Sophomore diver aims high for Rutgers in sophomore season
In its previous outing on Nov. 6 and 7, the Rutgers swimming and diving team picked up victories against former Big East opponents Georgetown and Seton Hall. Meanwhile, the Scarlet Knights nearly earned a win against perennial Big East powerhouse Villanova in the same quad meet.
The team’s will to win was evident entering the competition while keeping in mind that the main focus is the Big Ten Championship at the conclusion of the season.
“Our big focus in on the end of the season,” said head coach Petra Martin. “That’s what we are catering everything toward to so, we want to win, but we’re not gonna change what we are doing from day to day in order to do that.”
Sophomore diver Addison Walkowiak had a tremendous outing in the quad meet at the Rutgers Aquatic Center on Busch campus. She won both the 1-meter and 3-meter dive events for the Knights.
Walkowiak’s score of 348.55 on the 3-meter dive set a new school record.
The Ballston Spa, New York, native nearly broke her own 1-meter dive record as well, falling a little over three points short with a score of 303.25. Walkowiak currently holds the program record of 306.90 for the 1-meter dive event, which she set last year as a freshman.
Walkowiak efforts earned her Big Ten Diver of the Week honors on Nov. 11. The award marks Walkowiak’s fifth weekly honor from the Big Ten Conference. She was also honored four times by the ECAC in her freshman season on the Banks.
Walkowiak said she feels the same level of satisfaction winning her most recent distinction from the Big Ten as the awards she has previously earned.
“Yeah, if not even more because last year, I was just getting freshman of the year, so I was only competing within the freshman class,” Walkowiak said. “But now, I’m Diver of the Week ... I’m competing with all of the divers of all classes, so it’s really great.”
After battling back from injuries, Walkowiak has witnessed her hard work pay off as she and her fellow swimmers and divers are off to a fast start to the year.
“It’s extremely rewarding,” Walkowiak said. “I’ve had a few injuries and so I’ve just tried to ween my way back into it and it feels really great because I’ve worked so hard to get to this point.”
Walkowiak said that sometimes her frustration creeped into her mind, especially during practice when she was fighting her ailments.
“It’s really extremely difficult,” she said. “Sometimes I get really frustrated at practice and yeah I don’t think it’s gonna be the same but within a couple of days, I’m usually back to where I was.”
Not surprisingly, Walkowiak’s favorite event to compete in is the one she broke the school record in during her last meet, the 3-meter dive event.
“My favorite event is definitely 3-meter,” Walkowiak said. “I think that I’m just more consistent on that and I’ve perfected my dives better on three meter that I have on any other board.”
Aside from working on her dives during practice sessions at the Rutgers Aquatic Center, Walkowiak works on numerous other aspects along with the rest of her team.
“Well, in the beginning of the practice, we do like a 30-minute warmup, which includes an active stretch,” Walkowiak said. “We do jogging to get our muscles warm, we do abs and ab workouts and we also go to lift two days a week so just to like strengthen our muscles and other than that, it’s just diving.”
Being from Ballston Spy — which is just a little more than three hours away from Piscataway by car — Walkowiak’s family makes the trip to see her compete often. The Walkowiaks will be trekking to Rutgers this weekend for the first time this season.
“Yeah, last year they came to almost all my meets, which was really great,” Walkowiak said. “I was so happy, I love seeing them. This year, they haven’t come yet, but I think they’re gonna come this weekend and I’m so excited to see them and have them supporting me.”
Having her family in the stands gives the sophomore diver a sense of confidence.
“Yeah, 100 percent,” Walkowiak said. “I love having them here and I just wanna show them like all the hard work that I’ve been doing is actually paying off. Yeah, I just want them to be proud of me."
Walkowiak already has a firm grasp on numerous school records and has quite a few awards to display and she is not even through her sophomore season yet.
Even after enjoying so much success, Walkowiak has a few more goals she has set her sights on for this season.
“Yeah definitely,” she said. “There’s always more goals. For diving-wise, I wanna try and either final at Big Tens or, you know, score points for the team and I also want to try and make NCAA’s again. It’s gonna be harder this year, but that’s a big goal for me."
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