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Tougher foes await RU in second leg of season

<p>Junior Mary Moser was part of a relay Saturday against Old Dominion and George Washington that finished first with a time of 1:45.20.</p>

Junior Mary Moser was part of a relay Saturday against Old Dominion and George Washington that finished first with a time of 1:45.20.

With the conclusion of Saturday’s meet against Old Dominion and George Washington, the first half of the season and fall semester schedule also came to an end for the Rutgers swimming and diving team.

The Scarlet Knights are out of action until Jan. 18, when they face off with Richmond and Central Connecticut State, and then James Madison the following day.

But the Knights will not rest much during the long layoff. Following a short break for finals and the holidays, the team returns to Rutgers to continue training for the second half of the season.

The Knights will also take a trip to Puerto Rico to train for a week following the holidays.

“We’re going to be doing a lot of training,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “We’re going to continue to focus on details of our swimming so that when we race in the second half of the season, the details of our swimming and diving are going to come out naturally. We’re just going to put a lot of time in on continuing to lay the foundation for what needs to be done in the second half.”

The first half of the season was a success for the Knights, as they improved to 3-0 last weekend with victories against Old Dominion and George Washington.

The first semester schedule also saw Rutgers collect a win against Wagner, as well as earn a first-place finish in the Sonny Werblin Invitational. The Knights also finished with a second-place finish at the Frank Elm Invitational, falling behind fellow Big East program Villanova.

Spiniello is satisfied with the team’s performance to date, he said.

“We’re continuing to get faster at every meet and from a swimming standpoint, that’s what I’m looking for as a coach,” he said.

Some of the highlights of the season include junior Nicole Scott breaking her own record on the platform dive at the Frank Elm Invite and freshman Joanna Wu breaking two minutes in the 200-meter backstroke, Spiniello said. Six swimmers have already broken lifetime-best swims this season.

“There’s been a lot of signs in the first semester that we’re doing what we need to do take care of business and be successful in the second semester,” Spiniello said.

Major tournaments highlight the second half of Rutgers’ season. The Big East Championships, which takes place Feb. 27 to March 2, is the marquee event. The Knights close out the season with the Zone Diving Championships and the NCAA Championships.

“We have a bunch of dual meets leading up to the Big East Championships meet that are scheduled purposefully to get us ready,” Spiniello said.

He also said the goal of the second half of the season is a simple: finish better than Rutgers did last year at the Big East Championships, where it finished eighth out of 11 teams. The success of the first half of the season is important in reaching that goal, Spiniello said.

“Like I’ve always said, both swimming and diving works laying the foundation in the first semester to reach our goals in the second semester,” he said.

For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow Mike Morton on Twitter @MortonTargum.

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