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SWIM/DIVE: Blue Devils Fall to South Carolina in Home Finale

Posted January 12, 2013

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— The Duke swimming and diving teams turned in a number of standout performances but were unable to hold off visiting South Carolina Saturday in the Blue Devils’ home finale at Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion. The men’s dual meet came down to the final relay with Duke falling to the Gamecocks by 159-141 margin, while South Carolina also picked up a win over the Blue Devils on the women’s side, 184-115.

Duke swimmers and divers totaled 11 individual and two relay victories on the afternoon in their last non-conference dual meet of the season.

The program’s swimmers opened the meet in strong fashion, as the team of junior Steven Gasparini, junior Hunter Knight, freshman Sam Skinner and senior Ben Hwang edged South Carolina in the 200 medley relay, posting a time of 1:31.49 in the win.

The Duke divers logged impressive performances all around, winning three of the four springboard diving events. Senior Abby Johnston took first in the women’s 1-meter competition with an NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualifying mark of 309.83 while freshman Jaimee Gundry placed second on the 3-meter board at 237.00. Senior Jordan Long edged teammate Nick McCrory to win the men’s 3-meter competition with a score of 377.10, good for NCAA Zone Diving qualification. Meanwhile, McCrory posted a win at the 1-meter height, garnering a score of 379.50 on his list of six dives to finish the day with NCAA Zone Diving qualifying marks in both springboard events.

“The whole team had a good day,” said diving coach Drew Johansen. “Jordan, in his senior year, winning the 3-meter event was great. He and Nick had a great battle going on. And then Abby and [freshman] Kendall [McClenney] both had great performances on the 1-meter.”

Freshman Kiera Molloy kicked off the individual swimming events with a third-place finish in the women’s 1,000 freestyle, clocking 10:28.77. Fellow rookie Chelsea Ye added a second-place performance in the 200 freestyle, touching in a season-best time of 1:52.06, while sophomore Michael Donnalley notched a third-place finish in the same event on the men’s side with a time of 1:43.39.

Gasparini claimed Duke’s first individual win of the afternoon in the men’s 100 backstroke, touching in 50.45 to edge South Carolina’s Michael Covert. The Blue Devils then swept the 100 breaststroke events, with Hunter Knight eclipsing the pool record in the men’s race at 55.65 for his fourth win of the season in the event. On the women’s side, junior Christine Wixted also won at the 100-yard distance for the fourth time this season, besting the field in a 1:02.83 clocking.

Sophomore Ali Horn followed with a first-place finish in the women’s 200 butterfly, tapping the wall at 2:05.26. Duke collected another sweep in the 50 freestyle events, as junior Lauren Weaver won the women’s race with a time of 23.28 and Hwang (20.26) and senior Adam Flur (21.01) went one-two on the men’s side. Hwang also edged the field in the 100 freestyle, recording a season-best time of 44.90 for his second individual win of the meet. Ye paced the Blue Devil women with a first-place finish in the women’s 100 freestyle, notching a mark of 52.53.

Senior Ted Minturn placed second in the 200 backstroke, touching in a season-best time of 1:52.69, before Wixted also took second in the 200 breaststroke at 2:15.91. In the men’s 200 breaststroke, Hunter Knight once again emerged the winner with a time of 2:02.83.

The women’s 100 butterfly event saw Weaver take second, just behind South Carolina’s Casey Papp, at 57.10. Horn followed suit, clocking 2:08.26 in a second-place showing in the women’s 200 IM, while Hunter Knight (1:53.77) and Gasparini (1:54.32) finished second and third, respectively, in the same event on the men’s side.

Weaver, freshman Linsay Cooper, Wixted and Ye capped off the afternoon for the Duke women with a first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay (3:29.89). The team of sophomore Stefan Knight, Donnalley, freshman Sam Skinner and Hwang placed second (3:05.35) behind South Carolina in the men’s 400 freestyle relay to close out the meet.

“It’s always interesting to see how you compete the first time coming off of a break like we just came off of,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Our last time competing was back in November at the Tennessee Invite, and I thought both teams raced extremely hard today … The energy stayed on high and they continued to race hard all the way to the very end. It’s a great start to our second semester.”

Saturday’s meet also marked Senior Day for 15 Blue Devils who will be graduating in May. Emily Barber, Jacob Bieze, Matt Carder, Chris Cirillo, Adam Flur, Ben Hwang, Abby Johnston, Jordan Long, Ted Minturn, Evan Schwartz, Ty Stahl, Francesca Tocci, Cara Vogel, Mariah White and Jim Zuponeck were all recognized for their contributions to the program prior to the start of the meet.

“This was a great way to send off our seniors,” Colella said. “This was their last meet here at Taishoff and it was a nice way to send them off after their four years of being committed and the things they’ve done for the program.”

Up next, the men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hit the road Sunday, Jan. 20 for a dual meet in Charlottesville, Va., against reigning Atlantic Coast Conference champions Virginia.

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