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Rutgers returns to competition

<p>Joanna Wu, a Big Ten Swimmer of the Week earlier this season, attributed mental and physical preparation as a key to her progression. Wu and Rutgers return to the pool at the Frank Elm Invitational at the Rutgers Aquatic Center&nbsp;after a weekend off .</p>

Joanna Wu, a Big Ten Swimmer of the Week earlier this season, attributed mental and physical preparation as a key to her progression. Wu and Rutgers return to the pool at the Frank Elm Invitational at the Rutgers Aquatic Center after a weekend off .

The Rutgers swimming and diving team will jump into its home pool at the Rutgers Aquatics Center on Busch Campus come Friday for the Frank Elm Invitational. The meet will begin at 10 a.m. and will be continue for two additional days. 

The Invitational continue into Saturday evening at 6 p.m. and concludes on Sunday night after the session that kicks off at 5 p.m.

With a surge of momentum at their feet, the Knights return to the pool.

In the team’s last outing on Nov. 6 and 7, they defeated two former Big East foes, Georgetown and Seton Hall in a quad meet at the Rutgers Aquatics Center. 

Rutgers beat the Hoyas, 156-97, and won against the Pirates, 274-79. Villanova, the third team in the quad meet, was victorious against the home squad by a score of 198-153.

During the first day of the meet on Friday, Nov. 6, sophomore diver Addison Walkowiak set a new program record for Rutgers in the three-meter dive event. 

She scored a 348.55 and shattered the record of former Knight Nicole Scott who had previously posted a score of 342.95. On day two, Walkowiak placed first in the one-meter dive event, scoring a 303.25.

Because of Walkowiak’s stellar performance, she was named Big Ten Diver of the Week by the conference on Nov. 11. Senior Joanna Wu was also honored by the Big Ten and was named Big Ten Swimmer of the Week earlier this season.

“I think it’s fantastic,” said head coach Petra Martin. “I’m really excited to have another athlete on our team being Big Ten, being recognized by the Big Ten. I think it’s a great sign for the program and the direction we are moving in. We still have a lot of work to do but it’s a little reassurance.”

In lengthy meets such as the Frank Elm Invitational, recovery will be important. The swimmers will be doing the best they can to ensure that they are well-rested and ready to go on each day. Wu said that eating right and getting enough sleep are things she will be doing to rejuvenate herself between sessions.

“Recovery is always a very important aspect to our team’s success,” Wu said. “I also think that recovery is affected by our mentality as well. You can have as much rest and as much recovery as you want, but if you don’t have that (focus) inside of your head at that point, that recovery is nothing to you.”

Maintaining a strong mentality will be key for the Knights to have a performance this weekend.

As much as recovery is really important to the team physically, the mentality throughout this whole meet will definitely be impacting the team's recovery between sessions, Wu said.

Martin has been preaching about how important recovery is to her team for some time.

“Recovery is something that we have been talking to the team about since the beginning of the season, and we're really trying to teach them how to take care of themselves during competition,” Martin said. “It’s different for different people. Obviously, everybody is a little bit different, but the big thing for all of them will be making sure … we’re eating right, getting to bed on time and in between sessions that they take a nap. It's simple things like that, but they all make a big difference.”

Walkowiak agrees that rest and recovery will be crucial.

“It’s extremely important,” Walkowiak said. “You know, you just gotta get the right foods in you, the right vitamins and probably ice baths, and just try to rest and recover your muscles for the next day because it’s gonna be a really long meet.”

Eight teams including New Hampshire, James Madison, Navy and Wagner will be partaking in the Frank Elm Invitational. The Knights stiffest competition will likely by from the Midshipmen of Navy.

In their most recent outing, Navy secured three victories in a quad meet on Nov. 7 at home. The Midshipmen defeated Lafayette 207-84, American by a score of 203-82 and Bucknell 180-112 at the meet in impressive fashion. Navy blew all three Patriot League rivals out of the water. Lauren Barber of Navy collected three individual wins for her team.

The Midshipmen sail to Piscataway unbeaten with a 6-0 record.

“We have a lot of great competition … but probably one of the team’s I’m most looking forward to competing with is Navy,” Wu said. “They’re a great group of girls. They train day in and day out and you know, they always have something up their sleeve. It's really fun to race them because you don’t know what to expect, you just gotta go do you and swim your hardest.”

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

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