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RU?moves on from season’s first loss

The Rutgers swimming and diving team faces Fordham and Rider tomorrow to continue a string of home meets at the RU Aquatic Center.

The Scarlet Knights look to bounce back after suffering their first defeat of the season Jan. 19 at the hands of James Madison.

Despite being edged by the Dukes, the Scarlet Knights finished last week with excitement and energy, said senior co-captain Taylor Zafrir.

“We haven’t backed off at all at practice this week,” Zafir said. “We came in Monday morning and had a great attitude and stuck by each other. We need to keep pushing forward, and I think that will carry over to this weekend.”

The team tries to further its successes from last week as it moves toward the Big East Championships.

“I want to keep the momentum rolling,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “I want to take the momentum we had from those meets and continue to get better.”

As far as the Knights’ competition this weekend, the focus is on Fordham.

“Fordham is a very good squad,” Spiniello said. “I think they have a chance of winning the Atlantic 10 Conference this year, so we’re going to have to swim at a high level to beat Fordham this weekend.”

Fordham enters the weekend at 7-3, with most recent wins against Iona and La Salle.

The Rams feature senior Brienne Ryan, who earned first place last weekend in three individual events in two meets.

Rutgers received a similar performance from freshman Joanna Wu during the team’s last two meets.

Wu earned Big East Swimmer of the Week honors after securing three top finishes of her own.

“Joanna is a very hardworking, talented young athlete,” Spiniello said. “She plays a big role in our program in backstrokes and freestyle, and you can look for her to help out in our relays going forward.”

Rutgers’ other opponent this weekend, Rider, began the year with an 0-6 record but earned victories in the team’s last two meets.

The most recent Broncos victory came Jan. 19 against Saint Peter’s.

The Knights look forward to the conference championships in less than five weeks, but use every meet to prepare themselves for the culmination of the season in Indianapolis.

“We want to show up to every one of these meets like we are going to be at Big East,” said senior co-captain Katie Kearney. “The excitement, the energy is definitely going to pick up.”

Kearney is part of a Rutgers diving squad that has completed two sweeps in the 1-meter dive during the last four meets.

“Despite winning, sweeping the boards, we haven’t changed our training,” Kearney said. “We’re doing the same things we always have. Just like the swimmers and the team as a whole, we’re going to keep our energy level up and dive just like we plan to dive at Big East.”

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