March 22, 2019 | 48° F

Knights finish first half at Princeton’s Invite

Photo by Jovelle Abbey Tamayo |

Senior swimmer Trisha Averill was part of the Knights’ 200-yard medley relay team that took first place in a tri-meet sweep against Texas Christian and?Seton?Hall the last time she was in the pool. She won Big East Swimmer of the Week honors earlier this season.

For the Rutgers swimming and diving team, today marks the half-way point for an undefeated program. Head coach Phil Spiniello is excited not only for this weekend’s meet at Princeton, but for the rest of the season going forward.

“The team is looking good and they’re excited,” Spiniello said. “The energy level is high and we are ready for our mid-season invites.”

The invites begin today, when the Knights compete in the Big Al Open on Princeton’s campus.

For the swimmers, it is the first time in three weeks they will compete. Their last action came Nov. 12, when they took down Texas Christian and Seton Hall in a tri-meet to earn their fifth and sixth victories of the season.

The divers travel to Princeton after participating in the Galbraith Invitational, held at the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center. The success of both groups has Spiniello looking forward to seeing them hit the water.

The former assistant at Princeton sees the weekend as an opportunity for his program to get experience before it enters the Big East Championships later in the season.

“This is a great practice to what the Big East is going to be like,” Spiniello said. “Our expectations are to swim and dive to our full potential the rest of the way.”

The meet, which concludes Sunday, features fellow Big East member Villanova along with host Princeton, Brown, Fordham, James Madison and Rider.

The long layoff has senior swimmer Trisha Averill excited to get back into the pool and compete.

“It was nice to step aside from school to mentally prepare and seeing their families,” Averill said. “But coming back we feel rejuvenated. You can tell that everyone stayed in real good shape and we are getting stronger in the water. We look good.”

Spiniello also believes the break was essential for his team to continue performing well this season.

“It was good for them to go home and regroup,” Spiniello said. “It was good for them to get focused and get ready for this upcoming meet in Princeton.”

Averill, along with senior swimmer Jacquelyn Ward, looks to pace the Knights during the three-day event. Ward took first place in both the 200- and 400-yard individual medleys the last time the Knights competed and looks to build on her strong first half.

Sophomore diver Nicole Scott enters the weekend with a first-place finish in the 3-meter dive at the Galbraith Invitational. Junior teammate Carissa Santora followed her in second place.

After this weekend’s Invitational, the Knights conclude the first half of the season and open up against Bucknell in January, when they return to action.

In all, there are four meets remaining before the Big East Championships, something that has Averill motivated about the opportunity the team has going forward.

“We are unstoppable right now,” Averill said. “We’re really excited.”

By Bradly Derechailo

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