Montclair State University’s women’s swimming and diving team landed a talented swimmer from the U.S. Virgin Islands, freshman Lidia Bogusławska, who traveled 1,691 miles just to attend Montclair State.
Bogusławska grew up on the island for most of her life, attending Good Hope Country Day School in St. Croix. This was her school from kindergarten up to her senior year of high school. The school became the place that her passion for swimming grew with the help of former high school coach Brian Brady.
“My high school coach Brian Brady has made a really big impact [on me],” Bogusławska said. “He pushed me to continue swimming in college and swim in New Jersey.”
Brady is friendly with Montclair State swimming and diving head coach Brian McLaughlin, as they have stayed in touch from way back when Brady was swimming at Rider University. He is from Ocean City, New Jersey, which is why he pushed Bogusławska to come to compete around the area.
“A lot of his swimmers over the years ended up going to schools in the Northeast,” McLaughlin said. “Rider being one of them. Bryant [University] was another and finally Montclair State.”
Recently, McLaughlin has brought the swimming team to St. Croix for out-of-season training, specifically taking place at the same school Bogusławska attended, being that Good Hope Country Day School is home to the only 50-meter pool on the entire island.
The out-of-season training trips are common for a lot of swimming schools across the northeast region. The trips serve as a nice break from the cold weather and are an opportunity to swim in nicer weather outdoors. Over the years, McLaughlin has enjoyed taking the team there, which is where Bogusławska and Montclair State first crossed paths.
“Everybody is pretty friendly on the island, so we try to reciprocate that and be good friends when we are there,” McLaughlin said. “So a natural relationship developed.”
When Bogusławska decided to commit to Montclair State, she was leaving a school she attended since she was in kindergarten. To her though, the adjustment was not that bad.
“I was ready for college,” Bogusławska said. “I had [traveled away] from the islands a couple times prior, so the adjustment was pretty easy. I didn’t really know anyone when I got to Montclair State at first. That was the same for a lot of the freshman swimmers. So I became friends with a lot of them and the rest of the team.”
The team loves Bogusławska as well, and not just for the impact she has made in the water, but also the energy she brings to practice and in the locker room.
Junior freestyle/backstroke swimmer Taylor Waddleton is one of the leaders on this Red Hawks team and enjoys what Bogusławska brings as a freshman.
“She’s a great person to train with and just been motivating with,” Waddleton said. “I’m really excited to see what she can do moving forward with the depth of our team next. Especially when things get normal again and we have a regular season.”
In just a two-week season this year, Bogusławska has won Rookie of the Week for the New Jersey Athletic Conference twice. Bogusławska has competed in big competitions throughout high school, so the college meets did not affect her mentally in a negative way.
“I would say it is because I have been to a lot of big meets,” Bogusławska said. “I’ve learned to just have fun with. Once you start psyching yourself out then it doesn’t become fun anymore.”
In 11 races, Bogusławska has taken home six first-place finishes. She also has four second-place finishes and one third-place. In her first season with the team, Bogusławska has led the women’s team in races won. This was no surprise to her either, as she had high expectations for herself coming in.
“My goal was to make it onto the record board in my freshman year, but obviously we haven’t had enough meets for that,” Bogusławska said. “I really want to win.”
That mindset is what brought Bogusławska to Montclair State and is what is going to help her achieve those records she strives for. Her coaches know and tournaments have shown how good she is and how much she helps this team moving forward.
With the pandemic still around, Montclair State has paused any more trips in the near future to St. Croix. However, the training will not stop for Bogusławska and the Red Hawks as they swim year-round. This not only helps Bogusławska grow as a swimmer, but brings the team to new heights.
“We try to preach year-round swimming and we think she has bought into that,” McLaughlin said. “She has high goals and we do not discourage that. She has represented the island in international meets and we want to help her continue to do that the best we can. She has only scratched the surface of what she can do in the future.”