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Practice makes perfect for Rutgers with strong start to season

<p>Senior swimmer Joanna Wu hopes the double sessions Rutgers does three times a week help her achieve her season goals.</p>

Senior swimmer Joanna Wu hopes the double sessions Rutgers does three times a week help her achieve her season goals.

Preparation is key.

Just like any other sport, practice is one of the more crucial aspects of swimming and diving. As most coaches say, “practice makes perfect.” One can often predict the outcome of a competition by observing players during practice sessions and seeing if they are giving their full efforts and going full speed.

For the Rutgers swimming and diving team, long hours spent in the pool along with discipline and dedication have led to early success this season.

On Oct. 2 and 3, the Scarlet Knights posted a 297.5 team total to place fourth at the Florida Gulf Coast Invitational. Senior Joanna Wu won the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 54.94 and had two NCAA-B qualifying times. With a finishing time of 57.94, senior Morgan Pfaff tied for first in the 100-meter individual medley.

At the Sonny Werblin Recreation Center Invitational on Oct. 16 and 17, sophomore Addison Walkowiak won the 3-meter dive and 1-meter dive events while her team earned an additional eight individual victories. Pfaff, junior Rachel Stoddard, freshman Cynthia Wu and Joanna Wu all earned two individual victories.

Rutgers defeated the Seahawks of Wagner by a score of 195-102 on Oct. 23 at the Rutgers Aquatics Center on Busch campus in Piscataway. The Knights moved to 1-0 in dual competition at the conclusion of the meet. Junior Alyssa Black swept the diving events by winning the 1-meter and 3-meter dives.

The team picked up 10 individual victories against the Seahawks. Pfaff, Stoddard and Wu each had two individual titles. Sophomore Thomasin Lee placed first in the 1650 freestyle with a season best time of 17:45.26. In the 200 medley relay, the unit of junior Meghan Kielly, Pfaff and Stoddard had a time of 1:45.40 to secure first place for the Knights.

Next up for Rutgers was the daunting task of facing off against the Big East gauntlet of Georgetown, Seton Hall and Villanova on Nov. 6 and 7. The quad meet took place at the Rutgers Aquatic Center. The Knights defeated Georgetown 156-97 and Seton Hall 274-79.

Rutgers was unable to overtake Villanova.

The Wildcats beat all three teams participating in the quad meet, including Rutgers, by a score of 198-153. For the Knights, being able to push Villanova to the brink is a foretelling sign of possible good outcomes in the future.

All in all, Rutgers has had a sound season thus far, but things did not all come together in one shot. Bringing a championship caliber team to fruition doesn’t happen overnight.

Under the leadership of head coach Petra Martin, the Knights have a strict regimen and tough practice schedule.

The team practices six days a week, Monday through Saturday. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, the team has double sessions, similar to two a days in football during training camp.

The Knights have single sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.

“On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, we go doubles,” Martin said. “Tuesday, Thursday and then Saturday is just single.”

When the team has double-sessions, their days begin in the wee hours of the morning when the sun just begins to creak over the horizon.

“On a day like today, Monday, we start at 6:30 in the morning and we first do a little bit of … exercises,” Martin said. “Then we have the women spinning for about 30 minutes, you know, on the spinning bikes and then we swim long course meters for about an hour and a half.”

The Knights then return to the pool in the afternoon.

“Then we come back in the afternoon and they lift,” Martin said. “They do weight training and then we’re in the pool … and that is between like 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock in the afternoon. In the morning, we get done right around 8:30.”

Wu said that double sessions are one of the aspects that makes swimming such a difficult sport.

“The other hardest thing is that swimming especially at this university, swimming is the only sport that does doubles,” Wu said. “So we do workouts in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and then we do another work out in the afternoon and we do afternoon workouts every single day, but it’s only Monday, Wednesday, Friday that we do doubles.”

Wu hopes that the long hours of practice will help her accomplish two of her goals this season.

“There’s a lot of goals this year that I’ve been thinking about,” Wu said. “There’s two that I really want to accomplish at Big Tens, I want to break 50 seconds in the 100 backstroke and then I want to be as close as I can to a minute and fifty seconds in the 200 backstroke.”

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

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