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The more you know: Broken records, podium sweeps point to strong season for Duke diving

Duke diving will look to continue its hot start to the season in its upcoming meet in Knoxville, Tenn.
Duke diving will look to continue its hot start to the season in its upcoming meet in Knoxville, Tenn.

A number of Blue Devil divers have already proven themselves to be valuable contributors in the 2023-24 aquatics season. The Blue Zone breaks down the need-to-know names and stats from the first few weeks of competition: 

Key names: Margo O’Meara and Will McCollum

With only a few meets under its belt, Duke diving has already emerged as a powerhouse within the conference. Juniors Margo O’Meara and Will McCollum rank among the best — both have recently been named ACC Divers of the Week. Each earned the title after standout performances in the squad's meet against UNC Wilmington. 

O’Meara used the home opener as an opportunity to re-establish her reputation as a formidable opponent after returning from injury. While diving for only the second time, she managed to break the Taishoff pool record on the 1-meter board. Her score of 345.38 was more than enough to unseat the previous record of 335.85, set in 2014 by Virginia Tech’s Kaylea Arnett. The dive also qualified her for the NCAA zones competition.

On the men’s side, Will McCollum put up a similarly impressive showing. He swept the diving events for the men’s program, securing first place on both the 1-meter and 3-meter boards with scores of 346.65 and 384.53, respectively. Both were NCAA qualifying zone scores and ACC-recognition worthy. 

Key numbers: 18 podium finishes

Overall, the Blue Devils' divers have managed to put together five sweeps and 18 podium finishes in the first three meets of the season. Sophomore Josie Zillig, senior Emily Rakestraw and graduate student Ali Watson have swept the 3-meter dive at every dual meet so far, with individual places varying. McCollum, senior Seamus Harding Jr. and freshman Charles Berman delivered the men’s first sweep in the 3-meter dive at Virginia Tech, while McCollum, Harding and sophomore Yannis Schattman also swept both podiums against UNC Wilmington. After only two dual meets, Duke secured a total of seven first-place finishes.

In the more recent and competitive tri-meet against N.C. State and Georgia, the Blue Devils posted slightly lower scores than usual. However, they still kept competitors on their toes and delivered valuable points to the team. O’Meara finished second in the 1-meter dive with a score of 312.25. Zillig snagged fourth with a score of 272.90, as did McCollum with a score of 337.35. 

Looking forward:

O’Meara’s record-breaking return, coupled with the depth of both programs, hints at an exciting remainder of the season for Duke diving. As the Blue Devils travel to the Tennessee Invitational this weekend, they will get a chance to compete against nine other schools – including reigning NCAA Women’s Championship winner Virginia. A strong performance could solidify their standing as a dangerous ACC opponent. The invitational will also see the divers compete for the first time without the swimmers, offering them the chance to demonstrate that they can hold their own in the pool.

After competing in Tennessee, the divers will have a short break before traveling to Greensboro for the USA Swimming Toyota U.S. Open.


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