Rookie sensation stars alongside brother

Freshman Zack Molloy has won the MAAC Swimmer of the Week honor twice this season.
Freshman Zack Molloy has won the MAAC Swimmer of the Week honor twice this season.

By Thomas Albano

Freshman swimmer Zack Molloy, who swims the fly and freestyle, has had an impressive first year as a Bronc. Although the men’s team is only 2-4, Molloy has twice been the recipient of the MAAC’s Swimmer of the Week award. At the meet against Seton Hall on Oct. 16, he set pool records in the 200- and 500-yard freestyle.

Some might say his talent runs in the family, as he is a part of one that is full of swimmers. An accounting major with a minor in math, Zack Molloy is the second youngest of six siblings. He has three older brothers — Michael, Brian, ’13, and Will, ’17, — as well as an older sister, Margaret, and a younger sister, Marianne.

Zack Molloy, however, said he was never forced into swimming; he just stuck with it growing up because he was talented.

“I started swimming when I was about 5 years old,” Zack Molloy said. “I was doing other sports, too, but I guess I just stuck with swimming because I was pretty good at it and my family had success in it, too.”

His brother Will is a sophomore on the men’s swimming team, and both he and Brian Molloy have been MAAC champions during the team’s three consecutive championship runs. Brian Molloy won in 2012 and 2013, while Will Molloy won as a part of last year’s team. Brian Molloy was also the 2012-13 Rider Male Athlete of the Year.

Michael and Margaret Molloy, who are both in their late 20s and out of college, were NCAA All-American swimmers at TCNJ.

Despite being in a family of swimmers, Zack Molloy admitted, with some chuckling, that there is not much competitiveness among the siblings.

“We’re not competitive [against each other] at all actually,” Zack Molloy said. “We mess around a little bit, but it’s not like any serious stuff.”

Head Coach Steve Fletcher says that each Molloy has something different to bring to the table.

“Brian was an individual conference champion in one event as a senior, William won an event as a freshman,” Fletcher said. “Both have been on record-setting relays, and Zack comes in with an opportunity to win all of his events in his freshman year based on his speed and talent. I think William is more experienced and knows what we expect [of him]. They’re at different points in their careers.”

Zack Molloy attended Toms River High School North, where he found success. There he competed in freestyle events, and was a four-year letterwinner and earned various championships and records. He was a state champion at both the 100- and 200-meter freestyle and a National YMCA champion, holding the record in the 200-meter freestyle. He also set meet records at the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association (NJSIAA)’s Meet of Champions event.

When it came time to pick a college, Zack Molloy had a number of big Division I programs coming after him, including Kentucky and Duke. He admitted his brothers and their success of conference titles and personal bests at Rider did have a little bit of influence on his choice in becoming a Bronc.

“I knew how the program was going to work, and I knew some people there already,” Zack Molloy said. “It seemed like an easy decision.”

Will Molloy also added that his younger brother made his choice because of the likelihood that other, bigger schools would have put more emphasis on his swimming over his education.

“I think he also wanted to focus more on school than swimming,” Will Molloy said. “At other schools, he’d be forced to focus more on swimming than also getting a degree. He knew I was doing well here. He knew what he was getting into here more than at any other school.”

For Fletcher, the main challenge when it comes to coaching siblings is that you cannot expect the same results from all.

“You don’t want to treat the younger sibling the same way, and expect them to be the same as their older sibling,” Fletcher said. “So, as a coach, the big challenge is finding out the uniqueness in that younger sibling, coaching them differently and not losing sight of the older sibling’s uniqueness. That I think is the challenge in coaching because it’s automatic to assume that they’re brothers so they’re the same. The fact is they’re not; they couldn’t be more different in terms of what they need to swim fast and how they approach the sport.”

For Will Molloy, it would mean a lot to win yet another MAAC title, especially one with his brother on the team.

“It felt good [to win last year],” Will Molloy said. “It meant all our hard work paid off and it made swimming more enjoyable knowing you’re winning something. It’d be pretty sweet to win [with Zack]. It’d bring back old times of us winning in high school.”

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