Maybe Gophers coaches are onto something.
Bobby Jackson transferred from a community college in Nebraska and went on to lead the Gophers men’s basketball team to the Final Four. T.D. Rowe, a transfer from the same state, hasn’t enjoyed that level of success yet for Minnesota’s women’s swimming and diving team. But she’s certainly been impressive so far.
Anybody who follows diving in the Big Ten has been very aware of Rowe’s presence this year. A transfer from the University of Nebraska, Rowe has yet to lose for the Gophers and has already set a school record on the 3-meter springboard.
Records might be made to be broken, but Rowe easily eclipsed the school record on the 3-meter diving board at last weekend’s Gold Country Invitational. Rowe, who said she was feeling good on Saturday, dove for 572 points. The previous record was 528 points.
“It was exciting,” said assistant diving coach Ike Bjorklund. “T.D. did really well when she was on top of the competition, and the top of her diving.”
Rowe’s path to Minnesota was an interesting one. While she was in high school, Minnesota didn’t recruit her hard enough, so she went to Nebraska.
Two years later, after present diving coach Kongzheng Li had come to Minnesota, Rowe became unhappy at Nebraska. Her high school teammate, Andrea Berg, was a Gopher, so she decided to transfer.
“I knew the whole Minnesota team from high school, but when I got here, they were all done eligibility-wise,” Rowe said.
Although her results have certainly been impressive, her biggest challenge lies ahead, as Minnesota moves into the heart of its schedule next week. After competing at Penn State on Saturday, the Gophers will be traveling to Rowe’s former school on Jan 23-24. Nebraska has been ranked just ahead of No. 9 Minnesota all season.
Rowe’s work ethic has been impressive to most of the coaches. While many would consider training tedious, Rowe enjoys flipping, turning, and jumping off of things. She stays late and comes in early to work on her diving.
“I like to flip around,” Rowe said. “There’s a lot of satisfaction when you’re trying to do a dive for a long time, and you get it right.”
Unlike many athletes, who derive satisfaction from sports because they love the competition, Rowe seems to enjoy everything about her sport.
“She puts in more effort than is required of her,” Bjorklund said.
Aside from her obvious diving skill, Rowe’s personality has bridged a prevalent gap on most swimming and diving teams. Ordinarily, divers and swimmers are in two separate worlds because they compete in two very separate disciplines. But Rowe said she enjoys socializing with all of her team members, as well as with competitors.
“The two sports are nothing alike,” Rowe said. “There’s only a few divers. If I was only friends with them, I wouldn’t have many friends.”
Rowe’s contributions to the team are two-fold. She consistently puts points on the board, but she’s also a leader because of her ability to get along with almost everyone on the team.
Her presence has helped buoy the rest of the divers. Freshman Tracy LaVoi and junior Shelby Miller have consistently been finishing in the top five in the early-season meets.
“She’s just a good person,” head coach Jean Freeman said. “Everybody likes her, and she’s very well-rounded.”