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RU rebounds from first loss,

<p>Head coach Phil?Spiniello said the team’s diving unit, winner of both the 1- and 3-meter dives this weekend, continues to improve.</p>

Head coach Phil?Spiniello said the team’s diving unit, winner of both the 1- and 3-meter dives this weekend, continues to improve.

The Rutgers swimming and diving team earned two victories Saturday at the RU Aquatic Center, defeating Fordham and Rider in a tri-meet.

The Scarlet Knights beat Rider, 219-75, and Fordham, 162-132, a team head coach Phil Spiniello said can win the Atlantic 10 Conference this season.

The team bounced back quickly after suffering its first loss of the season Jan. 19 against James Madison.

“To turn it around this week and come back winning the way we always have been is very important,” said senior co-captain Kate Kearney. “It’s a very good indicator of our mental status and what we want to do at the end of February at Big East.”

The Knights started the day with a win in the 200-meter medley relay.

A squad consisting of freshman Joanna Wu, sophomore Greta Leberfinger and juniors Brittany Guinee and Mary Moser finished at 1:46.00.

The relay unit has been together all season and provides consistent results.

Senior co-captain Taylor Zafir kept the momentum in the Knights’ favor in the next event, earning a first-place finish in the 1,000-meter freestyle at 10:26.59.

“I’m incredibly happy, that’s my best time,” Zafir said. “I really didn’t expect to swim that event at all this year, but it kind of turned out to be that I’m swimming in it in a lot of meets and each time I swim it, I get better and better.”

Zafir continues to break her own personal records in the event this season as she competes in freestyle more prominently.

“She’s filled the role for us with [junior] Chelsea Rolin recovering from a concussion, and she’s done a brilliant job of doing that.” Spiniello said.

Zafir also finished the day by taking first in the 400-meter individual medley.

“The 1,000 [freestyle] definitely gave me confidence going into the 400 [individual medley], so I was really happy with it,” she said.

Moser earned a pair of first-place finishes, winning the 50- and 200-meter freestyles.

Leberfinger followed up her relay performance by taking first in both the 100-meter breaststroke and 200-meter breaststroke.

“Both of them put the times up that they did [Saturday] with the training they’ve done,” Spiniello said. “It just shows that they’re both setting themselves up for a great Big East Championship meet next month.”

Coming off a standout performance in the Knights’ last meet, Wu placed second in the backstroke at 56.27 seconds. She also finished with a time of 5:00.36 in the 500-meter freestyle.

In diving, the Knights swept the 1-meter event as senior co-captain Katie Kearney led with a score of 271.20 in six dives.

The Knights have swept the event in three of the last five meets.

“For the past meets, being able to stick to our dives and performance at a very consistent level is a very good indicator that we’ll do the same at Big East,” Kearney said.

Rutgers took the 3-meter event as junior Nicole Scott took first at 303.10. Sophomore Nicole Honey finished with a score of 300.65 and junior Olivia Harry at 217.50.

“The diving has been phenomenal, and it’s only getting better throughout the year,” Spiniello said. “It’s exciting to see their hard work paying off.”

Rutgers returns to action Feb. 8, when it hosts Georgetown, Seton Hall and Villanova.

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