Abigail Brous broke her personal record – but the race meant more than that

Abigail Brous swims back stroke in a meet this year. Photo/ Rowan Athletics.

On the day where Rowan Women’s Swimming and Diving program celebrated the seniors’ last home meet of their career, dominating the U.S. Merchant Naval Academy (USMMA) 238-62, swimmers had every reason to be emotional. 

Photos from the meet show seniors expressing cheers, satisfaction and joy before, during and at the end of the meet. 

But the most interesting photo of the night featured junior Abigail Brous. 

The photograph captured Brous overwhelmed with emotions after finishing her event. 

When Brous looked back to the image she reacted jokingly and light hearted.

Abigail Brous has an emotional moment with her family looking on. She had just broken her personal record in the 100 meter backstroke but the moment held more emotion than that. Dyone Payne/ Multimedia Editor 

“Well, it’s an ugly photo,” Brous said. 

The moment was bigger than her personal record though. It wasn’t because it was her last time swimming with the seniors. It was more special than that. 

Brous was told earlier that day her grandfather would be there to support her. 

“My grandfather that lives with us has Alzheimer’s, and he is getting really, really bad. He is in the late stages of [the disease], he doesn’t remember us. He has good moments and really bad moments,” Brous said. 

With the presence of her grandfather, sporting a Rowan shirt in his wheelchair with other family members, Brous was extra motivated and it paid off with a career night. 

When it was her time to shine, she didn’t disappoint. With her family’s eyes on her, she seized the opportunity. 

“I went into the event very nervous, ‘cause you know, you want to do something nice when the family members you care about are here and you want to get a good time,” Brous said. 

In Brous’ individual 100 backstroke race, she touched first with a career-best 58.88 seconds, five seconds ahead of freshmen teammate Dahlia Getsos.  

“I had finished five seconds before the other people, so it was a crazy time for me to finish with, and I looked over and I saw my grandfather sitting there and just seeing him there made me bawl my eyes out,” Brous said.

With confused faces, the swimmers informed Brous that she had just won first place in the 100 individual race, and to not cry and enjoy the moment. 

When she told them the significance of the situation, the swimmers of the U.S. Marine Naval Academy she was competing against quickly crossed over to her lane to congratulate her and offer their comfort with hugs.  

When she headed over to her team’s side, Brous’ teammates seemed more excited about the performance than herself.   

Detailing the situation, her team showered her with hugs and words of encouragement. 

“Having the support from people I barely even know was amazing. And when I went over to my teammate every one surrounded me and embraced the moment with me,” Brous said. 

Choked up, she described the interaction with her family and grandfather. 

“It was weird, because he didn’t really know what had just happened. But at the end of my race when I had seen him I had yelled to my mom and said ‘That one was for pops!’ and my mom started crying and he just did his little sad smile, it was very heartfelt,” Brous said. 

Brous also powered the 200 medley relay along with Seniors Megan Miller, Daria Mnich and freshman Jordan McChesney with a time of 1:49.73.

In her last race, the 50m free, Brous ended in second place with 25.17 seconds. 

Although Brous understands the condition prevents her grandfather from being aware of her race, she certainly knows she made him proud by dedicating an impressive victory to him.  

This moment will undoubtedly highlight one of her best moments as a Prof.

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