Freshmen class provides depth for RU

The Rutgers swimming and diving team returns experience, but the incoming freshmen class could push the Scarlet Knights to new heights.

The team returns 14 letterwinners from last season along with the entire 400 medley relay team that set a school record last season.

The Knights also have seven freshmen, which will add depth to an already talented squad. The new swimmers have shown they can compete.

“They are a pretty versatile group and they cover a lot of events,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “They are making an immediate impact on the program, and I’m just excited for their potential as a class as we move forward this year and into the future.”

Freshmen Meghan Kiely, Julia Kudryashova, Rebecca Gross and Rachel Stoddard stood out.

At the Sonny Werblin Invitational on Oct. 19, Stoddard finished second behind junior Greta Leberfinger in the 200 breast stroke. Gross took second in both the 1- and 3-meter dive behind senior captain Nicole Scott.

Kiely and Kudryashova finished second as part of the 200 freestyle relay behind a more experienced Rutgers relay team that included senior Mary Moser. Kudryashova was also part of the 200 freestyle relay team that won Oct. 25 against Wagner.

The number of returning swimmers has shaped the form the freshmen have shown early on.

“The freshmen have taken to our lead very easily,” said senior captain Allyson Perrotti. “It’s a lot easier for them to see how to act at a collegiate meet when there is a bunch of us returning.”

The returning experience has also provided competitive practices which have pushed the swimmers to perform at their best.

While the freshmen have performed well early on, Spiniello believes there has still been a learning curve the swimmers have gone through.

“I think there is definitely an adaptation period, but they’re doing a nice job with it,” Spiniello said. “They are on the right track.”

The Knights have continued to work on the finer details, and with their next meet not until Friday, the team still has time to prepare.

For Scott, being a leader has meant not only helping prepare herself for events but also helping her teammates.

While the leadership role requires extra responsibility, the Toronto native embraces it.

“It’s a big honor to be a captain this year, and I’m just really happy that the team came together so well,” Scott said. “I just really hope to help them enjoy their time here and help keep a positive attitude at meets and at practice.”

For updates on the Rutgers swimming and diving team, follow @TargumSports on Twitter.

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