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RU plans to repeat standard in championships

<p>Senior Taylor Zafir enters the Big East Championships hoping for a top-eight finish in the 400-meter individual medley event. She has won the event in her final two regular season meets.</p>

Senior Taylor Zafir enters the Big East Championships hoping for a top-eight finish in the 400-meter individual medley event. She has won the event in her final two regular season meets.

The Rutgers swimming and diving team travels to Indianapolis tomorrow to compete in the Big East Championships.

The meet is the most important competition of the season for the Scarlet Knights and has been on the minds of coaches and athletes throughout the year.

Every competition during the regular season is spent attempting to qualify or improve seeding times for the meet.

These championships can potentially define careers.

For senior co-captain Taylor Zafir, the Big East Championships would be her final collegiate competition, barring qualification for the NCAA Championships.

Rutgers arrives at the four-day event after a successful conference matchup Feb. 9 in which it defeated Georgetown and Seton Hall.

Overall, the Knights finished the regular season with a 9-2 record and have defeated four of their last five opponents.

Zafir enters with victories in the 400-meter individual medley event in the last two meets.

Head coach Phil Spiniello said Zafir’s goal is to place in the top eight in the event, where she has consistently finished at the conference championships in her career.

Junior Olivia Harry qualified this season in her first year of diving in competition.

While Harry said she is happy just to be at the event, there is an opportunity for her to make a mark in the standings.

Harry took a top-three finish in the 3-meter event for the second time this season Jan. 26 against Fordham and Rider.

She nearly claimed a top-three spot in the Big East quad meet when she placed fifth in the 1-meter dive.

The Knights’ diving squad has been consistent as a whole this season and never failed to finish in the top three of any event.

Senior co-captain Kate Kearney is among those travelling to the Big East Championships for the unit.

She has managed to provide leadership and find consistent results on the boards after undergoing shoulder surgery in the offseason.

Another swimmer looking to make an impact in the Big East Championships for the first time is freshman Joanna Wu.

Wu has racked up several first-place finishes in the backstroke, freestyle and relay events.

She proved her ability to excel against conference opponents by taking first in the 200-meter freestyle and 100-meter backstroke at the Big East quad meet.

The quad meet gave Rutgers a chance to compete on a date closer to the Big East Championships than the schedule would normally allow.

The Knights took advantage, with their only defeat coming to Villanova — a top-five school in the conference — by a mere six points in Feb. 9’s quad meet.

For the athletes that qualified for the Big East Championships, the meet is a chance to extend their season and potentially grab a spot at the NCAA Championships in late March.

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