RU qualified the most swimmers out of any BIG EAST school with four swimmers earning spots at the NCAA Championships. Senior Erin McIntyre (Broomfield, CO), freshman Kelly Harrigan (Bristol, CT), junior Casmera Wick (Longmont, CO) and senior Michelle DeFreese (Rahway, NJ) all qualified individually. Other BIG EAST schools that qualified swimmers were Notre Dame (3), Villanova (2), Miami (2) and Pittsburgh (1).
McIntyre qualified in the 1650 freestyle event (16:34.34) after finishing eighth
in the country last season and will also swim the 500 freestyle event (4:50.88)
and 400 individual medley (4:19.84) at the championship meet. McIntyre, the
2002-03 BIG EAST Scholar-Athlete of the Year, was forced to sit out the first
two months of the season with a broken clavicle.
DeFreese qualified in the 100 butterfly (53.32) with a new BIG EAST and Rutgers record, as well as the 11th fastest time in the country. She has improved over six seconds in her 100 fly since coming to Rutgers and is expected to finish her college career as one of the nation’s fastest swimmers in the event.
Wick qualified in the 200 freestyle (1:48.45) and will also swim the 50 freestyle (23.44) and 100 freestyle (50.50) events. She is currently the school record-holder in all three events and finished 15th at the NCAA Championships last season in the 200 freestyle. After fighting through illness during the BIG EAST Championships, she still managed to reach the final in all of her events.
Harrigan qualified with NCAA A cuts in the 500 freestyle (4:43.69), 100 backstroke (54.55) and 200 backstroke (1:56.02), while setting both backstroke BIG EAST records and performing new school records in all three events. She is seeded in the top ten in two events going into the NCAA Championships. Harrigan will be the only Rutgers swimmer making her first appearance at the NCAA Championships.
Junior Samantha Caetano(Alameda CA), while reaching the finals at the BIG EAST Championships, missed qualifying by only two-tenths of a second. Freshman Katie Kuczmarski (Wilmington, DE) also missed qualifying in the 100 breaststroke by only three-tenths of a second, but with a new school-record and personal-best time of 1:02.95. Rutgers came close to qualifying for the NCAAs in a number of other events as well. The 400 medley relay team of Harrigan, Kuczmarski, DeFreese and Wick was short nine-tenths of a second and the 800 freestyle relay team Harrigan, Wick, Caetano and McIntyre came within two-tenths of a second of reaching the cut. Both relays were tops in the BIG EAST Conference and the 800 freestyle relay team set new BIG EAST record of 6:16.43.