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Three more Duke swimmers earn invitations to NCAA championships

The postseason will continue for three school record-holders as they return to the national stage to represent the Blue Devils in nine total events.

Sophomores Leah Goldman and Isa Paez and junior Maddie Rusch earned invitations to the 2016 NCAA championships in Atlanta March 17-19 based on their season-best times in their signature events.

The pair of sophomore butterfliers will make their second straight trip to the national meet. Goldman punched her ticket to Atlanta by posting the 23rd-fastest time in the nation so far this season in the 100-yard butterfly with her fourth-place finish in 52.32 seconds at the ACC championships Feb. 19. She will also have the opportunity to swim the events in which she has earned a provisional qualifying time—the 200-yard individual medley and 100-yard freestyle.

Paez also posted the nation’s 23rd-best time in the 200-yard butterfly with a fourth-place conference finish to secure her invitation in a school-record time of 1:56.04. The Medley, Fla., native will also compete in the shorter butterfly distance thanks to her B cut in the event.

Rusch—who served as the butterfly leg on Duke’s 200-yard medley relay at the 2014 NCAA championships—will compete individually on the national stage for the first time. The New Canaan, Conn., native recorded the No. 19 time in the 50-yard freestyle of 22.14 seconds for the win at the Nike Cup Invitational in November. Rusch’s season-best times in the 100-yard freestyle and butterfly of 49.55 and 53.17 seconds, respectively, are also provisional cut times and will allow her to swim three events in Atlanta.

Sophomore Verity Abel is listed as the meet’s first alternate based on her 16:17.89 swim in the mile at the Bulldog Last Chance Meet Sunday. If one of the 322 automatically qualified and invited swimmers scratches from the meet, she will have the opportunity to swim her signature distance event as well as the 500-yard freestyle and the 400-yard individual medley.

The Blue Devils need to add one more individual athlete to their NCAA roster to advance their B-cut relays and will look to their divers for help. Freshman Mackenzie Willborn and sophomore Maryellen Targonski will compete in the NCAA Zone B Diving championships March 7-9 in Atlanta.


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