The past two seasons, the Rowan men’s swimming and diving team had come up short to The College of New Jersey in the Lions’ Invitational.
Rowan made inroads from the first year to the second, but the progress finally paid off in 2015.
Over the three-day Lions’ Invitational, Profs athletes broke six university records en route to supplanting New Jersey Athletic Conference rival TCNJ for first place with 1,202.5 points.
Junior Nick Marks established two new Rowan-best marks, while freshman Joe Furze set one. Marks had times of 49.30 and 1:48.85 in the 100 and 200 butterfly, respectively. In the 200 backstroke, Furze posted a time of 1:53.72.
The two received both New Jersey Athletic Conference and Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference honors for their performances, with Marks being named Swimmer of the Week and Furze the Rookie of the Week.
“It feels great to accomplish something like this,” Marks said. “When I first came here, I saw all those records and I really set my mind to trying to break them all. So, I’m glad I was able to break this one early into the season.”
Head coach Brad Bowser commended the junior’s effort over the meet.
“Nick is a fierce competitor and he doesn’t like to lose,” Bowser said. “He wasn’t even fully rested. I’m anxious to see what he is capable of doing when fully rested.”
Marks and Furze also contributed to record relay times in the 200 (1:32.07) and 400 medleys (3:22.05). The team of sophomore Eric Feuerstein, Marks, freshman Adam Sicinski and junior captain Jesse Novak had a best time of 1:22.80 in the 200 free relay.
Bowser and some of the swimmers believe that their depth was better than expected against their rival.
“The new recruits were really determined to compete against TCNJ and that’s a big reason why we were able to come out on top,” Bowser said.
“I was really excited to be a part of the event,” Furze said. “I think TCNJ sort of underestimated us and I’m happy we were able to come out on top.”
Rowan jumped nine spots in the rankings from last week, which has given the team plenty of confidence going forward. Novak stressed that they cannot let the decision and meet victory go to their heads, however, especially with another meeting with TCNJ on Jan. 23, 2016.
“This win is a big steppingstone and it certainly reassures us that we can win the NJAC championship,” Novak said. “However, we cannot get overconfident to a point where we lose focus on the main goal. As a team, we spoke about the fact that this win will not mean much if we lose to [TCNJ] come January or February. We need to stay hungry and keep working.”
The athletes are determined to continue their training and workouts in their off time during the one-month winter break.
“The most important thing I tell the guys to keep in mind is to stay in shape,” Novak said. “In my freshman year, I did great in the Lions’ invite but then I slacked off in the winter break and my performance started to decline.”
Although the team is strong on many fronts, there is an area of weakness they[ve also acknowledged.
“We are excellent in the flag-to-flag races but we struggle underwater and we need to keep training on that,” Novak said.
Rowan will resume its schedule in the new year as they host conference rival Montclair State University on Jan. 16.
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