The Blue Devils swimming and diving team will once again be splitting up to compete this weekend.
Duke will send six swimmers and two divers to compete in the first-ever ACC/Big Ten Challenge at Purdue’s Morgan J. Burke Aquatic Center in West Lafayette, Ind. The others will be headed to Princeton, N.J. for the Big Al Invite.
“We’re incredibly proud of the group that’s heading up there this weekend representing Duke and the ACC as they compete against the Big Ten,” head coach Dan Colella said. "It’s going to be a weekend with a lot of pride on the line and I think there’s going to be a tremendous amount of fast swimming. For us, both the group that’s going to Purdue as well as the group that’s going up to Princeton, its an opportunity to have a multiple session meet.”
A new meet, the ACC/Big Ten Challenge will debut with juniors Kylie Jordan and Alyssa Marsh on its ACC women’s swimming roster and seniors Judd Howard, Max St. George and junior Miles Williams on its men’s roster. Nathaniel Hernandez and Evan Moretti will be representing the nine-person diving team.
On Saturday the meet will start at 5 p.m. with the 400-yard medley relay, 400 individual medley, 100 freestyle, 200 backstroke, 200 breaststroke, 100 butterfly, 500 freestyle, women’s platform, men’s three-meter diving and the 800-freestyle relay. This will be a two-session meet with players competing both on Saturday and Sunday.
“The Big Ten/ACC challenge is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,” added Coach Colella. "In the conference, all the coaches are really excited when you get basically two all-star teams like this coming together it’s just an absolute formula for some great great performances.”
The Blue Devils that will be attending the Big Al Invite will be expected to fill in the gap of their top placing teammates who will be unable to join them in New Jersey. Although, with so many players on the roster—including 20 newcomers—there’s plenty of room for some of the Duke team to step it up. The freshmen have already shown their abilities, as many of them competed in the first two meets of the season.
“I think Princeton will be interesting just because with the ACC/Big Ten challenge going on this weekend as well, we’re going to be short those athletes and those are key players for us and so it’s going to give some other athletes on the team an opportunity to have to really step up and fill in their shoes.”
The Big Al Invite, like the ACC/Big Ten Challenge, will be a two-day meet. The divers competed very well last weekend, with four first place finishes, so the diving events will definitely be something to look to this weekend. Both teams were also recently listed in the TYR Top 23 Dual Meet Rankings by the College Swimming Coaches Association of America.
“For those going up to Princeton it’s another opportunity to swim where usually a dual meet is one session and then it’s over with, this is going to be three sessions, it’s going to be a lot of racing,” said Colella. "They're going to have to really make sure that they’re doing the things that they need to be doing. Not only in that particular session but that they’re doing great recovery so that they’re prepared for the next session. It’s a great dry run for the big championship meets.”
With the team in the midst of a lot of training, this weekend will be good preparation for the Tennessee Invitational that will be held at the end of November in Knoxville, Tenn.
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