The Rutgers swimming and diving team had its best performance ever at the Big Ten Championships this past weekend at Indiana’s Councilman Billingsly Aquatic Center. Senior Vera Koprivova earned the first Big Ten swimming medal in program history by finishing in third place in the 100 yard backstroke on Friday night, breaking a school record in the process with a time of 51.83 seconds.
From the Rutgers press release:
”I am very, very happy,” Koprivova said. “I am happy because, finally, Rutgers is able to celebrate being in the Top 3 of a swimming event. I worked my butt off for this. I’m also happy because it wasn’t a plan to prioritize the 100 and try to medal, so I’m excited to see what I can do in the 200 tomorrow. It’s a testament that what we worked on all year worked out so well.”
“It was a special night,” said head coach Jon Maccoll. “It was Rutgers’ best swimming night at the conference meet since we joined the Big Ten. We’re swimming at a world class level, and this is just the beginning. We’re using this as a stepping stone for the NCAA Championships, joining national teams and entering world competitions. Tonight was a surprise to everyone except us. This was the plan.”
Watch Vera Koprivova's history making bronze medal swim in the 100-yard backstroke from the Big Ten Championships. pic.twitter.com/30wihc6mwo— RU Swimming & Diving (@RUSwimDive) February 23, 2019
Rutgers wasn’t done yet, as the following night Koprivova and fellow senior Francesca Stoppa won additional bronze medals. Korpivova became the first two-time Big Ten medalist for Rutgers by finishing in third place of the 200 yard backstroke with a time of 1:52.60. Stoppa finally broke through in the 200 yard butterfly, an event she finished in fourth place the previous two years. On Saturday, Stoppa won the bronze with a time of 1:55.99.
In addition, Rutgers had four other performances result in a podium finish (finishing in the top 8 by making the finals). Having seven podium finishers was the best performance for Rutgers since joining the Big Ten five seasons ago. Overall, Rutgers finished in 11th place with 392 total points, just behind Iowa (400.5 points) and Penn State (404 points). The Scarlet Knights were well ahead of 12th place Michigan State (192 points) and 13th place Illinois (190 points).
Freshman Terka Grusova finished behind Korpivova in the 200 yard backstroke with a time of 1:55.85 for seventh place.
In regard to bids for the NCAA Championships, those are still to be announced. However, four divers for Rutgers are set to compete at the NCAA Zone A Championships on March 11-13 in Annapolis, Maryland. Jenna Douglass will dive in the 1 meter, Rachel Byrne will do both the 1 & 3 meter events, as well as Marin Bloise and Lauren Boone in the 3 meter event.