April 22, 2019 | 52° F

Knights take care of nonconference Wagner

Photo by Jovelle Abbey Tamayo |

Junior captain Kirsten'Fontana won the 200-yard backstroke against Wagner, marking her first regular season win after a knee surgery.

The Rutgers swimming team needed a dominant victory to restore its confidence after beginning the season with a losing record. The team found that confidence-boosting win Friday, as it defeated Wagner, 179-100, at the RU Aquatic Center.

The Scarlet Knights (2-3, 1-3) won a total of 12 events in the decisive victory. Head coach Phil Spiniello deviated from his usual lineups a bit, but the tinkering seems to have worked, as several Knights were able to capture their first victories of the season.

Junior Michelle Berman earned her first victory of the year in the grueling 1,000-yard freestyle by finishing in 10:35.51, almost five seconds ahead of her nearest competitor.

Sophomore Melanie Gaffey, who won the 200-yard freestyle against Wagner last season, continued her success against the Seahawks with a victory in the 50-yard freestyle.

Perhaps the most emotional of victory of the meet for the Knights came when redshirt junior captain Kirsten Fontana took first in the 200-yard backstroke for her first regular season victory since coming off of knee surgery.

"Kirsten is someone who all of the girls on the team look up to," said sophomore Taylor Curado. "She, along with our other captain, Jen Betz, has done a great job leading our team in the direction that we need to go in order to accomplish what we want at the end of the season."

There were also some familiar faces that grabbed victories in the meet, like junior Jacquelyn Ward who had three wins. Ward won the 200-yard butterfly and the 500-yard freestyle, posting season-best times of 2:05.71 and 5:08.21, respectively, while also touching the wall first in the 200 freestyle.

Curado, who won the 100-yard butterfly at every meet this season, took a break from her signature event and instead placed first in the 100-yard freestyle with a time of 54.67.

The relay team of Curado, Ward, junior Brianne Lindblad and freshman Mary Moser also continued its success with a victory in the 200-yard medley relay.

The Knights also got a huge contribution from their freshmen. Freshman Emilie Kaufmann finished the 100-yard backstroke in 58.87 and the 200-yard breaststroke in 2:23.15, each good for a first place finish. Fellow freshman Trisha Averill also added a win in the 100-yard breaststroke with her season-best time of 1:05.92.

"The younger girls on our team have stepped up this year and are a vital part of our team," Curado said. "The way that they have been performing in practice and at meets shows that we have a very bright future ahead of us."

The diving team did not compete against Wagner, but travelled to Princeton for the Big Al Open, where they faced Harvard, Penn, Drexel, Florida and host Princeton.

Senior captain Jen Betz bested 26 other divers to take first place in the one-meter dive with a score of 272.20. Freshman Nicole Scott had a second place finish in the platform diving event while also taking fourth in the one-meter dive.

The Knights get a break from competition for the holiday season before their training trip on Dec. 30 to Indian Shores, Fla.

The Knights do not see live action again until they travel to Maryland on Jan. 8, so they must continue to train and improve to avoid any untimely rust.

Matt Canvisser

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