There will need to be a lot of pages added to the Duke record book after this weekend. The Blue Devils capped off a successful weekend at the N.C. State Invite in Greensboro, N.C., with many swimmers recording historic performances.
Both teams placed fifth overall at the invitational, facing some of the toughest competition in the country. On the men’s side, there were three top-10 teams represented at the tournament: Arizona State, Stanford and N.C. State. The latter two are ranked in the top 10 for women’s as well.
Junior Sarah Foley was the star of the show, breaking multiple school records. She broke her own record in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 59.39, and broke the record in the 200-yard breaststroke while also winning the event in 2:06:61. The Philadelphia native nearly broke her record in the 200-yard individual medley, but still placed second in the event, trailing only Stanford’s Torri Huske. All three of these performances earned NCAA B-Cut times, which is a coveted qualification for collegiate swimmers. In all, Duke recorded 18 B-Cut times on the weekend.
“She's one of our captains. She's one of our leaders. She just does a phenomenal job at everything that she does,” said associate head coach Doak Finch of Foley.
Foley was also a participant in multiple relay teams that were extremely successful. The 400-yard medley relay team consisting of Foley, Emma Shuppert, Kaelyn Gridley and Aleyna Ozkan placed third in the event while also posting the second-fastest time in school history with 3:33:03.
A few freshman standouts for the women’s team also performed remarkably well. Gridley kept pace with Foley, finishing just behind her in the 100-yard and 200-yard breaststrokes. She earned NCAA B-Cut times in both of these events. Martina Peroni has been a bright spot for the Blue Devils all season and continued this production over the weekend. She earned three B-Cut times, along with posting the third-best time in school history in both the 200-yard individual medley and the 200-yard butterfly. Freestyle swimmer Tatum Wall recorded the fastest time of the season for the Blue Devils in the 100-yard event, and the second fastest in the 50-yard.
“[The freshman success] says a lot. It says we’re continuing to build to be one of the top teams in the nation. That is our goal,” said Finch. “For them to already be having success is fantastic because of the numerous changes that happen between high school and college.”
Other top performances by women included Easop Lee, who earned a top-10 time in program history in the 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard breaststroke. Catherine Purnell swam the fifth-fastest time ever for a Blue Devil in both the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle. In addition, Purnell performed well in the 400-yard individual medley, earning a B-cut time and posting the eighth-fastest time in school history.
The men’s team had its share of record-breaking performances during the competition. Senior Brad Sanford had an excellent meet, swimming Duke’s fastest time of the season in the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races. In addition, the 200-yard freestyle team of Sanford, Coleman Kredich, Charlie Gingrich and Jack Christian finished with a time of 1:20:22, more than a second faster than any other time this season.
“Brad had a great ACC’s last year and he's picking up and letting things flow,” said Finch. “We have great leadership on the men’s side and continue to develop bonds.”
Christian, a sophomore, had two additional performances ranking in the top 10 in program history, swimming for 10th all-time in the 100-yard backstroke, and eighth all-time in the 200-yard event. Junior David Chang also competed in the 100-yard backstroke for the Blue Devils, finishing just ahead of Christian and recording a time of 48.39, good for seventh in school history.
“Jack had some sparks at the UNC-W meet, and he came back and won several lifetime bests, which was phenomenal. He's been putting in great work,” said Finch.
Three other Blue Devil men had standout performances, all posting the fastest time so far this season by a Duke swimmer. Graduate student Cole Reznick swam the 200-yard individual medley in the eighth fastest time in Duke program history. In the 200-yard freestyle, sophomore Blake Johnson swam a time of 1:37:80, and in the 200-yard breaststroke, Will Tempas swam a time of 2:00.04.
“Anytime we have people that are getting season bests, especially on the men's side with very little rest, I think it bodes well for the end of the season,” said Finch.
After a successful weekend, a select few of the Blue Devils team will remain in Greensboro to compete in the U.S. Open from Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. The remaining members of the team will travel to Charlotte to face Queens Dec. 3.
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Ranjan Jindal is a Trinity first-year and an assistant Blue Zone editor of The Chronicle's 119th volume.