After a short hiatus from Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion, Duke came storming back with victories on both the men’s and women’s sides. From the get-go, the Blue Devils smelt blood in the water, and the Gamecocks chose the wrong Friday to come to Durham. With convincing victories, the Duke men (182-116) and women (187-113) picked up another pair of wins.
The Duke women got off to a hot start, going 1-2 in the 200-yard medley relay. The Blue Devils continued that dominance throughout the remainder of the meet, only dropping the 200-yard backstroke to the Gamecocks.
Freshmen Kaelyn Gridley and Martina Peroni continue to add to their stellar first-year campaigns, both picking up wins in their respective events, Gridley in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:00.82), Peroni in the 200-yard butterfly (1:58.83).
This freshman class was very hyped coming in for the Blue Devils, and they have not disappointed. Having been on campus for less than three months, the class already has two top-20 individual times nationwide, as well as one of the members (Gridley) contributing on a relay that is ranked in the top five as of Nov. 4.
“And not only just in domains, but in practices. They're top-notch not only in the rankings, but also as teammates, supporting, pushing, you know, challenging, and the team has really responded,” associate head coach Doak Finch said of the freshman class. “The rankings are one thing, you know, everybody sees them race. Not everybody sees them in the practice pool and how they support the team.”
For the upperclassmen, Sarah Foley and Mckenna Smith were standout performances, walking away with three and two individual wins, respectively, for the women’s team (3-0). Foley, a swimmer to watch for the rest of the season, appears to be picking up momentum early this year and the rest of the ACC should be hoping she slows down.
On the men’s side, the team's strong sprinting core propelled the Blue Devils to victory, highlighted by the 1-2-4 finish in the men’s 50-yard freestyle by Brad Sanford, Coleman Kredich and Charlie Gingrich. Sanford and Kredich also doubled up Friday, winning the 100-yard butterfly (48.58) and 100-yard freestyle (44.82).
The Duke men (2-1) also continued their medley relay dominance. The combined team of David Chang, Cole Reznick, Gingrich and Sanford brought home the win for the Blue Devils for the third-straight dual meet with a time of 1:28.24.
Reznick, a current fifth-year, proved again why his choice to stay an extra year is paying off for Duke. Reznick picked up individual wins in the 100-yard breaststroke (55.70), 200-yard breaststroke (2:02.85), and 200-yard IM (1:51.50).
For the Blue Devil men, it was a hard-fought win over a good SEC opponent. “I think overall individually and as a team, we performed great,” Sanford said. “We knew this meet was going to be a battle going into it. We knew each race, it just came down to a 100th of a second. So yeah, I just tried to get my hands on the wall and both individuals and it worked out.”
Up next for the Blue Devils is the N.C. State Invitational in Greensboro, N.C., Nov. 17-19. Both the men and women have the chance to prove themselves against the top teams in the country that will also be in attendance. If this Blue Devil team can keep firing, Duke fans should be excited to see what this team does on the big stage.
“The energy and the enthusiasm, it's been kind of a theme for every practice, to try and just bring that atmosphere and if you practice it enough, it becomes a habit and it shows up all the time.” said Finch when asked about the continuation of momentum toward the N.C. State Invite. “And so that's what they've been doing and that's what it's really been showing through on the on the weekends.”
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