Nov. 20, 2008

DURHAM, N.C. – The Duke men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams will travel to Columbia, S.C., for the Gamecock Invitational, a three-day competition hosted by the University of South Carolina which kicks off Nov. 20 and runs through Nov. 22 at the Carolina Natatorium at the Sol Blatt Physical Education Complex.


A total of seven teams will compete in the meet, with the preliminary events set for 10 a.m. and the finals at 6 p.m. on each of the three days. Diving preliminaries will begin at noon on Friday and Saturday, with finals running at the same time as swimming each evening.


The invitational is the first meet of the season that will resemble the format the squads can expect at the ACC Championships and NCAA Championships later this season, as it will feature the prelim-finals format not seen in dual meets.


“The way we’ve been referring to it has been a dress rehearsal for those championship meets,” said head coach Dan Colella. “We have definitely prepared for this a little more so physically and mentally than we might a dual meet – it’s just a different approach. It will be a pretty grueling three days as we have a lot of athletes who will be doing a lot of competing, but it’s a great trial run for what they will see later in the season.”


Joining the Blue Devils in competition will be South Carolina, the College of Charleston, East Carolina, North Carolina, and Syracuse – as well as the men’s squad from Lenoir Rhyne College.


This year marks the first installment of the Gamecock Invitational, having been switched to USC’s campus from North Carolina’s, where it was the Nike Cup Invitational in previous years. The host Tar Heels took the title on the women’s side last year, while Virginia Tech took the men’s.


Duke has been out of action since Nov. 1 when it competed in dual meets against both Maryland and N.C. State., with the women defeating both squads and the men edging Maryland and losing to the Wolfpack in the two-day affair.


“It was nice to have had time off because the last few years it seemed we had meets back to back to back that led into our fall invite, so it’s nice to have weekends off to be fresh,” said Colella. “This may have been the best fall of dual meet competitions that we’ve had thus far. I think the kids have really stepped it up from previous years in terms of their competitiveness and their enthusiasm, and I think it’s just coming from a result of having the confidence to know they can compete with the other ACC teams, which is what we’ve been building towards.”

Results will be posted after each session on the Gamecock Invitational page, which can be accessed at Live stats are also available there.