Rutgers secures 4 gold medals at ECAC Championships
The Rutgers swimming and diving team stayed in Piscataway this past weekend as it hosted the ECAC Championships at the Rutgers Aquatic Center.
The U.S. Naval Academy had an extremely impressive performance at the championships, coming in first place with 584.5 points, which is its third straight victory in the competition. The rest of the top five was rounded out by the University of Pennsylvania with 402 points, Bucknell with a score of 309, Marist College with 304 and Columbia with a mark of 284.
The Scarlet Knights finished ninth in a group of 24 squads with a final score of 198, in what was a solid performance for the team.
But this was not a meet Rutgers intended to win. The Knights used the meet as a way to gain experience in high-pressure settings and to lower the existing NCAA B standards in order to get more members of the team to compete at the NCAA Championships.
Rutgers did not race a single relay at the ECAC and did not have a full lineup in the individual events, with several key members of the team throughout the season not performing.
The most notable absence was senior diver Addison Walkowiak, who sat out this week in order to prepare for the NCAA Zone Championships next week. Walkowiak was one of the most valuable members of the team this season, and was certainly their best diver throughout the season.
Luckily for the Knights, the rest of the team stepped up in her absence. Jon Maccoll, head coach for swimming, had an interesting perspective on the importance of the ECAC for the team.
“The ECAC gave a lot of different things to a lot of different people,” Maccoll said. “With us being a Big Ten team, this is not our big championship meet. So our main goal was for some of our swimmers to lower their times for the NCAA Championships."
Rutgers claimed four gold medals at the event, three in the pool and one on the board. Junior Vera Koprivova won both the 100 and 200-yard backstroke, sophomore Francesca Bertotto tapped in first for the 500-yard freestyle and junior Marin Bloise had the highest score when diving off the 3-meter boards.
Koprivova hopes that she will get the nod next week to compete at the NCAA Championships, and she certainly improved her chances by bringing home two gold medals. Koprivova won the 100-yard backstroke on Saturday in 53.65 seconds and then went on to claim ECAC gold on Sunday in the 200-yard backstroke in 1:54.88, nearly four seconds ahead of the next fastest time.
Bertotto captured gold on Friday, touching the wall first in the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 4:46.10 in the finals, over six seconds ahead of the runner-up. Bertotto also awaits the national selections next week.
"The rest of the meet was really meant as a test. We tried a different practice regimen the past few weeks and we wanted to see how the girls responded and we were very happy with the results,” Maccoll said.
On the diving boards, Bloise took the gold on the 3-meter boards. The crown did not come easily though, as her final session was incredibly close between her, freshman teammate Lauren Boone and Marist’s Esabe Gervasio.
Bloise achieved a mark of 256.90 points, just ahead of Gervasio’s score of 256.30 and Boone’s 256.15.
“The selection process hasn’t started yet and that will begin next week, but we certainly feel good about the chances for some of our team,” Maccoll said. “I think that Vera (Koprivova), Francesca (Bertotto), and Sveva (Schiazzano) all have a good chance of making it. We would be shocked if Addy didn’t make it for diving but we’ll see next week. Hopefully we have as many Scarlet Knights in Columbus as possible.”
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