Rutgers dominates scrimmage, tunes up for Big East season
The Rutgers swimming and diving team enjoyed a successful opening weekend at the SWRC Invite, securing first place finishes in all four relay events. The Scarlet Knights also had individual swimmers and divers claim the top spot in 12 of the 14 individual events.
"I think the meet went really well for the first meet of the season because we had a lot of girls swim impressive times — some of the fastest they've ever swam before," senior co-captain Denise Letendre said. "We really see this meet as a training meet. We kind of try to swim through it and it's pretty painful, but a lot of girls were able to get up and still go fast even though this week of training's been pretty tough."
The Knights took advantage of a field that featured six club teams along with Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart and Southern Connecticut State.
Head coach Chuck Warner was pleased with his team's performance as they warm-up for next weekend's dual meet with conference rivals Connecticut and Villanova.
"We were pretty decent overall," Warner said. "If people are doing what they should be doing, they're going to be pretty tired, and they were pretty tired. But overall, we still performed at a reasonably good level."
Freshman Brittney Kuras led the way for RU with individual victories in the 100- and 200-yard freestyle as well as the 100-yard breaststroke and 200-yard individual medley. Fellow freshman Melanie Gaffey also impressed with a victory in the 50-yard freestyle, a second-place finish in the 100-yard freestyle and a third-place mark in the 200-yard freestyle. Kuras and Gaffey also contributed to the Knights' success in the relays.
For a RU team that features 11 freshmen, the meet served as a chance for the newcomers to get their feet wet.
"I think having a meet as laid back as this really helps because it gets the pressure out of the way," senior diver Erin Saunders said. "They haven't done this before. It's a whole new experience. It's a lot different than high school and club diving so it was definitely good to have this weekend."
Saunders and fellow seniors Cat Whetstone and Jackie Klein also thrived. Saunders won the one and three meter dives handily with scores of 298.30 and 272.95. Klein notched two victories in the 100- and 200-yard butterfly while Whetstone's time of 2:03.21 was good enough to give her first place in the 200-yard backstroke.
Sophomores Brianne Lindblad and Jackie Ward chipped in with victories in the 100-yard backstroke and 400-yard individual medley, respectively.
RU continues to train this week before heading to Storrs, Conn., Friday to open the Big East season against Connecticut and Villanova, both of whom feature impressive freshmen classes, Warner said.