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Duke 200-yard medley relay competes at NCAA Championships

The Blue Devils finished 15th in the preliminary heats to earn a spot in the final, but were disqualified after leaving early from the blocks.
The Blue Devils finished 15th in the preliminary heats to earn a spot in the final, but were disqualified after leaving early from the blocks.

The Blue Devils highlighted their trip to Iowa City, Iowa with a strong performance in Friday’s 200-yard medley relay.

After qualifying a men’s relay to the NCAA Championships for the first time since the automatic and provisional time standards were implemented, Duke finished 15th in the morning preliminaries.

For all four Blue Devils on the relay—sophomores Kaz Takabayashi, Peter Kropp and James Peek and junior David Armstrong—this was their first time competing in the national championships.

“They were absolutely thrilled to compete,” head coach Dan Colella said. “They were incredibly happy, excited and proud to be representing Duke.”

Takabayashi led off on the backstroke with a 22.17-second split. Kropp turned in a quick breaststroke leg, tapping the wall in 23.59 seconds. Armstrong was next in the water with the butterfly, covering the 50 yards in 20.71 seconds. Peek brought the race home, splitting 18.88 seconds for the freestyle—a tenth of a second faster than his performance from the ACC Championships.

The group posted a combined time of 1:25.35, the second-fastest time in program history behind their 1:25.05 performance at the ACC Championships. Duke earned a spot in the evening consolation final and an opportunity to race for All-America honors. But Armstrong took off early on the butterfly leg, and the Blue Devils were disqualified.

Takabayashi, Kropp, Armstrong and Peek will look to score in the evening finals of the event next year, learning from their first swims at the national championships. The four will be key leaders and motivators for the squad next season as Duke will aim to repeat its relay qualification and send more individual participants.

Kropp was the only Blue Devil to qualify individually for this season’s NCAA Championships.

The sophomore competed in Friday’s 100-yard breaststroke preliminaries, just missing a spot in the top-16 finals with a 19th-place finish after recording a time of 52.76 seconds. In Saturday’s 200-yard breaststroke, Kropp finished 40th with a time of 1:57.60.

Despite falling short of his goal of scoring in the 100-yard breaststroke and earning All-America honors, Kropp closed an impressive season with his NCAA debut. The Los Angeles native posted the nation’s second-fastest time in the event—52.02 seconds—at the Nike Cup Invitational in November, breaking the school and conference records in the process. Chasing that mark in the spring, Kropp broke the ACC meet record in the morning preliminaries with a time of 52.17 seconds.

Duke will close the season April 17 with a second Blue-White intrasquad meet at Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion.

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