Rutgers reunites with old conference opponents
In its heyday, the Big East was a conference to be reckoned with.
But due to unforeseen circumstances, it collapsed two years ago and Rutgers jumped ship for the Big Ten.
Now that the Scarlet Knights are members of the Big Ten, they still maintain rivalries with former Big East comrades Villanova (2-2), Georgetown (0-2) and Seton Hall (6-0) every swimming and diving season in a quad meet at Sonny Werblin Aquatic Center.
Villanova (2-2) comes off a season that saw it win the Big East title, but it has struggled to get back on track so far this season.
“This meet has been going on for quite a few years, so I think that these are some really good Big East schools,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “We are prepared for that. We know what to expect. We are going to get good competition this week, but we have to swim and dive at a high level in order to win these meets.”
The Knights enter the meet off a dominating performance from last week where they beat Wagner, 168-112, in a dual meet.
Senior captain Greta Leberfinger finished first in the 200-meter breaststroke, but evidently, even that finish doesn’t satisfy her.
“I know that the time was good for me at this point, but I can always do better,” Leberfinger said. “Yeah, it isn’t my best time, so I know I can always go faster.”
Fellow captain, Brogan Lee felt the team did well for the first meet of the season including herself.
“I thought the team as a whole really stepped up, and I’m really proud of how everyone finished,” Lee said. “I was happy with my times. I thought I started the season off pretty well and I’m looking to improve on that for the rest of the season.”
Rutgers has been able to thrive in the relays to this point in the season and looks to keep improving, but the incentive behind it is that the swimmers know they must perform or they can easily be switched out.
“Relays are a big part of the meet and have been a priority in the program that we’ve established,” Spiniello said. “Being on relay is a privilege, and the women on the team understand that. When it comes to the relays, we are always going to try and win the race.”
Overall, Spiniello was pleased with his team’s performance, but he still sees room for improvement entering this meet.
“I think that this early in the season there are something’s we can work on: the details, the starts, the turns, the finishes that we’ve been focusing on this week in practice,” he said. “It’s a priority for us going against the three schools this weekend.”
Unlike last weekend when the meet lasted one day, this weekend’s quad meet will span over a two-day period, which affects the lineup that Spiniello can derive.
“It affects the way you right the lineup and what events you put people in,” Spiniello said. “Especially over a two-day period, you have to take in consideration when they raced.”
Despite facing three teams as opposed to one, Leberfinger said that it doesn’t faze the Knights.
“We go into every meet with the same mentality: wanting to go fast, do our best and win,” Leberfinger said. “I think we are setting ourselves up for that. The teams have a lot of good swimmers and it’s going to be tough, but we are well prepared for the meet.”
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