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Duke swimming beats UNCW, falls to Virginia Tech

The Blue Devils performed well against UNC-Wilmington but fell to ACC foe Virginia Tech.
The Blue Devils performed well against UNC-Wilmington but fell to ACC foe Virginia Tech.

Six Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion records were broken this weekend—but only two by a Blue Devil touch stopping the clock.

Duke faced its first doubleheader of the season, defeating UNC-Wilmington Saturday but falling to Virginia Tech 180-115 on the men’s side and 176-116 on the women’s side Sunday.

The squad got off to a slow start in Sunday’s ACC dual meet. A relay win along with a one-two finish in the 100-yard breaststroke by Kropp and Dylan Payne helped the Blue Devil men minimize the Hokies’ lead to 31 points at the first break, but the women’s squad had fallen behind 102-48.

“We knew they were going to be a great competitor,” head coach Dan Colella said. “We allowed ourselves to get a little too caught up in not winning the first few events, and it took a little energy out of the group.”

The Blue Devil swimmers struggled to bring the team back into contention for the win, but they had too much ground to make up after the first event.

Before the races started, the Hokies swept the men’s 1-meter and women’s 3-meter springboard events, outscoring the highest-placing Blue Devils sophomore Cole Plambeck and freshman Maryellen Targonski by more than 40 points. The deficit was too much for Duke to overcome down the stretch.

The Blue Devils' men’s 200-yard medley relay kicked off the swimming portion of the meet with a new pool record. Sophomore Kaz Takabayashi led off on backstroke, sending sophomore Peter Kropp for the breaststroke leg. Kropp gave freshman Ryan Nicholson more than a half-second lead heading into the butterfly. Sophomore James Peek brought home the win with a split of 19.95 seconds for his 50-yard freestyle leg for a final time of 1:29.27.

Sophomore Jessica Sutherland earned Duke’s only win for the women in the first half of the meet, turning in a time of 55.64 seconds in the 100-yard backstroke. Classmate Maddie Rusch was touched out in the 50-yard freestyle, coming into the wall with a time of 23.68 seconds—one-hundredth of a second behind Virginia Tech’s Margaret Parcell. Freshman Leah Goldman was close behind in third, finishing in 23.71 seconds.

Virginia Tech did not let up coming out of the break. The Hokies set back-to-back pool records in the women’s and men’s 200-yard backstroke. Klaudia Nazieblo and Collin Higgins dominated their races from start to finish, opening up leads of more than a body length and finishing in 1:59.48 and 1:46.76, respectively.

Virginia Tech claimed another men’s pool record in the 200-yard freestyle with Owen Burns touching the wall with a time of 1:38.66.

Kropp claimed Duke’s only individual pool record of the meet in the 200-yard breaststroke. Leading at the 100-yard mark with a split of 58.19 seconds, he maintained his position at the front of the heat for a 2:00.61 finish.

The Blue Devils were again able to break up the Virginia Tech chanting on the sideline following Hokie first-place finishes in both the men’s and women’s 200-yard individual medley.

Freshman Leah Goldman earned her second win in the event against conference competitors this season, touching the wall in 2:04.94.

“I knew I wanted to win it and close the meet for our girls,” Goldman said. “Mentally, I knew I had to give it all I had left for the weekend and hope it would turn out well.”

Sophomore Bradley Cline took first on the men’s side with a time of 1:51.61, holding off teammate Kropp’s strong breaststroke and freestyle. Kropp finished second in 1:52.61.

Virginia Tech responded in the final event with a one-two finish in the women’s 400-yard freestyle relay and a new pool record of 3:00.72 in the men’s.

Despite being unable to close the score gap, Colella was pleased with how his team was able to rebound in the second half of the meet.

“We asked them how many season best swims we had today, and three-quarters of the group raised hands,” Colella said. “We need to celebrate when we are improving. There is always more that we need to do, but had we been a little more excited about the performances at the front end of the meet, it probably would have allowed us to be that much better on the back end of the meet.”

The Blue Devils had no difficulty with excitement the day before, opening home competition with a win on both sides against the Seahawks Saturday.

The men outscored UNC-Wilmington 165-128, claiming first in both relays, both springboard events and nine individual events. Duke dominated the breaststrokes, with the trio of Kropp, Payne and junior Victor Chen sweeping both the 100- and 200-yard events. Kropp earned his second NCAA B time standard in the 100-yard breaststroke, touching the wall in 54.52 seconds. His winning time in the 200 yards was 2:02.98.

In the diving well, Plambeck took first on both the 1-meter and 3-meter springboards. With a score of 300.23 on the 1-meter board, the sophomore surpassed the NCAA Zone qualifying standard.

With a score of 310.05 for a win on the 3-meter, sophomore Kirby Quinn earned her NCAA Zone qualifying standard. Shortly after, freshman Targonski did the same, winning the 1-meter event with a score of 290.18.

The women also took first in both relays and ten individual events to seal the win Saturday.

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