a 24.76-second split for the first 50 yards and held on for a final time of 53.34 in the A-final heat.