By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After receiving All-American honors, qualifying for NCAA Championships his freshman and sophomore year, and setting pool and team records throughout his career, Sean Grier can add his most recent achievement of being named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week to the list.
The junior from Hummelstown, Pa., did not know he was going to be a swimmer right from the start. It was not until Grier was 11 years old that he made the decision to jump in the water and practice for the first time.
"When I was 11, one of my friends got me into it for something fun to do in the summer," Grier said. "I originally played hockey and I went with him and checked it out. From there, the coaches told me that I had natural talent and said you should try year-around swimming since winters are more competitive. It kind of took off from there."
Little did Grier know that listening to those coaches and sticking with the sport would lead to a collegiate career at Penn State. Grier had several options for what schools he could attend and represent their swim program, but when it came time to make the decision Penn State won him over.
"I looked at Ohio State, Tennessee, and University of Massachusetts," Grier said. "But the team here reminded me of my team at home. The bonds here made it seem like a brotherhood rather than just teammates and I felt like I belonged after my recruiting trip here."
Based on his experiences of traveling and watching other teams, Grier could not imagine competing for any team other than Penn State.
"Everyone here is so close," Grier said. "From what I've seen I feel like other teams aren't that close and they don't share the bond that we have."
Transitioning from club swimming into collegiate practices and meets two years ago, Grier noticed a change in the level of intensity he was expected to give every day.
"I had the same coach for high school and age group and I thought he did a really good job of training us," Grier said. "But when you come to the college level it's completely different and there's a whole new intensity. That was the hardest thing to get used to."
Grier has also taken advantage of having teammates there for him the moment he stepped on campus his freshman year and developing a strong connection with them that only student-athletes can experience.
"My favorite part of my career is just being able to be a part of something rather than being a regular student here and having that bond before anything else," Grier said. "Your teammates are your teammates from the start and that's been the best part."
For any athlete, the daily grind presents challenges both mentally and physically. Grier handles the mental side of swimming by staying focused on his goals and what he wants to achieve for that season.
"I think about where I want to be at the end of the season because as much as a set can suck, I tell myself that the coaches know what they are doing and it's all going to pay off at the end of the season," Grier said.
On race day, Grier changes his mentality to relaxing and having fun with the opportunities in front of him.
"I do whatever I need to do for that day," Grier said. "I always swim my best when I'm having fun and laughing behind the blocks, but when the whistle blows it's time to focus in."
With two meets already down, Grier says that he is on the right track to meet his goals not only for himself, but also for the team.
"For me, I think that's going well for how I've been training and doing at meets," Grier said. "This season will be successful if we reach our goals that we set at the beginning of the year. Being able to reach most of these goals includes placing at Big Tens, NCAA's, and at dual meets. It would also be nice if we could have an undefeated dual meet season."
Looking ahead, Grier is already excited for the championship meets at the end of the season and having the chance to represent Penn State on a national level.
"I don't want to skip over the rest of the season but this year we have one of the best teams that we've ever had and I'm hoping we can make a statement not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation as well," Grier said.
Last year Grier broke a 10-year old team record in the 100 butterfly. He also swam the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay that placed eighth nationally at NCAAs. This past week he has been named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week, which is voted on by members of the athletic department.
"I think it's cool to be recognized in this way because usually swimming isn't a sport that's always on top," Grier said.
Grier's performance at the meet against the Villanova contributed to being named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week where he broke a 13-year old pool record in the 100 Backstroke and he is now ranked second nationally on collegeswimming.com in this event.
"I know all of the pool records of the events I swim so every time I get in there I have something to strive for," Grier said. "Breaking this record means a lot for right now and for where we are in the season. It's a good sign that I can get up and swim that fast at this point of the year. For the short term, I think it's a pretty good achievement."
Men's Swimming: A Look Into Grier's Career
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
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