Senior diver Rowe is captain, mentor for women’s swim team

David La

The No. 12-ranked Gophers Women’s Swimming and Diving team heads to North Carolina Friday to kick off the 1998-1999 season.
Leading the way is co-captain T.D. Rowe, a senior who not only understands her role as a diver, but also as a mentor.
Rowe, who’s first name is Taradee, began her college diving career at Nebraska. As a freshman, she placed second in the 1- and 3-meter springboard events at the 1996 Big Eight Championships. As a sophomore, Rowe finished fifth on both boards at the 1997 Big 12 meet.
Although she had two standout seasons behind her, Rowe’s career wasn’t progressing the way she liked. Disagreements with the Nebraska coaching staff ultimately sent her looking to transfer to another program.
Minnesota diving coach Kongzheng Li, who first met Rowe at an All-Star Invitational in Orlando, Fla., called Rowe immediately upon hearing of her desire to transfer.
“To build up a solid program, you need good freshmen, but you also need someone with experience to lead them,” Li said. “T.D. was that person”.
For Rowe, the jump to Minnesota was a logical one.
“I had been there before for diving meets, and (the Aquatic Center) is a great facility,” she said. “I was friends with divers here, so I figured it would be a good transition”.
Last season was Rowe’s first as a Gophers diver, and it was a successful one. She won Big Ten titles in the 1- and 3-meter board events and advanced to the NCAA championships.
As a co-captain and a senior, Rowe defines her role as a “caretaker” for her teammates.
“I try to be there for them, try to relate to them,” Rowe said. “Some freshmen have it harder than others when they come to college, and my message is always, `It will get easier.'”
Freeman is encited about this weekend’s meet with South Carolina, No. 16 North Carolina and No. 7 Michigan, saying the strong competition will give the Gophers some valuable early-season experience.
“We have a strong team this year,”Freeman said, “but T.D. is leading the group.”