The Blue Devils ended the regular season with a close dual against their Tobacco Road rivals Jan. 30, and a select group of swimmers will face the Tar Heels again less than a week later.
Duke will head to the Koury Natatorium in Chapel Hill starting Friday for the three-day Carolina College Invitational, the final meet of the 2015-16 campaign before the four-day conference championships starting Feb. 17 for the women and Feb. 24 for the men.
Some Blue Devils will be tapered and rested for a full slate of events at this weekend’s competition, and others will race an event or two one last time before turning their attention to ACC championship preparation.
“[For this group] they’ve been resting for the last two or three weeks—everybody is a little bit different in the taper process,” Duke head coach Dan Colella said. “We are getting them fully ready to be at their best this weekend. For those [for whom] this is the end of the season—especially the seniors—obviously they’re excited to swim fast this weekend.”
The inaugural Carolina College Invitational in 2015 featured six teams, and though two of those six—UNC-Wilmington and Old Dominion—will not compete this weekend, the meet has expanded from two to three days of preliminaries and finals sessions. The Blue Devils will swim against North Carolina, N.C. State, William & Mary and James Madison and will look to build on last season’s success of 15 top-three finishes and seven event wins.
Junior Lindsay Schlichte won the 500-yard freestyle last season in 4:54.45 and finished second in the 200-yard freestyle in 1:51.89. Junior Joey Maginnis won the 100-yard backstroke in 49.76 seconds—a personal-best—and junior Benedict Parfit touched first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 20.49 seconds. All three Blue Devils will return to Koury Natatorium this weekend to defend their 2015 victories.
For a handful of seniors, this weekend’s meet will mark their last swims in a Duke suit, including Lexi Mendes, Kiera Molloy and Linsay Cooper on the women’s side. On the men’s side, seniors Delaney Lagrew, Kenny Ng and Ryan Prince have also tapered for this meet to serve as their season and career finales.
“This senior group has been instrumental in creating what we saw this year,” Colella said. “I am confident that they are thrilled with what has transpired over the course of the season. In the four years that they have been here, they have all verbalized that this has been the most rewarding and most exciting year. They are very excited about the next chapter of life—they have worked incredibly hard in the classroom and in the pool to really set themselves up for next year.”
Some Blue Devils will use the meet as a final tune-up before the postseason.
After a disappointing disqualification for a false start in the 200-yard medley relay against North Carolina, members of the men’s squad will take one last shot at improving their seed time—10th in the nation and third in the ACC—before the conference championships. The event will be the only swim of the weekend for Peter Kropp, David Armstrong and James Peek.
The men’s 200-yard freestyle will also feature a number of Duke swimmers competing only in the morning preliminaries, but sophomore Matt Johnson will be swimming the event butterfly.
For the remainder of the roster, this weekend will be the first of two without a competition as the Blue Devils wrap up their final full days of training before beginning the taper process for the ACC championships.