As the Rowan women’s swimming and diving team approaches the midpoint of the season, the Profs will look to carry their early-season success into the three-day Lions’ Invitational this weekend.
Hosted by New Jersey Athletic Conference rival The College of New Jersey, the Lions’ Invitational will also feature Rowan, the University of Bridgeport, the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and York College.
Rowan took second place in last year’s multi-team meet, while TCNJ finished fourth. Although head coach Brad Bowser would not mind another high placing for the team this season, he is hoping for solid performances at the individual level.
“My goal is for us to compete. I want to try to get as many people in the finals as possible,” Bowser said. “Last year we got second, and if we walk away second this year, I’ll be happy. However, I’m really just looking for individual successes and for our team to continue to build confidence.”
Compared to previous meets, the Lions’ Invitational is the biggest of the season for the Profs.
“For us this is a very important meet,” sophomore Polina Dineva said. “It’s an opportunity for us to see where we are at and use it as a benchmark going into the rest of the season.”
The Lions’ Invitational is also important for the team because it allows them to get an early look at TCNJ before they swim head-to-head on Jan. 23, 2016.
Although this season was originally considered a rebuilding year for Rowan, the team currently finds itself tied for first in the NJAC with TCNJ. The Profs, originally picked to finish fourth in the preseason coaches poll, have experienced a great deal of success early in the season.
While veteran swimmers have played a significant role in the team’s success, the contributions of freshmen Miranda Coughlan and Gabby Gligor have also given the team a boost.
“Their presence has been huge,” Bowser said. “When you have two freshmen in the backend of your medley relay, that’s a huge deal. We have two freshmen who are strong leaders in the pool and that’s a great thing for the team.”
Coughlan and Gligor have been two of the conference’s most talented rookies this season. Through the first six weeks of the season, Coughlan has earned two NJAC Swimming Rookie of the Week awards while Gligor has received one.
The duo, alongside sophomore Dineva, have also contributed a great deal to the team’s 200 free and 400 medley relay, which ranks among the top in Division III.
The Profs will likely look to the underclassmen for continued success the rest of the way in 2015-16, including the highly-anticipated Lions’ Invitational.
“Since this meet is a little bit bigger than our past meets, I am a little bit nervous because I just want all my hard work to pay off,” Coughlan said. “However, I’ve learned that you just have to stay calm and stay confident in all the work you put in.”
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