Break provides time for improvement
To the outsider, the 36-day layoff the Rutgers swimming and diving team takes from competition could be seen as a time to take a deep breath. But that is hardly the case, head coach Chuck Warner said.
Although the Scarlet Knights enjoy some time away from the pool, the period offers a prime opportunity for improvement.
"It's a very important training time and one of the keys to a successful season is what's going to happen here over the next … six weeks until we start the second semester," Warner said. "It's a good time to be a little more relaxed without the pressure of school and be able to train a little bit more intensely but primarily we're trying to keep on a very even, consistent basis."
Consistency has been RU's calling card to date. Seniors Cat Whetstone, Shayna Longacre, Jacquie Ward and Erin Saunders have led the club to a perfect 3-0 mark in dual meets.
The Knights finished second to defending Ivy League-champion Harvard in the Harvard Invitational.
RU's underclassmen also chipped in. Freshmen Brittney Kuras and Melanie Gaffey have posted multiple victories and the return of sophomore Michaela Nilsson should only add to the team's depth in relay events. Nilsson took first in the 100-yard backstroke and swam as part of the winning 200-yard freestyle relay team in her season debut Friday against Wagner.
"Even when people are in an off race, they're still turning in pretty good times," Longacre said. "It's good that no pressure's going on one swimmer."
Despite its success, the Knights continue to eye February's Big East Championships — the event to which they have built toward all fall. Four swimmers have yet to qualify for the event and their chances to do so will be limited. Only three tune-ups remain before the conference championship, starting with a trip to College Park, Md., Jan. 9 to square off versus ACC opponent Maryland.
"It's not a long ways off," Warner said. "I spent a lot of time looking at them yesterday (Saturday). They have a very good team. If we can win that dual meet that will make for an undefeated season, but they're going to be very difficult to beat."
Following their final dual meet, the Knights host the Swim World Conference Carnival before the divers take part in the Drexel Diving Invitational.