Dymek, Woods to represent Rutgers at Junior Nationals

From Dec. 5 to Dec. 8, several members of the Rutgers swimming and diving team will be facing off against swimmers from other schools in the Speedo Winter Junior Championships in Greensboro, N.C.

This event is a part of the USA Swimming series. Freshmen Nora Woods and Kasja Dymek will represent the Scarlet Knights at the Greensboro Aquatics Center. These two swimmers will be competing on Friday and Saturday at different events. 

Native U.S. swimmers aged 18 and under who have met certain required times during the period of Nov. 1, 2017 to Nov. 27, 2018 are eligible to compete in this tournament.

Woods has had an exciting start to her first collegiate season. Earlier this year she was the New Jersey state champion in the 100-yard breaststroke event. 

This season, Woods's season-best time in the 100-yard breaststroke was 1:06.38. In her final year at Collingswood High School, she swam in this same meet, placing 30th in the preliminaries with a time of 1:03.29. 

In her first collegiate season, Woods has increased her times dramatically. At last week's Rutgers Invitational, she had a season-best time of 2:23.38 in the 200-yard breaststroke. 

At this week's meet, she's the No. 17 seed in the 100-yard breaststroke event and is ranked higher in the 200-yard breaststroke as the No. 9 seed. 

“We didn't rest her for the invite," said head coach Jon Maccoll. "Her focus is to do what the other people are doing in the invite, to see where she's at."

Dymek has done very well this season with relay and butterfly races. At last week’s Rutgers Invitational, she scored a career-best time of 1:59.80 in the 200-yard butterfly race. This time ranks her as 16th in Big Ten for this race. Dymek is the No. 18 seed in the 100-yard butterfly event and is the No. 44 seed in the 200-yard butterfly event.

“We want to see where she's at with a two-day longer rest period. I want to see her go out there and compete with the best under 18 in the world," Maccoll said. “I’m hoping we'll get slightly better results out of (Dymek). I want her to go out there and do her best. If it doesn’t go well, we'll know how to do better in the Big Ten."

One important to factor to watch out for this week is that the two participating Knights are coming off an intense four-day Invitational. It'll be interesting to see if they can overcome possible fatigue from last week's meet. 

Rutgers' record-breaking performances at its Tri-Meet could even catapult it into the NCAA or Big Ten competitions coming up in the spring. Even with these projections, Maccoll said there are still some things that need to be worked on before and after this next meet to improve for the future, particularly with Dymek's stroke count increase and Woods's fatigue.

"This high-caliber meet is a great opportunity to get two of our promising young swimmers some valuable experience," Maccoll said. "(Dymek) will be working on rest strategies with her taper to optimize her plan for the Big Ten Championships. Nora will be making up some ground after missing the beginning of the season with an injury."

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

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