The Blue Devils entered Saturday aiming to finish the fall season undefeated in dual meets, and Duke did just that.
The Blue Devils cruised through the tri-meet against William & Mary and Old Dominion from start to finish Saturday afternoon at Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion, claiming victories in 29 of 32 events and breaking two pool records and several team records. The No. 17 Duke women overwhelmed the Tribe 181-87 and the Monarchs 177-100. The No. 19 Blue Devil men bested William & Mary 164-108 and took down Old Dominion 181-106.
“Because of our depth, I thought we could come away with wins,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said. “Today they did a great job of being intense from the start to the finish, a lot of great performances. We mixed up the lineup and had some surprises from people in some events, so we’re just really proud of how they stood up and raced today.”
The Blue Devils blasted through the women's 200-yard medley relay to kick off the meet. After breaking the pool record against Florida State last month, the quartet of freshman Mickayla Hinkle, sophomore Leah Goldman and juniors Ashleigh Shanley and Maddie Rusch hit the wall in 1:41.77, 1.15 seconds short of their 1:40.62 record.
But it was only a matter of time before Duke rewrote the record books. In the men's 200-yard medley relay, juniors Kaz Takabayashi and Peter Kropp quickly secured the lead before senior David Armstrong jumped into water. The Thousand Oaks, Calif., native flashed across the pool and touched the wall in a blistering 21.01 seconds to send junior James Peek off for the anchor leg, shaving 0.74 seconds off the previous record to finish in 1:26.73, good for the third-best time nationwide this season.
Duke freshman Maddie Hess was the big record-breaker of Saturday's meet. In her third collegiate meet, Hess claimed the women's 100-yard backstroke with a new pool and program record time of 53.95 seconds, becoming the first Duke female swimmer to complete the race in 54 seconds.
“I feel awesome knowing that all of my hard work is paying off, and I definitely couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Hess said. “My mindset is to go out and execute everything that we’ve been practicing and just going really hard.”
The Brandon, Fla., native also set a new team record in 200-yard backstroke at 1:57.09, and returned to help topple another Taishoff record in the 400-yard freestyle relay at 3:23.33 with teammates Maddie Rusch, Chelsea Ye and Goldman.
“Maddie has been working incredibly hard in the weight room. The strength gains she’s made have been phenomenal,” Colella said. “We’ve been waiting for her to pop some big swims. We’ve seen it coming because of what we’ve seen on a daily basis in her training and I still think it’s just the tip of the iceberg.”
Freshman Hunter Aitchison touched the wall in 10:15.46 in the women's 1,000-yard freestyle, the fastest among Duke female swimmers this season. Takabayashi returned after the record-breaking medley relay and claimed the first spot in the men's 200-yard butterfly in 1:48.16.
Not all the wins came easy for the Blue Devils. In the men's 1,000-yard freestyle, Old Dominion freshman Lucas Cortini Oliveira led early in the first one-third of the race, with Duke sophomore Marco Hosfeld trailing far behind. But Hosfeld gradually closed the gap until the two were side by side in lap 25. Five laps later, Hosfeld held a one-second lead on Oliveira. William & Mary freshman Eric Grimes attempted to challenge Hosfeld in the final 100 yards of the race, but the Coral Springs, Fla., native held his ground and touched the wall first.
The Tribe and Monarchs did not leave Taishoff empty-handed, though. William & Mary senior Will Manion topped both the men's 100- and 200-yard backstroke events in 49.33 seconds and 1:49.06, respectively. Old Dominion freshman Emilie Petit led the women's 400-yard individual medley at 4:35.59.
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On the other end of the pavilion, Duke’s divers continued the dominant performance on the springboards. Freshmen Mackenzie Willborn and Evan Moretti took first place in both one- and three-meter boards competitions. Willborn completed the one-meter jump with a season-best 298.73 points, the fourth-best score in school history. Moretti joined his teammate to exceed the NCAA Zones qualification standards in both disciplines.
“It’s different, the dual meets having the swimming and everything going on,” Willborn said. “I’m not really used to it, but I really enjoy it. The energy is really high and it’s a lot of fun. I really like competing under pressure so it’s good to have that kind of atmosphere.”