Alumnus honored at NJ swimming championships

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Andrew Maier ('20)

At East, Gilooly was the dominant freestyle swimmer on the Boys’ Swim Team.

East swim team alumnus Kevin Gillooly (‘17) continues to soak in victory after he helped propel Rowan to a first-place win at the New Jersey Athletic Conference championship swim meet that took place Saturday, January 25.

At the NJAC competition, Gillooly, now a junior at Rowan, swam in several events. He finished first in all of his three individual events, the 100-yard backstroke, the 50-yard freestyle and the 200-yard backstroke. Gillooly’s times for the individual events were 51.21 seconds, 21.23 seconds and 1:51.97.

“I was definitely happy with those times because those are probably my best dual meet times this season,” said Gillooly.

Gillooly’s performance earned him recognition as the NJAC Swimmer of the Week. He has been named Swimmer of the Week several times this season. In addition to individual events, Gillooly swam the first leg of the 200-yard medley relay, which consisted of four swimmers per team, each swimming a different stroke including the backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle. Gillooly’s performance helped Rowan take the NJAC championship title away from last year’s front runner, The College of New Jersey, which Gillooly said is Rowan’s toughest rival in
men’s swimming.

“It was a really exciting meet to go into their home pool… and to be crowned the regular season NJAC champions. It was a really special day,” said Gillooly.

To prepare for the meet, the Rowan team has been training since September. Gillooly said that the team has eight practices each week in the pool and three training sessions in the weight room.

Gillooly said, “It’s definitely worth it when you’re there with your team. It comes to a point where the practices are really hard and everything is tough, but it doesn’t even really feel like hard work when you’re there with your best friends every single day.”

Rowan’s next meet, the Metropolitan Championship Meet, took place in late February and was a three-day-long competition. Unlike the NJAC dual meet involving two teams, the
three-day event involves 10-to-15 teams with approximately 80 swimmers participating in each event.

Gillooly explained that “every year the goal has changed.” He said, “It definitely feels good to get the NJAC awards, and I have my sights focused on some national level awards now as well.”

Although his team trains from September through March, Gillooly has been training all summer, hoping to qualify to compete at the NCAA Division III championship held in late March. He said that members of 50 to 70 teams are invited to participate in the tournament based on their swimming times and that the fastest 16 to 20 swimmers in the country get invited to each event. He participated last year and is hoping to make a repeat appearance.

Gillooly credits Coach Mr. Joe Cucinotti with much of his current success. He said that Cucinotti was instrumental in guiding him through pressure situations, keeping up his motivation and helping him find a college that was a good fit for his swimming.

Although he grew up swimming at Barclay Farm Swim Club, Gillooly got more serious about swimming the summer before his senior year at East. He remembers a playoff meet his senior year when East came together to win.

“It really motivated me to step up for the team and put in some fast swims,” he said.

During the summer, Gillooly coaches the Barclay Farms swim team. Coaching helps him understand his own coach’s perspective and also gives him a strong sense of achievement when his swimmers do well.

“It’s really rewarding to see the smile on their face when they get out of the pool,” Gillooly said.