The Rutgers swimming and diving team placed fifth at the Big East Championships this weekend with a total score of 410.50 points.
The Scarlet Knights improved their point total from last year’s event by 163, when they finished in eighth.
“I couldn’t be prouder of how the women performed in getting top five,” said head coach Phil Spiniello. “That was our goal all year long as a program — to improve upon our finish of last year, to be a top-five program in the Big East.”
The Knights ended only five points behind Villanova in fourth place and were 28 points shy of taking third.
Junior Nicole Scott highlighted the four-day event for the Knights by earning gold Saturday in the platform diving event with a score of 273.25.
“I was elated with Nicole Scott’s performance and all the divers as a whole” Spiniello said. “The diving crew brought in a lot of points for the program at this meet and [were] a big piece of this puzzle.”
Scott is the first Big East Champion under Spiniello in his three years coaching the program.
On the last day of competition Saturday, freshman Joanna Wu rounded out her first-career Big East Championships with a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter backstroke.
Sophomore Greta Leberfinger also took home a sixth-place finish in the 200-meter breaststroke finals.
In the final event of her collegiate career, senior co-captain Taylor Zafir finished the 1650-meter freestyle event with a time of 17:10.12.
The Knights found themselves in fourth place after Friday’s competition.
Rutgers compiled 128 points in the third day of competition while setting a new school record in the 400-meter medley relay.
Spiniello said the relay team surprised some people with its performance. It went from seventh place to finishing third in the finals.
A squad consisting of Wu, Leberfinger and juniors Mary Moser and Brittany Guinee earned the milestone with a time of 3:40.52.
Wu took fourth in the 100-meter backstroke, her strongest event, and placed fifth Friday in the 200-meter freestyle. She was followed by freshman Sarah Coyne for the Knights.
Both athletes made an early mark in their first Big East Championships during the first two days of competition.
Wu finished the 500-meter freestyle with a time of 4:49.99, improving her preliminary score by more than three seconds.
Moser took ninth in the 50-meter freestyle with Coyne behind in 13th place. Both finished in less than 24 seconds.
Rutgers started off the Big East Championships strong with 153.50 total points after the first two days.
The divers began the first day with sophomore Nicole Honey grabbing ninth place in the finals of the 3-meter event.
Honey completed a score of 271.00, with Scott right behind at 268.60. Both divers have been at the top of the standings for the Knights throughout the season.
Scott took sixth place in the next day’s 1-meter dive with a score of 264.60 — and was followed closely by senior co-captain Kate Kearney.
The relays provided Rutgers with early scoring opportunities.
Before the record-setting performance Friday, the Knights took seventh place in the 800-meter freestyle finals with a squad of Wu, Moser, Guinee and freshman Morgan Pfaff.
Rutgers earned a pair of fourth-place finishes in the 200-meter medley relay and 200-meter freestyle relay events.
“As a team, we definitely had the potential, and we came through with it,” Spiniello said. “We got people into the top eight in the morning swims, so we could come back at night in the finals and score big points.”