The Blue Devil men and women were led by several rookies in the backstroke events last season, and will look to place even more of a focus on the event in 2014-15. Head coach Dan Colella takes a closer look at the key personnel in the backstroke group for the coming year.
2014 Postseason Results:
Liza Bragg debuted at her first ACC Championship in strong fashion last February, dropping over six seconds in the 200-yard backstroke over the course of the season to finish 15th in the conference. She also set a school record and earned an NCAA provisionally qualifying mark in the event preliminaries, touching at 1:57.54. Classmate Jessie Sutherland earned a spot in the bonus final of the 100 backstroke a year ago and posted an NCAA ‘B’ cut at 54.61 as the leadoff swimmer on the Blue Devils’ 400 medley relay.
Kaz Takabayashi and Joey Maginnis both scored for the Duke men in the bonus final of the 200 backstroke at the 2014 conference meet, finishing 18th and 24th, respectively. Brad Cline placed 18th at the 200-yard distance and picked up an NCAA ‘B’ cut as well with a 1:45.00 clocking.
Sophomores Bragg and Sutherland both return ACC finals experience to the group. Colella says Sutherland in particular remained committed to her training during the off-season and has made great strides already since returning to campus.
Cline returns to lead the Duke men after posting the program’s fastest marks of the season last year in both the 100 and 200 backstroke. He will be joined by classmates Takabayashi and Maginnis, who Colella says has been working on his underwaters and the back half of his sprints to increase his closing speed.
Newcomers to Watch:
Freshman Maria Sheridan comes to Duke from nearby Charlotte, N.C., where she captured an individual championship in the 100 backstroke. She is expected to bring depth to the women’s backstroke group. Josh Furth was a New England Prep School 100 backstroke champion at the Hopkins School in Connecticut and will be a contributor in the 100 and the 200 for the Blue Devil men.
Coach Dan Colella:
“Liza continues to work harder and smarter. She’s really setting herself up to do some great things this year in the backstroke as well as the IMs. For the men, they were not events that we spent a lot of time focused on or training for. It’s going to be more of a priority in their training. I think that in itself will make a big difference from last year.”
College Swimming News courtesy of Duke Swimming & Diving.