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Swimming defeats Rutgers amid tough training period

This is the most vulnerable time for the Princeton men's and women's swimming teams.

Deep in the middle of their most intense training of the season, where tired and worn-out bodies are the norm at practice, both teams had to defend their spotless records against intrastate rival Rutgers this past weekend at DeNunzio Pool.


Possible upsets were brewing.

But the Tiger swimming teams proved themselves invulnerable to such challenges, continuing their undefeated seasons by defeating Rutgers, 167-121 in men's competition and 178-117 in women's competition.

The men's team (6-0 overall, 3-0 Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League), however, thought at first that something might be in the air. After losing the 200-yard medley relay and a total of five of their first seven events, the team and its coach had to reorganize their thoughts.

"Rutgers came out and had some good swims in the beginning," head coach Rob Orr said. "We had to make some alterations in the lineup for the later events and the guys, out of necessity, had to rally back at the end of the meet."

The Tigers recovered triumphantly, stepping up to win six of the final nine events against the upstart Scarlet Knights.

"Everyone's pretty broken down at this point," senior captain Dan Russell said. "Army [last weekend] wasn't really a good meet for anyone, so it was definitely encouraging to see us step up and do so well."


Princeton prevailed behind the stellar performance of sophomore backstroker Chris Cunningham, who was victorious in both the 200 backstroke and the 400 individual medley with times of one minute, 49.90 seconds and 4:03.83, respectively.

Other notable swims were turned in by senior freestyler Nathan Rebuck, who finished first in the 100 free with a time of 46.29 and freshman sensation Jesse Gage, whose impressive 49.92 time in the 100 fly also won him the top spot in that event.

While the men's team struggled to get off the blocks, the women's team had no such problems disposing of its first opponent since returning from vacation, winning a whopping 13 of the 16 events against the Scarlet Knights.

"You never know what to expect after athletes come back after break," senior captain Alison Goodner said. "But we had such an awesome performance all around."

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Princeton's women's team (5-0, 3-0) was propelled by freshmen freestyler Maura Bolger and butterflyer Molly Seto. Seto scored a trifecta with impressive victories in the 200 fly, 50 freestyle and the 100 fly. Bolger showed her mettle as well, setting the tone in the first individual event of the day by winning the 1000 free with a time of 10:13.68.

Princeton's divers also had a dominating meet on the boards. They swept all three places in both the one and three-meter diving competitions, with sophomore Danielle Stramandi winning the one-meter and junior Erin Lutz placing first in the three-meter.

Both teams now have a two-week respite before emerging again to face Dartmouth on January 23. Then, the Tigers will have to gear up for their most important meet of the year to that point, the Harvard-Yale-Princeton meet, Feb. 2-3, in Cambridge, Mass.