RU?targets experience at Invite

Diver Katie Kearney knows the Rutgers swimming and diving team’s SWRC Invitational is a crucial starting point for her and her teammates. While the meet serves as the last competition before entering the gauntlet of the Big East Conference, the junior believes the team is ready for the season ahead.

“We have been looking pretty good and are excited to get into a real meet this weekend,” Kearney said. “We really expect to get the nerves out.”

The Scarlet Knights look to do that Saturday, when they host Southern Connecticut and St. Peter’s along with four club teams.

Second-year head coach Phil Spiniello knows the team continues to work hard. He wants to see it translate to success this weekend and beyond.

“I’m excited to see our hard work of the preseason and start seeing the work since the beginning of September pay off,” Spiniello said. “This weekend will be a good indication of what we need to work on to be ready for our first Big East competition.”

The invitational provides the swimmers and divers with their first real competition of the season, but it does not count toward their times and records.

The Knights come off last weekend’s alumni meet, when they hosted former Rutgers athletes in a series of competitions and races to help prepare them for the season.

“The alumni meet was a lot of fun,” Spiniello said. “It was great to see the alumni come back and interact with the current team and have some fun along with us getting another opportunity to get ready for our season.”

Kearney enjoyed catching up with former Knights at the event, she said.

“I thought it was a lot of fun to be back with some of my old teammates,” Kearney said. “Just seeing a bunch of alumni come back and bounce on the boards was a lot of fun. We had a great time.”

While the Knights had fun with the events from the alumni meet and homecoming, the team still works hard to improve.

They finished 1-2 last season in Big East competition and placed seventh in February at the Big East Championships.

“We have been fine-tuning some things and working on relay starts along with racing strategies,” Spiniello said. “We’re getting there.”

Along with the hard work of improving from last season, Kearney saw a change from last year and believes the team is prepared to experience success this season in the pool.

“I’m very excited,” said Kearney. “The team is coming together great. The coaches are bringing a lot of enthusiasm. It’s going to be a great year.”

The team takes on Connecticut, Villanova and Georgetown next weekend at the Connecticut Invitational.

“This week we have been getting a lot of reps off for diving and our more difficult dives,” Kearney said. “Hopefully they will come together in this meet and beyond.”

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