Latrobe grad Sowinski setting records at West Point
Former Latrobe swimming standout Monica Sowinski is off to a record-breaking start as a freshman on the Army West Point women's team.
Sowinski, 18, set academy and plebe records in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1 minute, 49.99 seconds in finishing fifth against Navy last month.
Sowinski said it was “overwhelming” to face the Midshipmen in one of the most storied rivalries in college sports.
She also has broken a plebe record in the 100 freestyle (50.66 seconds) and an academy record as part of the 800 freestyle relay (7:29.59).
She helped the Black Knights to a 6-1 record going into their next meet Jan. 16 against Colgate and Lafayette.
Navy handed Army West Point its only loss.
Army West Point coach Mickey Wender expects Sowinski — the WPIAL Class AAA champion in the girls 200 freestyle in 2014 and a WPIAL and state finalist last year — to contend for the title in the 200 freestyle at the Patriot League championship meet at Navy next month.
“Monica's working hard and has come into her own in the last two weeks of training,” Wender said. “She started out with an elbow injury, (which) helped her develop her kick.
“She's coming along at a good time.”
Wender said Sowinski also shows promise in the 500 freestyle.
“She's a great racer,” he said.
Sowinski said she looks forward to competing at the league championship.
Sowinski said a desire to serve her country persuaded her to back out of a commitment to Kentucky and join the Black Knights, who were fifth of 10 teams at the league meet last season.
She said the discipline required of her as a competitive swimmer has helped her as a cadet.
“My training in swimming has (taught me) to be resilient,” she said.
Wender considers Sowinski well-rounded.
“She's been a leader as much as a freshman can be,” Wender said. “She's really good with her teammates.”
Sowinski has not declared a major, but said she plans to study something in one of the STEM fields of science, technology, engineering or math.
Karen Kadilak is a freelance writer.