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SWIM/DIVE: Pool Records Fall Against NC State, Miami

Posted November 3, 2012

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— First-place finishes in 10 individual events and one relay propelled the Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams to a strong performance Saturday in Atlantic Coast Conference action against NC State and Miami. The Blue Devil women defeated Miami, 164-133, while both the men’s and women’s squads fell to the Wolfpack at home in Taishoff Aquatic Pavilion.

Junior Christine Wixted paced the short-handed women’s team, winning the 100 and 200-yard breaststroke events in addition to the 200 individual medley for the second straight meet, while junior Hunter Knight swept both breaststroke titles and classmate Steven Gasparini added first-place finishes in the 100 backstroke and 200 individual medley to lead the Duke men.

“We knew that NC State, after watching the way they’ve been performing this fall, not only do they have some really talented athletes but they’re also extremely deep,” said head coach Dan Colella. “Our goal with them was just to really race hard, and I think our swimmers did a good job of that … For our women to stand up and beat an ACC opponent was huge. I’m really proud of what the women did today.”

The Blue Devils saw a pool record fall early on in the meet as Gasparini broke 50 seconds in a first-place finish in the 100 backstroke. A product of Yorktown, Pa., Gasparini recorded a time of 49.88 to just out-touch Ivan Kopas of NC State and collect his first individual win against an ACC opponent since transferring to Duke a year ago. Meanwhile, sophomore Megan McCarroll posted a season-best time of 56.29 to place second in the same event on the women’s side. She also registered her best mark of the season in the 200 backstroke, touching in 2:03.15 to take first.

In the women’s 100 breaststroke, Wixted bested her own pool record at 1:02.01 for her best clocking of the season and an NCAA provisional qualifying standard. She remains undefeated in the event on the year, having placed first at the 100-yard distance three times in as many meets. The Greenwood Village, Colo., native completed the sweep of the breaststroke events later in the afternoon, taking the 200 in a season-best time of 2:16.50.

Junior Hunter Knight turned in a first-place showing in the men’s 100 breaststroke, notching a time of 55.92 for his best mark of the season and his third win of the year in the event. He also collected a first-place finish at the 200-yard distance, swimming 2:05.95, while senior Jim Zuponeck came in third at 2:06.97.

Duke also excelled in the sprint freestyle events, as junior Lauren Weaver took home the title in the 50 freestyle at 23.24 and freshman Kathryn Eckhart came in fourth while recording her best mark of the season at 24.05. A short while later, Weaver tapped the wall at 52.55 in the 100 freestyle for her best time of the season and a third-place finish. Senior Adam Flur paced the men with a third-place performance in the 50 freestyle (21.13), followed by freshman Romain Decrop in fourth (21.17).

Freshman Kiera Molloy shaved nearly four seconds off of her performance last week in the 1,000 freestyle, touching at 10:21.36 to finish second. The rookie from Raleigh, N.C., also placed fourth at the 500-yard distance in a season-best 5:05.64. In the men’s 1,000 freestyle, senior Alex Harmon finished third at 9:43.91 and rookie Kevin Butz edged NC State’s Brian Via to come in fourth (9:48.74), while sophomore Michael Donnelley led the Blue Devils in the 500 freestyle with a fourth-place finish (4:44.21).

The 100 butterfly events included a second-place showing by Gasparini (50.49) and a third-place effort from freshman Linsay Cooper (57.38). The Blue Devils then closed out the individual swimming events with a pair of first-place performances in the 200 individual medley as Wixted (2:05.32) and Gasparini (1:52.83) cruised to wins.

Senior Jordan Long earned a first-place finish in the men’s 3-meter diving competition, receiving an NCAA Zone Diving Championships qualifying mark of 362.95 to lead the Duke divers. Freshman Deon Reid placed fourth in the men’s 1-meter competition (278.20), followed by sophomore Clay Pinckney in fifth (273.40). On the women’s side, rookies Kendall McClenney and Jaimee Gundry finished fifth and seventh, respectively on the 1-meter board and notched sixth and seventh-place performances at the 3-meter height.

“Jordan had a great day today,” said head diving coach Drew Johansen. “He keeps putting up scores that we want to be seeing in the postseason. [The freshmen] are slowly building into their complete lists that they’re using and learning the whole collegiate competitive experience.”

After the Blue Devil men and women each raced to second-place finishes in the 200 medley relays at the beginning of the meet, the men rounded out the afternoon with a first-place performance in the 400 freestyle relay, as the team of Decrop, Donnalley, freshman Sam Skinner and Flur posted a time of 3:05.94.

“We had some really solid medley relays,” Colella said. “We were short a couple of bodies there because of illness, but those that stepped in did a great job.”

The Duke women move to 2-3 overall and 1-2 against ACC opponents after Saturday’s meet, while the men’s squad falls to 1-3 overall and 0-3 in conference action.

Following nearly two weeks of preparation, the Duke swimmers will resume action Nov. 15-17 at the Tennessee Invitational in Knoxville, Tenn. Meanwhile, the program’s divers will compete Nov. 15-17 at the Nike Cup Invitational in Durham and Chapel Hill.

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