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Rookie contributes in first season on campus

<p>Freshman Joanna Wu will participate in the three events from Wednesday to Saturday in the Big East Championships.</p>

Freshman Joanna Wu will participate in the three events from Wednesday to Saturday in the Big East Championships.

The Rutgers swimming and diving team finished the regular season with a 9-2 record with wins against two Big East schools.

The final home meet was on Senior Day for the Scarlet Knights’ two captains. But that would not stop freshman Joanna Wu from taking her share of the spotlight.

The Kent, Wash., native arrived at Rutgers this year after swimming for four years at Kent-Meridian (Wash.) High School. She qualified for the Washington state championships each season and was named the team’s MVP three times.

Wu has displayed her value to the Knights all season.

She grabbed a victory in the 200-meter freestyle in the Big East quad meet Feb. 9, where she outswam athletes from Villanova, Georgetown and Seton Hall.

Her weekend did not stop there, as she took the top spot in the Knights’ sweep of the 100-meter backstroke and competed in the 200-meter relay, where Rutgers secured a victory.

Wu’s immediate success at the collegiate level can be attributed to years of prior experience in the pool.

She swam at an athletic club for 10 years and qualified for the Olympic trials last summer in the 100-meter backstroke.

As one of five freshmen on the Knights this year, Wu has been the most productive.

She has found herself on winning relay squads throughout the season.

Against Fordham on Jan. 26, she helped Rutgers take the win in the 200-meter medley event.

Wu has taken the spotlight on various occasions this season with her performances in individual swimming events.

The standout meet of her short career came Jan. 19 against Richmond and Central Connecticut State.

In that competition, Wu took home three top individual performances and was later named Big East Athlete of the Week.

Head coach Phil Spiniello thinks Wu can hold her own at the Big East Championships, as she competes against the best swimmers in the conference in events she has had success in throughout the year.

Spiniello said the goal for Wu at the Big East Championships is to place in the top eight in all three individual events she will compete in.

Wu will partake in the 100-meter and 200-meter backstroke events and the 200-meter freestyle swim.

“It’s great to see her buy into this program and do what’s asked of her and really just take her swimming to the next level,” Spiniello said. “I’m excited to see what comes of that this week.”

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