Early wins provide momentum
Following a dominant performance this weekend, the Rutgers swimming and diving team finds itself right where it expected to be.
The Scarlet Knights (4-0) recorded several season-best times Friday and Saturday at the home quad meet, where they defeated longtime rival Villanova.
But head coach Phil Spiniello remains levelheaded despite the strong start.
“I think our expectations for this point in the season have been met, but we still have a long way to go,” Spiniello said. “We’re laying the foundation the first three months of the season … but we have a lot of season left and a lot of expectations and goals to be met.”
The Knights started the season with aspirations of getting into swimming shape. They produced a strong showing Oct. 19 at the Sonny Werblin Invite to finish with several top-five finishes.
Rutgers continued full-force training with intense practices every day.
The Knights competed in their first dual meet Oct. 25, winning 12 of 16 events to defeat Wagner handily.
Now Rutgers is slowly entering the tapering phase of the season.
The fierce training will become progressively less intense, allowing the swimmers time for their bodies to recover. The results are significant time drops as the stage is where the swimmers expect to reach their maximum times.
While the Knights do not expect to be at their very best until the AAC Championships in February, senior captain Allyson Perrotti believes the Frank Elm Invite on Nov. 22 will see strong results.
“We’re coming down a lot, not as much as we will be for AAC, but more than we would for other meets,” Perrotti said. “So I think it won’t be our best times, but it will definitely be season-best, so it should set us up in good position for the AAC.”
One Knight who already reached top form this season is senior diver Nicole Scott. Scott broke a six-year-old school record in the 3-meter dive and remains undefeated this season.
The Toronto native spends her practices normally working on progression in harder dives. Before meets, the Knights usually go through each of their dives three times on each board to prepare.
Scott credits head diving coach Fred Woodruff for part of her success.
“Fred’s a really great coach,” Scott said. “Because there’s only three of us this year, it’s really easy and we have been able to work a lot on the specific details of our dives. And after each dive, he gives us feedback on how to improve it.”
Despite strong results for the Knights so far, the ultimate goal is to succeed in the AAC Championships. Rutgers finished fifth last season at the Big East Championships and wants to improve on a season with several school records broken.
But the conferences shift does not mean a drop in talent. Defending Big East champion Louisville followed the Knights into the AAC, while Southern Methodist ranks among the nation’s top 25, according to CollegeSwimming.com.
The Knights’ goal is to reach that level of success.
“One of our program’s goals is to rank nationally,” Spiniello said. “So to be able to swim and dive against that level of competition, we’re absolutely motivated.”