Rowan Women’s Swimming drops first NJAC dual meet of the season

Bella Stefanowicz competes during a meet. Stefanowicz returned for this season against Kean. - Photo / Rowan Athletics

This past Friday, Oct. 29, Rowan women’s swimming fell to their first New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) opponent, Kean University, 148-114.

Rowan came in 0-1 after their loss to New York University (NYU) meanwhile Kean, who started their season on Oct. 8, was 3-0 before the contest.

The reigning NJAC Rookie of the Year, Bella Stefanowicz, swam in her first meet of the season. In the 100-yard breaststroke, Stefanowicz placed second with a time of 1:13.12. 

“That was great, I felt very accomplished after I out-touched that other girl from Kean [Krisztina Balogh],“ Stefanowicz said. “The 100 breaststroke isn’t usually my best event, but being that I’m still there and I’m at least second right now, hopefully, first in the future, is a really good start for me.”

Her role on the pool deck is just as important as her place in the pool as Coach Fisher spoke about how Stefanowicz is one of the many loud supporters on this team.

“She is really in tune with what’s going on in the water, so she’s seeing what people are doing,” Coach Fisher said. “The vocal leadership is something invaluable to the program.”

In the 1000-yard freestyle, sophomore Emma Padros touched the wall first with an 11:13.50 time.

“It was very rewarding,” Padros said. “I’ve been putting in a lot of work to get back to where I was last season, so it was very relieving to see all that hard work pay off in the pool.” 

Padros was also victorious in the 500 free, clocking in a time of 5:26.95 seconds. Kean’s Taylor Jacobson touched the wall .16 seconds after Padros. 

“I’m always pushing myself, to either stay with my competition or be ahead of them,” Padros said. “So I really try to focus on my own swimming but at the same time, being aware of others that are around me.”

When asked about the sophomore’s performance, Coach Fisher emphasized Padros’ determination.

“[She] stepped up in the distance events and knows what she needs to do in practice a little bit more and is willing to teeter on the line of failure,” Coach Fisher said. “She’s willing to take risks, so that’s really cool to see.” 

Freshman Ella Pennington had another fantastic meet, winning the 100-yard backstroke (59.08 seconds), the 200-yard backstroke (2:08.74 seconds), and the 200 individual medley (2:14.77 seconds). 

Before the 200 backstroke, a chorus of “Ella” chants began, with the men’s swimming team leading the way. Against NYU, Pennington was 1.34 seconds from breaking the school record in the event. 

Pennington knew there was a race to swim, but also acknowledged the support.

“That’s part of the encouraging vibe,” Pennington said. “I kinda clocked it afterwards – I was like hang on a second. It was fun.”

Fisher was proud of her team’s competitiveness especially given that Kean does not have a men’s program.

“There were a lot of swimmers that had back-to-back events or only one event in between which is ultra-challenging,” Coach Fisher said. “Even more when there’s no men at the meet because there’s not that extra two- five minutes rest.”

The Profs battle Montclair State University, another NJAC team, this Saturday, Nov. 5, at noon. Against Montclair State, Rowan is 13-1-1. Their most previous meet, resulted in a 150-150 tie last year. Montclair is 2-1 overall and 1-0 when facing NJAC opponents. 

“I have started looking into what Montclair has been going this season, my hope always is that my team is healthy and that we can be healthy for Saturday,” Coach Fisher said. “It’s tough this time of the year, being in and out of the water, but I think primarily what did we learn from Kean and can we apply those things come Saturday.”

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