For a fourth straight season, the Rowan women’s swimming and diving program proved to be the powerhouse of the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).
Emerging as the pre-season favorites to repeat as NJAC champions, the program exceeded expectations by sweeping their division rivals (5-0).
On Saturday, the Profs defeated an up-and-coming and talented The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) team in dominant and convincing fashion in Ewing, New Jersey, 180-114.
Although current Head Coach Elise Blaschke had the experience of winning three NJAC championships when she operated as Head Coach Robert “Brad” Bowser’s main assistant, she reflected on the moment with mixed emotions.
“I would say [this title] did and it didn’t [have more significance],” Blaschke said. “I always felt super involved and Brad always made sure I felt like I was a big contributor. I think the biggest thing to note is that I am still training the men’s and women’s team so equally it is an accomplishment for both of us.”
Senior Emily LaBenski embraced the challenge of earning four NJAC titles in her entire career at the program.
“I really wanted it to be my fourth and last one,” Labenski said. “You know, going out with a bang basically your senior year you just want to achieve the most that you can the last time you are here … we all [seniors] wanted that last one before we graduate.”
LaBenski orchestrated two first-place finishes in the 200 freestyle and 200 breaststroke and captured a third-place finish in the 200 individual medleys.
“She is a competitor and I know I can rely on her,” Blaschke said. “I think I’ve seen a huge transition in her which has been exceptional. I am excited to see what she does at the end of the year.”
Freshman and NJAC Rookie of the Week McChesney continued her remarkable season by delivering three first-place finishes in the 100 freestyle, 200 medley and 400 freestyle relays, along with a second-place finish in the 50 free.
Completing a season sweep of their division rivals and claiming their fourth conference title in four years are serving as a confidence booster. The team is in pursuit of greater goals like securing a Metropolitan Conference Championship (MET) next month and have participants represent Rowan at the NCAA Division III championship.
“Moving forward, we are excited about what we have left in the tank before we start to get some rest,” Blaschke said. “The last three weeks, we’ll do a taper and rest them for METs. And then at METs we hope we see some NCAA qualifying times.”
“The confidence level is high,” LaBenski said. “Sometimes you need that one win against that really good competitor to get more confidence in yourself to perform better. So if you are in the right mind and physical shape, which we have been accomplishing a lot this season, so when all these elements come together you give your best performances.”
The reigning Profs continue their season on Saturday at home against the United States Merchant Marine Academy, where they will also celebrate Senior Day and honor the eight seniors on the women’s team.
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