Gillooly qualifies for NCAA’s with two record-breaking performances at WPI Gompei Invitational

Sophomore Kevin Gillooly broke the WPI Gompei Invitational's record for the 50 free as well as Rowan's record in the 100 backstroke. He made NCAA B-cut in both events. Photo courtesy of Rowan Athletics.

Selected as the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Rookie of the Year last season, Kevin Gillooly made his name known in the region once again at this past weekend’s WPI Gompei Invitational.

He qualified for not only one, but two events in the NCAA Division III Championships happening later this year, and did so in record-breaking fashion.

Gillooly qualified in the 100 backstroke with a time of 49.99 (B-cut is 50.13) and beat Larry Dow’s record of 50.98, set back in 2013. The sophomore also went ahead and qualified in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.39 (B-cut is 20.66), beating a meet record that stood at 21.09.

“That mark of breaking 50 seconds in 100 back,” said head coach Brad Bowser. “That’s a huge step. That’s a milestone.”

Bowser has been pleased with the work that Gillooly has been putting in so far this season. But, even after breaking records and setting himself up for the grand stage that is the NCAA’s, Bowser knows they aren’t nearly done working.

“The next level for him is to final at NCAA’s,” Bowser said. “Everything seems to be going smooth.”

The fifth-year head coach compared Gillooly to where Class of 2017’s Jesse Novak was in his second year.

“Kevin’s right around where Jesse was at this point in time,” Bowser said.

Novak was an NJAC Swimmer of the Year in his junior and senior seasons, as well as a national champion in his senior year. He won the 50 and 100 freestyles at NCAA’s his sophomore year.

Gillooly seems to be coming into his own this season, which Bowser credits to him coming into his body, as well as his more consistent efforts in the pool and gym. Gillooly is a lean 6’5” with a long reach and a broad wingspan, built to swim. Bowser said he’s been more relaxed and comfortable with training now in his second year on the team.

“His strength is just his stroke,” Bowser said. “He has a more unique style stroke, but his biggest strength is also his size. His reach is enormous.”

Kevin is not the only one on the team making waves, however.

Junior Matt Grubb is just milliseconds away from qualifying in the 100 breaststroke and about a second short of qualification in the 200 breaststroke. He swam in both events at last year’s NCAA’s.

The team’s medley relay, ranked eighth in the nation, can’t be overlooked either. Both, the 200 and 400 medley relay’s, are less than a second away from qualifying.

As for this past weekend, however, it was the first time in three years that the team hasn’t placed first at the meet.

When asked, Bowser simply attributed this to losing some swimmers since the beginning of the season for various reasons.

“The depth of our program has always been one of our strengths and when you lose four people, it hurts,” Bowser said. “That were key contributors. We lost by, I think, 200-some points. If we had those four, that’s our points right there.”

All in all, the result of this meet is nothing to worry for Bowser, as his team has plenty of talent and potential going forward.

“As a whole we raced better,” Bowser said. “I’m happy with where we are as whole.”

The team doesn’t hit the pool again until Jan. 19, when they will head to the Berkeley Aquatic Club in New Providence, New Jersey for the Stevens Invitational with Johns Hopkins University and Swarthmore College.

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