Duke Swim and Dive to dual UNCW and Virginia Tech

After splitting with Pittsburgh in the season opener two weeks ago, the Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will compete at home in Taishoff Aquatics Pavilion for the first time this season Saturday, Oct. 25 and Sunday, Oct. 26. The Blue Devils welcome UNC Wilmington to Durham Saturday at 11 a.m. before hosting ACC opponent Virginia Tech Sunday at 11 a.m. Live results will be available for both meets.

Blue Devil Women Top Panthers
The Duke women kicked off the 2014-15 campaign with an ACC victory Oct. 11, defeating Pittsburgh by a 162-138 score at the Panthers’ Trees Pool. Sophomore Maddie Rusch turned in a pair of first-place finishes in the sprint freestyle events while freshman Isabella Paez won both the 100 and 200-yard butterfly. Sophomore diver Kirby Quinn added a first-place performance in the women’s 3-meter springboard competition and the Blue Devils’ 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays both out-touched the Panthers.

The Duke men posted some fast times despite falling to Pitt, 170-128. Sophomore Peter Kropp shined with wins in the 100 and 200 breaststroke and the 200 IM. The Los Angeles, Calif., native clocked an NCAA provisionally-qualifying mark in the 100 at 54.26 and teamed with classmates James Peek and Kaz Takabayashi and freshman Ryan Nicholson to take first in the 200 medley relay. The Blue Devils also edged the Panthers in the 400 freestyle relay, with Nicholson, Peek, junior David Armstrong and senior Stefan Knight combining for the first-place showing.

A Look at Duke
Kropp enters the weekend pacing the ACC and ranked fourth nationally in the 100 breaststroke with his 54.26 swim at Pittsburgh. He also ranks second in the conference and 12th in the country in the 200 (2:01.13). In addition, Duke’s 200 medley relay of Takabayashi, Kropp, Nicholson and James comes in at third in the ACC and seventh nationally this week (1:28.65). On the women’s side, freshman Verity Abel ranks third in the league in the 1,000 freestyle with a time of 10:09.49 at Pitt.

Scouting the Seahawks
The UNC Wilmington men are 2-1 on the year with victories against Old Dominion and Emory while the women are 0-4 to start the season. Senior Valtteri Halonen has earned CAA Swimmer of the Week honors for two consecutive weeks after claiming the 100 and 200 backstroke and the 100 butterfly against Emory and swimming on the winning 200 medley relay. The Seahawk men captured their 13th consecutive CAA title last season while the women earned a fourth-place finish at the 2014 conference championship.

Scouting the Hokies
The Virginia Tech men turned in a historic season in 2013-14, claiming the ACC title and placing 20th at the NCAA Championship. Senior Collin Higgins returns after garnering honorable mention All-America accolades last year in the 200 backstroke. The squad defeated Penn State and Old Dominion in the season-opening Virginia Tech Swimming & Diving Challenge last weekend, while the Hokie women topped the Monarchs, Liberty and James Madison but fell to the Nittany Lions. The Virginia Tech women are coming off of a fifth-place showing at last year’s ACC meet and a 24th-place finish at NCAAs. Senior diver Kaylea Arnette was tabbed the ACC Women’s Diver of the Year for the third time in her career in 2014 and captured All-America honors in three events last spring.

The Hokie men and women compete at North Carolina Saturday evening before taking on the Blue Devils Sunday in Taishoff.

Duke Head Coach Dan Colella: 

Duke University swimming and diving head coach Dan Colella

Duke University swimming and diving head coach Dan Colella

“It’s always important when we have the opportunity to simulate the fact that ACCs and NCAAs are multiple days,” said head coach Dan Colella. “The two meets this weekend give us an opportunity to race hard two days in a row. It’s something that helps the athletes mentally and physically, to figure out what’s the best way to recover after the first meet and how to prepare … UNCW is going to be competitive in several events across the board. Sunday is going to be a big challenge. If we’re mentally ready, I think it could be a really competitive meet.”

College Swimming News courtesy of Duke Swim and Dive.

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About Gold Medal Mel Stewart

Gold Medal Mel Stewart

MEL STEWART Jr., aka Gold Medal Mel, won three Olympic medals at the 1992 Olympic Games. Mel's best event was the 200 butterfly. He is a former World, American, and NCAA Record holder in the 200 butterfly. As a writer/producer and sports columnist, Mel has contributed to Yahoo Sports, Universal Sports, …

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