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RU returns to pool with experience

<p>Sophomore backstroke swimmer Joanna Wu returns for the Knights. She will compete in the 400-meter medley relay in which all members returned.</p>

Sophomore backstroke swimmer Joanna Wu returns for the Knights. She will compete in the 400-meter medley relay in which all members returned.

After a season when the Rutgers swimming and diving made some history, the team now faces high expectations in its 2013-2014 campaign.

The Scarlet Knights return 14 letterwinners from last season, including the entire 400-meter medley relay team.

That unit consists of sophomore Joanna Wu, junior Greta Leberfinger and seniors Brittany Guinee and Mary Moser.

Those four set a school record in the event last season with 3:40.52.

Their eyes are now set on a return to the NCAA Championships.

“We are really looking to build on the foundation of last season,” said fourth-year head coach. “The record breakers are focused on improving from last season, while the others swimmers and divers are all looking to make an impact on this team.”

Senior Nicole Scoot leads the divers after an appearance in the NCAA Championships last season. She also won a silver medal at the Zone Championships.

With all of the experience Rutgers returns, it can now focus on improving last year’s fifth-place finish as a team in the Big East Championships. The Knights also boasted a 9-2 overall record last season, the most team wins since 2001.

“We have a unique bunch of athletes who understand the vision of this program and are self-motivated to make an impact on this team,” Spiniello said.

Some of those matchups include a dual-meet with Illinois and a quad-meet against Northwestern, Notre Dame and Michigan.

Rutgers officially begins the season today in the two-day Sonny Werblin Invitational at the Rutgers Aquatic Center.

Rutgers faces several teams, including Pace, Saint Peter’s, Central Connecticut State and Southern Connecticut, as well as other non-collegiate teams.

Spiniello will use the meet as a barometer for where the team stands as it starts meets after six weeks of preseason training.

“I’m excited to get back into competition mode and get to see how our training has gone to this point,” Spiniello said. “This will give the coaches and myself a chance to see where we are and what areas we will need to improve upon going forward.”

Spiniello summed up Rutgers’ goals simply.

“Our goal is to send more people to the NCAA’s than we did last year,” Spiniello said. “The returning squad is filled with letterwinners and record breakers, but the whole team is focused on getting better every day and building on last year’s success.”

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