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Student Athlete of the Week - Rowan Lavigne

Looking back at her nearly-complete Niwot High School girls swim career, the relationships Rowan Lavigne has built come to the senior's mind almost immediately.

"Since freshman year, I've made my best friends on the team," Lavigne said. "I'm (grateful to) have my last season with them and everybody."

Lavigne has grown particularly close with a pair of fellow seniors who've joined her at the state championships the past three seasons, Julianna Strope and Stephanie Mow. Four years ago as freshmen swimmers, Lavigne and Strope bonded over experiencing the stress of qualifying for the 100-meter breaststroke.

"I really wanted to make the state cut in the 100 breaststroke," Lavigne said. "I remember at one of the big invites, the coaches' invite, I was swimming the 100 breaststroke in the prelims and I missed it by .01 (seconds). I was super, super defeated, and I was really sad. I was like, 'I'm not going to make it.'

"After winter break, I made the state cut and then my friend Julianna (Strope), she also was really close to making it, so we raced each other at the last meet and she made it. I had already made it, but she raced me and she made it too. It was really special to help her make it as well. We kind of both did it together."

Qualifying for state in the 100 breaststroke has since come easier. The two placed 17th and 18th, respectively, at last year's state meet - Strope was just .31 seconds quicker. Senior Jamieson Legh and junior Charlotte Heuer are another pair of state swimmers Lavigne has connected well with, she added.

Entering this season, Lavigne said Niwot's upperclassmen took it upon themselves to help new head coach Ella Thramann navigate her first year leading the team. Lavigne gave extra attention to freshmen swimmers and helped the program's transition run smoothly.

"We wanted to be helpful and not leave her (Thramann) to do it on her own," Lavigne said. "I just went about trying to help her with putting people in events and getting people into the swing of practice. We talked about organizing team dinners and organizing state stuff... Obviously she knew because she swam on the team for four years, but we showed her how things changed with our previous coaches. We integrated what she knew on the team when she was swimming (with) what we had learned in the past few years with a different coach. We mixed those together, and I think that that was a perfect mix."

Lavigne's final high school race comes soon, though, with the state championships set for Feb. 8-9. For the individual events, she has qualified for the 100 breaststroke, 200 IM, 50 freestyle and 100 freestyle. She will also get an opportunity to watch her younger sister, junior Reese Lavigne, compete in the medley relay.

"I've just watched her swimming progress throughout all the years that I've swam with her, specifically in high school," the elder Lavigne said. "I'm just excited to be going to state with her this year."

While Rowan Lavigne is optimistic about finishing strong, the sudden finitude of her Niwot career remains a difficult reality.

"I'm really sad that it's my last time swimming with all of my friends that I've had for four years and some of the people on the team I've known for my entire life," she said. "I wasn't expecting it to come up this quickly."


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