July 21, 2019 | 83° F

Kesses set for final laps as Knight

Four more years.

Normally a phrase reserved for presidential campaign rallies, it is also the timetable facing senior Kasey Kesses of the Rutgers swimming and diving team and her return to the U.S. Olympic Trials.

Kesses, along with juniors Shayna Longacre and Catherine Whetstone and freshmen Megan Caylor, Brianne Lindblad and Taylor Zafir, swam at the trials this summer but came up short of an Olympic spot.

"I didn't swim as fast as I wanted to, but it was a really great experience to get under your belt," Kesses said. "It was a lot of competition at the highest level of swimming, and with us going into the Big East [Championships] it was a good experience to be at that level and see what it's like."

The Big East Championships are the immediate focus for Kesses, who will have her Olympic trials experience to draw upon when she heads to Indianapolis in just over a week.

"I think anytime you go to something, a new environment, you're out of your comfort zone and it makes it tough to compete well," head coach Chuck Warner said. "Now that she's been [to the Olympic trials] it's going to make it much easier to go back and compete well there. It also takes the Big East Championships and puts that on a little bit less of a stage."

But it is a stage that Kesses is used to.

She qualified for a number of races in the Big East Championships her freshman and sophomore years before she broke through last season and won the 100-yard butterfly.

"She's really improved tremendously," Warner said. "Her freshman year, she was a contributor, but not a very big contributor. . . And then last year, her junior year, she won the 100 butterfly, she was a finalist in the 50 freestyle and she was a finalist in the 100 freestyle."

Kesses continued her improvement coming off her Big East Championship and began the season by winning the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly in each of the first three meets. She was rewarded by being named the Big East Swimming and Diving Athlete of the Week after a November tri-meet with Connecticut and Villanova.

Approaching the Big East Championships, Kesses is hoping to continue her trend.

"I want to improve my times and help the team out as much as I can," Kesses said.

Warner is hoping Kesses contributes to the team's relay success, something she has done all year long as a part of 10 first place finishes in the 200-yard freestyle and medley relays and the 400-yard medley.

"She can be so good that she can help our relay get through to the NCAA Championships, which would mean having three other girls or more there as well," Warner said.

Kesses may be facing great expectations, but the experience she has gained from her Big East success, the NCAA Championships and Olympic trials ease the pressure just as much as her success has added to it.

"There is pressure, but I just don't think about that," Kesses said. "It's me and the pool and it's not anything else."

Steven Miller

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