RU uses losses as motivation

<p>Sophomore Joanna Wu posted three top-10 finishes at the quad meet, including a first-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke.</p>

Sophomore Joanna Wu posted three top-10 finishes at the quad meet, including a first-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke.

Normally being swept in a quad meet is considered a bad loss.

For the Rutgers swimming and diving team, the defeats serve as motivation.

The Scarlet Knights faced off against two top-25 opponents in Michigan and Notre Dame along with future Big Ten opponent Northwestern Jan. 11 in Evanston, Ill.

Michigan defeated the Knights 219-81 against Michigan, Notre Dame handed them a 206-94 loss and Northwestern captured a 198.5-101.5.

For a team hoping to one day join the ranks among the elite swimming programs in the nation, head coach Phil Spiniello believes the Knights can hold their heads high.

“We were swimming against some top-25 programs and we competed well,” Spiniello said. “We did a lot of season-best times and really raised our level of competition. Obviously you want to come away with a victory but overall it was a very productive trip up to Chicago and it gives us a little test of the Big Ten competition next year.”

Strong performances from sophomore Joanna Wu, senior Mary Moser and junior Greta Leberfinger serve as promising results moving forward.

Both Wu and Moser posted three top-10 finishes on the day, highlighted by Wu’s first-place finish in the 200-yard backstroke.

Leberfinger also had a strong showing on the day, finishing third in the 100-yard breaststroke with a time of 1:04.56.

“It gives me so much pride that I can go into a meet and just swim really fast and swim against all these top swimmers,” Wu said. “It was just awesome just to be able to go in, swim and show them that Rutgers has what it takes to be in the Big Ten.”

Senior captain Nicole Scott also held her own in the diving portion of the meet, placing third in the 1-meter dive and fourth in the 3-meter dive.

While the Toronto native has won most of her dives this season, Scott believes the tough competition will only help her prepare for the AAC Championships.

“We put everything we had into it, and I think that all of us were happy with how we did,” Scott said. “Obviously there are a lot of strong people competing at that meet, but I think that’s how you get better by competing against strong teams like that.”

Conference rival Louisville is currently ranked No. 13 in the nation. Southern Methodist, another AAC opponent, has been in and out of the rankings throughout the season.

With success at the AAC Championships the ultimate goal, getting a taste of what it takes to compete against a top-25 caliber school could prove invaluable.

“Just racing and diving against an elite level of competition like that against top-ranked programs helps you learn how to mentally prepare for that,” Spiniello said. “I think the goal of that trip, which was accomplished, was to prepare for the AAC championship meet next month.”

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

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