The Rutgers swimming and diving teams opened the 2021-2022 season in record setting fashion this past weekend in West Point, New York. The program won 11 events including three pool records that resulted in a 143-96 victory over Army.
“This is the best first meet we’ve had since I’ve been here,” said head swimming coach Jon Maccoll, who was hired in 2017. “The team spirit and the vibes on deck were just amazing. We went in there with a high-performance mindset, executed a high-performance plan and we swam really fast. I’m so proud of each and every one of them. I’m just bursting with pride right now.”
The most notable accomplishment was the 400 medley relay team resetting the Crandall Pool record that was previously held by the 1976 Olympic team. The foursome of Alice Scarabelli, Tina Celik, Beatriz Zoppeidossantos and Liza Ryndych reset produced a time of 3:47.05, which bested the previous record held by that 1976 Olympic team by 2.94 seconds.
Six-time All-American Abigail Knapton, who transferred from Nebraska, made her Rutgers debut by setting pool records in both the 1M and 3M diving competitions. She also immediately jumped into the program records books with her performance. Knapton’s 3M score of 347.05 was the second best ever in program history and her 1M performance with 309.53 points placed her third all-time in the event for Rutgers. Her teammates, Holly Prasanto and Savana Trueb, finished in second and third in the 1M behind Knapton, which was ninth and tenth all-time in program history. It was a great start for first year head diving coach Natasha Chikina, who was hired from Nebraska this past offseason.
Fresh of her relay performance, Alice Scarabelli posted the sixth-fastest time in the country in the 200 freestyle with a time of 1:49.30. Teammates Sofia Chichaikina finished second with a time of 1:50.66 and Giulia Ghidini followed in third with a time of 1:51.33.
Rutgers swept the podium in the 50 freestyle as well with Virginia Menicucci winning the event with a time of 24.38, followed by Sofia Lobova in 24.46 and Liza Ryndych in 24.52.
Zoppeidossantos, also part of the record setting relay team, won the 100 fly in a time of 56.59. Chichaikina also picked up a victory in the 100 free logging 51.39.
Tina Celik won the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:03.84 and finished second in the 400 IM with a time of 4:36.83.
The 200 free relay team were also victorious with a time of 1:35.13 and included Sofia Chichaikina, Giulia Ghidini, Liza Ryndych and Virginia Menicucci.
In a long distance event, Cat Salladin and Yael Weber finished first and second respectively in the 1000 freestyle. Salladin won her Rutgers debut with a time of 10:22.95, while Weber finished in second in 10:39.27 setting a personal best for herself at the collegiate level. Weber also came in third in the 500 free with a time of 5:16.30.
The Rutgers women’s swimming & diving team will next compete at the Colgate Invitational on Friday, October 15 and Saturday, October 16 against the host Raiders, St. Bonaventure and UMass.