Second season brings added familiarity

<p>Junior Jacquelyn Ward was consistently among Rutgers’ best
swimmers last season, when she finished fourth place in the
400-yard individual medley at the Big?East Championships.</p>

Junior Jacquelyn Ward was consistently among Rutgers’ best swimmers last season, when she finished fourth place in the 400-yard individual medley at the Big?East Championships.

Swimming in a highly competitive conference like the Big East can be an intimidating effort. Second-year head swimming coach Phil Spiniello likes to look at the challenge with a positive attitude, embracing the benefits that come with competing at the highest level.

“It’s great,” Spiniello said of the conference’s daunting task. “The competitiveness of the Big East drives us to do better. I expect to be competing to win every dual meet that we have on the schedule this year.”

For the Scarlet Knights to experience success this season, Spiniello relies on a roster filled with familiarity. A total of 12 upperclassmen return to compete for a team that placed seventh last season in the Big East Championships.

“I’m looking for my upperclassmen, my juniors and seniors, to step up and lead this team,” Spiniello said.

Senior swimmers Jacquelyn Ward, Trisha Averill and Brianne Lindblad look to lead the team this year in the pool.

Sophomore Chelsea Rolin will also help propel the Knights in conference play after posting an impressive fourth-place finish in the 1,650 freestyle at last year’s Big East Championships.

“These women came back to campus in shape and with a desire to get better,” Spiniello said. “I’m very excited.”

Spiniello’s second year at the helm features his first recruiting class as head coach.

Brogan Lee, the Section 5A Swimmer of the Year in her home state of Minnesota, looks to lead the freshman class along with Nicole Honey, Lindsay Gibson-Brokop and Caroline Carlisle.

Spiniello looks to the quartet to contribute to the team’s depth and help the Knights succeed this season.

“I’m looking for my first class to join the vision and philosophy of the program,” Spiniello said. “We just want them to work hard, have fun and enjoy being part of the family.”

With Spiniello’s first year as head coach in the books, the former Princeton assistant said his first year was an experience. Coaching Rutgers in his second season excites him, he said.

“You know, it was a great experience and I learned a lot,” Spiniello said. “I learned that these women have a desire to get better, and we are going to improve in our second year together in many areas of this program. I’m really excited for Year 2.”

The Knights begin the season with an intrasquad meet Oct. 7, at the Rutgers Aquatic Center. Their Big East season starts Oct. 28, when they face off against Connecticut, Georgetown and Villanova in Storrs, Conn.

Spiniello looks forward to what the season will bring and believes his team will be ready for February, when the Big East Championships roll around.

“We have some great meets to look forward to, and we know that when we show up in Pittsburgh in February for the Big East Championship meet that the other 10 teams will be ready to go, and we will be right there with them,” Spiniello said. “I want to compete to win.”

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