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Transfer accepts coach’s culture in first season

Following a successful freshman season at Marist College, sophomore swimmer Greta Leberfinger made the decision to return to New Jersey and transfer to the Rutgers swimming and diving team.

Leberfinger’s freshman campaign for Marist was not short on accolades. She earned MAAC Swimmer of the Week honors three times, set individual school records and won several events at the MAAC Conference Championships.

The success has followed her to Piscataway, where she has had an immediate impact for the Scarlet Knights.

She ultimately decided to transfer to Rutgers because she wanted a larger program that is more competitive and closer to home. Through the first half of the season, Leberfinger is happy with her decision.  

The Chatham, N.J., native originally opted for Marist because she looked to get away, she said.

“I guess I kind of went through my college process a little too fast, and I kind of overlooked Rutgers because it was close to home,” Leberfinger said.  “I wasn’t really looking at such big, intense swimming schools when I was looking at college the first time around.”

She adjusted smoothly to the change of schools, said head coach Phil Spiniello.

“She fits in very well with the team,” he said.  “She buys into my philosophy as a head coach, the program’s philosophy, embraces the hard work and is just a competitor and is here to make herself better and the program better.”

In the Knights’ most recent meet with Old Dominion and George Washington last weekend, Leberfinger won both the 100- and 200-meter breaststroke events. She was also part of the first-place medley relay team, swimming the breaststroke portion of the race for the Knights.

“I’m very excited with how I’ve been competing so far,” Leberfinger said. “My midseason times are faster than they were last year at this time, so that can only be good.”

Spiniello is also excited with the way Leberfinger has competed through the early part of the season.

“She has come in and embraced the hard work that this program does,” he said.  “The biggest thing about Greta is that she is a competitor. She gets herself ready to compete — not just in the meets but in practice — and that translates over into her performance at the meets.”

Spiniello was already familiar with Leberfinger’s abilities as a swimmer because of her success in high school. So he was not surprised by her immediate impact for the team this year, he said, and he expects her to continue to improve in her time with the Knights.

“She transferred to Rutgers with a purpose,” Spiniello said  “She’s a pretty driven woman, and we’re just following the plan that we have in place. If we keep doing that, she’ll be very successful here.”

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

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