Junior Maddi Pullinger nabbed honorable mention All-American honors yesterday on the second day of the NCAA Women’s Swimming and Diving Championships, setting a high bar for Duke’s rebound season.
Pullinger competed in the championships of the one-meter dive event, where she scored a 275.25 and placed 15th. She previously qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2019, where she placed 23rd, making this week’s showing her best yet.
A native of Sydney, Australia, Pullinger qualified for the championships with the sixth of seven spots from the Zone B Diving Championships after a season that saw her place sixth at the ACC Championships.
While Pullinger has previously competed in platform and three-meter diving, the one-meter dive is her bread and butter. She currently holds the record for second highest one-meter dive score in women’s program history with a score of 326.70 against ECU and Richmond in 2018.
However, the most valuable thing Pullinger adds to the team is leadership. She is one of three Blue Devil athletes who are competing in the NCAA Championships for a second time, and that experience is vital to helping the four newcomers manage such a large stage.
This season also represents somewhat of a comeback season for Pullinger, and her performance yesterday capped it off nicely. After having a stellar freshman season—she placed second at the ACC Championships, fourth at the Zone B Championships for the one-meter and received All-ACC honors—she dipped a little, only placing 13th at the Zone B competition last year. However, she showed yesterday that she can still compete with the best of them, and there is surely more to come in her collegiate career.
In many ways, Pullinger’s season mirrors the rest of her team’s. Three women qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships, but the competition was unfortunately cancelled because of the pandemic. As such, the team has been fighting all season to rebound from that setback and prove their skills. With seven women qualifying for this weekend’s competition, it is safe to say they did so.
While Pullinger has finished her turn at the championships, there are still two days of competition left, so look for the Blue Devils to return to the stage with vengeance and enthusiasm.