On Saturday, Jan. 22, Rowan women’s swimming and diving took on The College of New Jersey (TCNJ) in Glassboro for the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Championship. In one of the most important meets of their season, the Profs came out victorious, defeating the Lions 157-139 to claim their fourteenth NJAC title.
Head Coach Elise Blaschke expressed her happiness with the team and what they accomplished.
“This was a NJAC championship title that I certainly will never forget, especially coming off last year of no competition,” Coach Blaschke said. “[With] a smaller roster size, it took a lot of preparation and manipulating our roster so that we could really maximize individual events. But I can say that the team was absolutely incredible and truly exceeded my biggest hope for them and all my expectations. It was incredible.”
Graduate student Veronica Alferez had a season’s best when she won the 200-yard freestyle event with a time of 1:57.99. She also won the 500-yard freestyle with a time of 5:19.28. Her performance on Saturday earned her the NJAC Swimmer of the Week award.
Captain Jordan McChesney, a junior had two season-best performances, first in the 50-yard freestyle with a time of 24.18 seconds and then in the 100-yard freestyle with a 52.80. Over the last two meets, McChesney has been on a hot streak, winning three individual events. She seems confident in herself and her team’s momentum for the remainder of the season.
“I mean, at this point, we have four weeks left,” McChesney said. “So it’s the homestretch… you can’t not be excited for that. I think we’re just going to build off that energy. I think we’re just going to go straight from there and keep that moving forward. And if we continue to do that, we continue to put the effort in that we’ve been putting in, I see nothing but success moving forward.”
Alferez and McChesney joined Captain Kylie Salerno, a senior, and freshman Elizabeth Jones in the 400-yard freestyle relay. They recorded yet another season-best with a time of 3:38.96.
Fellow freshmen Emma Padros and Bella Stefanowicz added on to the season-bests by recording two of their own, as well as both winning one individual event each. Stefanowicz was also named the NJAC Rookie of the Week.
“That also feels surreal,” Stefanowicz said. “I can’t even begin to process what that means. I feel so honored. I think that my performance showed and it was a really good time.”
The journey to this championship was hard-fought with some bumps along the way. The Ramapo College meet was moved from Nov. 13 to Jan. 13 and the Tri Meet against Worcester Polytechnic Institute and Swarthmore College was canceled due to health and safety protocols. The schedule changes didn’t derail the Prof’s season though, according to Coach Blaschke.
“The adjustment to the set schedule definitely was an adjustment in terms of how we were going to train that week,” Blaschke said. “I think having Ramapo during the week was helpful just to get in racing, instead of having to do something like a lactate set for practice. But overall, it wasn’t anything that our team wasn’t prepared for.”
Stefanowicz backed up her coach’s statement of not being fazed by the changes and how she was ready for TCNJ.
“I mentally prepared by sleeping and I physically prepared in the pool,” Stefanowicz said. “I just got so excited and hyper and all my adrenaline was just rushing, so I didn’t feel anything.”
The regular season finale will be Saturday, Feb. 5, at Rowan against the United States Merchant Marines Academy, which also means that this will be the seniors’ last home meet.
“I think we’re going to use our senior meet as an opportunity for, obviously, our senior class to have a final race here in the Tony Lisa Natatorium,” Coach Blaschke said. “[And] also use that meet as our final opportunity to practice race strategy leading into [the Metropolitan Conference Championships].”
The Profs have about three weeks to prepare for the four-day-long Metropolitan Conference Championships on Feb. 17, but they have to get through their final home meet of the season first.
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