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Senior swimmer provides leadership for Rutgers after rough patch

<p>Senior swimmer Morgan Pfaff, a former four-time All-American in high school, has come a long way over the course of her career in the sport.</p>

Senior swimmer Morgan Pfaff, a former four-time All-American in high school, has come a long way over the course of her career in the sport.

On any team, having valuable leadership is important, especially in times of dire straits. 

The Rutgers swimming and diving team has struggled in its last two outings, finishing in third place in tri-meets.

With the biggest meet to date looming over the horizon, the Scarlet Knights will need their upperclassmen swimmers to provide some direction in order to make the ultimate push towards the Big Ten Championship in February.

The Knights have a strong group of seniors who can lead the pack the rest of the way. Morgan Pfaff is among that unit. The senior swimmer from Red Lion, Pennsylvania, has seen it all, both the ups and the downs, throughout her time on the Banks.

Pfaff has competed in three conferences, beginning the roller coaster ride in the Big East, then moving to the American Athletic Conference before finally stopping in the Big Ten.

The veteran began swimming competitively at the age of nine, starting at local summer leagues before moving on to the North Baltimore Aquatic Club — roughly an hour drive from her hometown — with her coach at the time, Michael Brooks.

"(Brooks) definitely taught me to love swimming and ever since I got in and found the love of racing in the pool and how much dedication you had to put into it," Pfaff said. "I fell in love and I couldn’t stay away.”

Pfaff followed her coach to a different club team during her high school years while swimming for Red Lion High School. As a Lion, she was a member of the swim team for three years and holds both school and District III records in the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke.

She was a four-time high school All-American and was named MVP and Swimmer of the Year on three occasions.

Pfaff credits Brooks for preparing her for all of the trials and tribulations she would face both in and out of the pool.

“The coach I had ... my whole life prepared me for absolutely anything when I came to college,” she said. “It was awesome knowing during the recruiting process that the crazy hours and the amount of work that I put in with him and how strong he made me physically and mentally, that I could handle anything coming into college no matter where I went or what challenges or changes that I might face throughout my four years.”

Pfaff was recruited by former head swimming coach Phil Spiniello, who now serves as an assistant coach at North Carolina after resigning his post at Rutgers at the conclusion of the 2014 season.

She was moved when she saw the close bond the swimmers had with each other and the pride they had for their school when she made her visit to Rutgers while being recruited.

“Every single person was important and that really stuck out to me,” she said. “The girls, the pride that they have for each other and for the school is so noticeable and it’s so awesome to be able to like go out and represent that, not just myself but the Knight to my right and the Knight to my left. That’s definitely what I do it for.”

Pfaff honoree competes in the individual medley, backstroke and butterfly events for the team. Pfaff loves to race in the 400 individual medley.

Senior Joanna Wu, along with Pfaff, will look to help guide their team to victory in their next meet — the Big Ten Championships Feb. 6.

“I think going into Big Ten, we definitely need to step up our mental game cause we are gonna go against Penn State again and it’s gonna be a lot more teams and a lot (of faster) girls and you know, we just gotta be confident and go into it,” Wu said.

The team will try and move past the results of their previous two meets in order to secure a much needed victory in their biggest meet to date using the experience gained throughout the season.

“I think every meet, good one or bad one or mediocre one, they’re all learning experiences and there is always something that we can pick up from that experience and make things better for the future,” said head swimming coach Petra Martin.

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

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