Rutgers prepares for Texas Invitational, Big Al Open


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Photo by Jeffrey Gomez |

Following a second-place finish at home for the Frank Elm Invitational, the Rutgers swimming and diving team looks to continue its success in two separate events, the Texas Invitational and the Big Al Open. 

The Texas Invitational occurs on Nov. 29 through Dec. 2 at the Lee and Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center. Competing at the meet alongside the Scarlet Knights will be the host Texas, as well as Arizona, BYU, Harvard, Northern Arizona, Oklahoma Baptist, TCU, USC, UCLA, UNLV and Wisconsin.

After some notable performances at the Frank Elm Invitational last weekend, Rutgers looks to keep pushing past the competition and succeed during these final meets. Assistant coach Jon Maccoll has high hopes for the Texas Invitational and recognizes the team will be going against top-tier competition.

"The team and I are very excited for the opportunity to race this weekend,” Maccoll said. “Texas has one of the premier facilities in the world and the competition at the meet will be world-class, as well. Coming off the success of the Frank Elm Invitational, the team is confident that we can have even greater success at this meet as we work toward the Big Ten Championships."

After taking home the most points during the Frank Elm Invitational last weekend, junior Vera Koprivova will try to lead her team again in Texas. She finished in the top three of her three solo events, the 200-yard backstroke, 400-yard individual medley and the 100-yard backstroke, in first, second and third place respectively.

Koprivova, along with senior Larissa Neilan, sophomore Federica Greco and sophomore Clare Lawlor, set a new pool record at the Rutgers Aquatic Center for the 400-yard medley race. Their time of 3:40.47 eclipsed the previous record by a sliver, 3:40.77. 

For the Big Al Open at the DeNunzio Pool in Princeton, New Jersey, the Knights will be compete from Dec. 1 to Dec. 3. The rest of the field will consist of divers from the host of Princeton, as well as Brown, Villanova, Dartmouth, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Rider, William & Mary and Miami. 

Interim head coach Frederick Woodruff spoke on the importance of this meet and the skill that will be on display in Princeton. 

"We are very excited to be competing at the Big Al Open this weekend alongside the University of Miami, one of the top diving teams in the country,” Woodruff said. “It will be our divers' biggest test so far.”

In what has been a truly dominating season for senior and five-time Big Ten Diver of the Week award winner Addison Walkowiak, placing first and second in the three- and one-meter dives, respectively at the Frank Elm Invitational, the sky is the limit. But going up against some of the top diving teams in the country, Walkowiak will have to leave no room for error in order to place highly. 

Joining Walkowiak in the diving events will be junior Rachel Byrne. She qualified for the NCAA Zone Championships in the one- and three-meter dives as well as the platform dive. She is coming off of a third-place finish in the three-meter and a fifth-place finish on the platform.  

Diving won't be the only thing on display as there will be at least one swimmer competing in the longest race in the sport, the 1650-yard freestyle event. Sophomore Francesca Bertotto will be taking the reins for Rutgers. She won the same event at the Frank Elm Invitational over James Madison University senior Quinn MacMillan. 

These two events will be the final meets for the fall semester before starting again for the spring semester with a dual meet against Yale at the Rutgers Aquatic Center on Jan. 12.


For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.


Justin Bonhard

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