Final exhibition meet yields 10 first-place results
The Rutgers swimming and diving team came out of the pool with some confidence this weekend, as it posted 10 first-place finishes at the Sonny Werblin Invitational at the RU Aquatic Center.
The Scarlet Knights faced off against Southern Connecticut and club teams — the Scarlet Athletic Club, the Jersey Wahoos and Somerset Valley YMCA — in their final exhibition meet before the start of Big East competition.
It was a record-setting day for Rutgers diving, as senior captain Jen Betz broke the school record in the three-meter dive with a score of 313.80. Freshman Nicole Scott also took first in the one-meter dive with 284.32 points and finished second only to Betz's record score in the three-meter competition.
"Jen's performance set the tone for the divers for the season," said head coach Phil Spiniello. "She's a leader by example. Every day she's working hard with a smile on her face."
Junior Jacquelyn Ward, who won four races in the breaststroke and individual medley, led the swimmers.
Ward took first place in the 100-yard and 200-yard breast with times of 1:08.01 and 2:24.31, respectively. She then went on to finish first in the 200-yard medley with a time of 2:08.05 and 400-yard medley, where she touched the wall in 4:32.23 — five seconds ahead of her closest competitor.
Junior Brianne Lindblad added two more first-place finishes for the Knights as she clocked in times of 25.06 in the 50-yard freestyle and 2:08.08 in the 200-yard backstroke, while sophomore Taylor Curado chipped in with her own victory in the 100-yard butterfly with a time of 59.88.
A bright spot for Spiniello was the performance of the team's freshmen, whom he said displayed a "good sign for things to come."
Rookie Emilie Kaufmann finished the 100-yard freestyle in 54.36, good for first place, while fellow freshman Courtney Sepich placed first in the 100-yard backstroke with a time of 1:00.23.
"The whole team did well this weekend," Spiniello said. "There were good swims from everybody. It was their first real competition against other teams. We saw some good starting points but also some good things to improve on. We need to work on starts, turns and paying attention to detail."
Rutgers' exhibition season has now drawn to a close and the start of Big East competition looms on the horizon. As they move into conference play, the Knights will undoubtedly rely on the leadership of their captains: Betz and senior Kirsten Fontana.
Rutgers kicks off the season next weekend against Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova at the RU Aquatic Center. The meet will not only be the first of the regular season, but the first of Spiniello's career as a head coach.
"I'm very excited," Spiniello said. "We've put in a lot of hard work in these past seven weeks in practice, now the entire team needs to step up."
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