Rutgers set to host ECAC Championships
Knights get ready to solidify spots in NCAA tournament
The Rutgers swimming and diving team will be staying in Piscataway this week, as it prepares to host the ECAC Championships this weekend. The ECAC Championships will be held at the Rutgers Aquatics Center starting on Friday and ending on Sunday.
Last week, the Scarlet Knights had multiple impressive performances at the Big Ten Championships in Columbus, Ohio.
Rutgers finished ninth overall at the Big Ten Championships, matching its placement in the event last year, but only scored 386 points, not matching the program's previous high of 446 that it reached in 2017.
But despite the lower point total, swimming head coach Jon Maccoll was still happy with the performance last week.
“The week went really well overall,” Maccoll said to scarletknights.com. “Ninth place is a great result in the best swimming conference in the nation, and we swam better and better each day. They made the adjustments, kept the energy up all week and really had fun supporting each other.”
There were several Knights who had very impressive performances last week, some of which were good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships in March.
Senior diver Addison Walkowiak has been the team’s breakout performer all season, and it was no exception during conference championship week. Walkowiak broke her own school record and became Rutgers’ first-ever Big Ten All-Conference performer, as she finished as the runner-up in the 1-meter diving competition.
This was the third time that Walkowiak has one-upped her own record on the 1-meter board just this season.
The next day, Walkowiak earned the bronze medal in the 3-meter diving competition, and the day after that finished seventh in platform diving to close out the week. Walkowiak became the first Knight swimmer or diver to be given All-Conference honors since Rutgers became a member of the Big Ten in 2014.
Two other Knights are coming off big weeks in Columbus, freshman Sveva Schiazzano and junior Francesca Stoppa.
Schiazzano broke two 16-year-old records over the weekend, as she swam the 1,000-yard freestyle and 1,650-yard freestyle the fastest in program history last weekend during the event finals. The Sorrento, Italy native surpassed the record of Rutgers Athletics Hall of Famer Erin McIntyre, who set the mark in 2002.
Schiazzano made her first appearance on the Big Ten podium by placing eighth in the event, as well.
Stoppa had the highest event finish for Rutgers in any swimming event, finishing fourth in the 200-yard butterfly, while breaking her own school record in the process with a new mark of 1:55.95. After this past weekend, Stoppa is the owner of the 100- and 200-yard records for the Knights and is showing no signs of slowing down.
Maccoll could not be more effusive in his praise of Stoppa last week.
“Fran is impressive because she keeps getting better," Maccoll said. "It shows she is happy, the training is working and she's not getting complacent. Women can plateau at this age, but not her, and that's a testament to how hard she works."
With their performances this past week, Schiazzano and Stoppa are virtually, but not officially, guaranteed spots at the NCAA Championships.
Two swimmers looking to also compete at the NCAA Championships are junior Vera Koprivova and sophomore Francesca Bertotto. Their times at the Big Ten Championships — Koprivova in the 200-yard backstroke and Bertotto in the 500-yard freestyle — gave them a better chance at NCAA’s, and they will try to solidify their bids at the ECAC Championships this weekend.
Overall, Maccoll is very happy with the performance his team put up last week and thinks it bodes well for the future of the team.
“We were happy with the records,” Maccoll said. “It shows how far Rutgers has come. You look at how long those records have been on the board, it shows where those teams were nationally. This shows that Rutgers is back. Diving scores a bunch of points, but we scored more individual swimming points than ever before. It shows the development of this entire program.”
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