The Blue Devils toppled school records left and right as they swam and dove to a strong performance at this weekend’s three-day Tennessee Invitational.
At the Volunteers’ Allan Jones Aquatic Center in Knoxville, Tenn., the No. 16 Duke women took second, finishing only behind No. 9 Tennessee. The Blue Devil men finished the weekend in third place.
“The third day [Saturday] is a big day and it’s a tough day,” said head coach Dan Colella told GoDuke.com. “We always talk about, you have to fight to get back at night. A lot of folks got a second opportunity to race tonight and we saw a number of them improve upon their performances. I think the overall weekend has been beneficial. We had several school records.”
Duke indeed shattered several school records over the course of the weekend. Junior Alyssa Marsh toppled her first school record of the weekend in the 50 free Thursday, touching the wall in 22.34. Marsh continued her dominant performance throughout the weekend by knocking down three records in three days.
“Today [Friday] we had two more school records broke—Alyssa Marsh in the 100 free and then to finish up on the women’s side, the 400 freestyle relay," Colella said. "To have a performance like that at this meet, at this time in the season, I think is a great indicator of things to come.”
On Saturday, Marsh surpassed the previous 100 freestyle mark twice. In the prelims, Marsh swam a 49.77 and then a blistering 49.51 in the finals to take second overall.
The Blue Devils also took down the 400 free relay record with a team of Melissa Pish, Maddie Hess, Hunter Aitchison and Marsh that finished in 3:15.32.
Duke’s dominance also extended to the diving platform. All eight divers finished within the top six spots. Junior Nathaniel Hernandez notched a career best of 380.45 to take second in the men’s division while senior Evan Moretti earned 328.50 for third.
“Platform is a really fun event,” Hernandez said. “We were good about getting behind each other and cheering really loud … I’m really happy with how we performed as a squad. Even looking yesterday at the women’s one-meter final, going second through seventh place, that shows our dominance as a program. I was excited to see all our hard work this season paying off.”
For the Blue Devil women, senior Mackenzie Willborn scored 253.85 for second and freshman Maddi Pullinger trailed just four and a half tenths behind with 253.40 for third place.
“We were all really consistent today which was good to see,” Willborn said. “That’s been one of our goals for the whole meet and I think we really carried it through three-meter, one-meter and on to tower so it was nice to finish up that way.”
Duke wrapped up its fall slate with a strong showing at this weekend’s event, displaying promise as they move into the latter half of their competition schedule.
“This season, we’re only halfway,” Colella said. “We have another 11 weeks to women’s and 12 weeks to men’s ACCs and then NCAAs afterwards. That’s the great thing, to be able to come to this meet and see results from work that you put in this fall is only going to motivate and inspire them to continue to push to new levels in the second half of the season.”
After the team's annual training trip in late December, the Blue Devils will return to competition Jan. 12 against Queens University of Charlotte and William & Mary in the regular season home finale.
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