Knights’ long layoff ends with weekend outing
Because of Hurricane Sandy, it has been three weeks since the Rutgers swimming and diving team competed against other schools. The hurricane caused the Scarlet Knights to cancel a Nov. 2. quad meet against Big East opponents.
But the Knights finally return to the pool for competition today, when they host the Frank Elm Invite through Sunday at the Rutgers Aquatic Center.
The Invitational, named after legendary Rutgers coach Frank Elm, features 12 teams. The Knights welcome the men’s and women’s teams of Drexel, Johns Hopkins, St. Peter’s, Villanova and Westchester. Columbia also brings its women’s team to compete.
Head coach Phil Spiniello is excited to host the Invitational and thinks the high level of competition provides a good test for the team.
“They’re all really solid programs, so we’re looking for a great competition,” he said.
Lasting three days, it is the longest competition for the Knights this season until they compete in the Big East Championships in late February. The competition gives them the opportunity to prepare for the weekend as if it were the conference championships, Spiniello said.
“This is modeling the Big East Championship format, so that’s why we schedule this meet,” he said. “It helps us prepare for the end of the season and what that meet’s going to be like. That’s a four-day competition, so having this three-day competition is great practice.”
Senior diving captain Katie Kearney echoes Spiniello’s thoughts on using this weekend to prepare for the rigors of the Big East Championships. The Frank Elm Invite is the first competition this season for the tower dive, which gives the team the opportunity to practice the dive in a competition setting.
“We just want to get into the mindset of Big East where we have multiple days including tower,” Kearney said. “We’re just expecting to really learn about ourselves and our style of diving over three days.”
The Knights have not competed since Oct. 26, when they defeated Wagner, 174-117, in a dual meet. The team has done its best to keep fresh in the long time between competitions, Spiniello said. He expects the group to be ready.
“We’ve been practicing as usual,” Spiniello said. “We’ve had a couple mock meet situations in practice to get us in the swing of things. We haven’t competed since Oct. 26, so we may be a little rusty coming out, but I’m not anticipating that because we’ve prepared appropriately for Friday morning.”
Spiniello has high expectations this weekend for the team. He wants to see season-best times from his swimmers and for his divers to continue their early dominant season, he said.
“We just take one session at a time, one swim at a time, one dive at a time and focus on being in the moment and being great at the task at hand without looking too far forward,” Spiniello said.
For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow Mike Morton on Twitter @MortonTargum.