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Nittany Lions Jump to No. 16 in Rankings, Reflect On Weekend

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8609624.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "There is still a difference between winning and coming in second," head coach Tim Murphy said; reflecting on the Nittany Lion's tri-meet this past weekend against Michigan and Virginia.

Both the men and women toppled the Cavaliers, but fell to the Wolverines. For the women's team, who was undefeated coming into the competition, it was a fight to the finish, ending with a tough three-point loss.

"I think how close the meet was, especially on the women's side with Michigan, needs to burn a little bit," Murphy said. "We have to go back to work, use it for momentum and keep the ball rolling,"

Coming into the weekend, the Nittany Lions were prepared to have to dig deep and hold off some tough competition. Prior to the tri-meet, the Michigan men were ranked first in the nation and the women were sixth.

"We knew they're both good teams and where they were ranked, how they did last season and we knew it was going to be a hearty task," Murphy said. "In a lot of areas we showed our ability to handle that and be up for that and in some areas we exceeded expectations."


College Swimming released this week's rankings with the Nittany Lions improving to No. 16 in both the men's and women's polls.  Prior to the tri-meet the men were ranked No. 18 and the women were ranked No. 20.

"Some people are just starting to show things and show a level of swimming boldy and not worrying about who it is but just flat out being competitive." Murphy said.  "Those are two things we need to work on: being bold-having high expectations for ourselves and learning to be more competitive."

The Nittany Lions head to the Georgia Fall Invitational next for a mid-season meet.  Competition kicks off on Dec. 5, which gives the team a little under a month to focus on training.

"Our main challenge is going to be what we do in practice," Murphy said.  "It's going to be more so how are we preparing ourselves, how are we challenging ourselves and just being flat out competitive. It's not easy. It requires coming in here with a different level of intensity. It's all about what goes down in the pool." 

While in Georgia, the Nittany Lions can expect top-notch competition; not only with other teams, but between teammates.  

"Georgia is trials and finals meet," Murphy explained.  "It's when we are really going to start putting our Big Ten team together. It's also sort of last real good test, we're going to be up against some strong teams to sort of figure out what we need to do on the home stretch."

Following the invitational, the Nittany Lions will have a few weeks back in Happy Valley and at home before heading to Florida for their annual training trip.  While in Naples, the team will face a tough training schedule of two-a-day practices and lifting sessions to gear up for the final months of their season.

When they return, the Nittany Lions will kick off 2015 in New Brunswick for a tri-meet against Rutgers and Yale.  The next home meet is scheduled for Jan. 24 against Navy at 11 a.m.

Pink Meet a Success, In and Out of the Pool

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8600863.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swimming and diving teams swapped their traditional blue and white uniforms for pink caps and t-shirts in their meet against Villanova Friday afternoon.  The Nittany Lions held their annual "pink meet" to support breast cancer awareness.  

For senior captain Caitlyn Karr, the pink meet is more than just a change in shirt color.

"It means a lot to some team members, myself included, who have lost family members to breast cancer," Karr explained. "It really makes you dig deep down for that extra push to do well."

The Nittany Lions defeated the Wildcats on both the men's and women's sides.  The men's team improved to a 4-1 season; while the women's squad remained undefeated in dual meets and hold a 7-0 record. 

Sophomore Anna Farnsworth believes part of the women's team success comes from the tremendous team chemistry this season.

"You know that you always have someone behind you when you race," Farnsworth explained. "You're racing for a reason.  It's not about yourself, with how close we are this season, we all want to swim well for the team." 

Farnsworth won her first collegiate event against the Wildcats, posting an in-season best time in the 100 backstroke. 

"Of course it was exciting," Farnsworth said. "But I went into it very relaxed.  I raced the same people I compete with in practice all the time.  It's always great to win, and it was definitely a step forward."

Senior captain Caitlyn Karr also ended the meet victorious with wins in the 100 breaststroke and 500 freestyle.

"This meet was only my second time swimming the 500 this season," Karr explained. "I swam it last week and my goal was to build off of how I swam against West Virginia and improve.  I think I did that, and I'm pretty happy with where I'm at right now."

Looking ahead, the Nittany Lions toughest competition is yet to come.  They host Michigan and Virginia for a two-day tri-meet this weekend.

"Staying focused is going to be key," Farnsworth said. "Our past victories have given us confidence but we need to stay steady and stay strong.  If we keep practicing how we've been practicing and focus, it should be a great meet."

"We haven't swam them in a dual meet recently," Karr added. "They definitely have some really fast swimmers.  But it's like any other meet.  We're going to be tired and broken down but we need to push through it.  It's going to be a great test, they're top notch teams."

Virginia is currently undefeated with a 1-0 record, while Michigan is 4-1 with a loss to Texas.   The meet is set to begin Friday at 6 p.m. and Saturday at 11 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium. 

Get to Know Diver and Aspiring Engineer, T.J. Schenkel

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8693605.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I feel proud that I'm representing Penn State in a different light than the majority of students," diver T.J. Schenkel explained.

During the 2013-'14 season, Schenkel was the top diver for the men, posting personal bests in both the 1 meter and 3 meter events.


In addition to spending hours at the pool each day, Schenkel is working towards a degree in energy engineering.

"It's pretty difficult, I have an extra 20 hours of things to do compared to most of my classmates," Schenkel said. "I pretty much have to get all my work done before 12:30 and practice."

When it comes to practicing, Schenkel has seen a change since his freshman year.  The turnover in coaching staff at the beginning of the 2013-'14 season brought a change in training.

"The training is definitely more intense," Schenkel explained. "It's not spending more time at the pool necessarily, but the time that is spent there practicing is more challenging- we went from three morning practices a week to six."


Schenkel especially has noticed a change in training this season. 

"The coaches have really hit their groove, and are pushing to take the program in the direction they saw fit from the beginning," Schenkel said. "It's different from last year, but it's definitely a positive."

Practices can consist of weight training, water training, or at times trampoline training to learn new dives.  

"Diving is all about staying consistent," Schenkel explained. "It's a lot drills and perfecting the basics.  The best way to do that is repetition- dives are built on the easy stuff."

Beginning at six, Schenkel has been diving for more than a decade.

"My mom wanted me to join the swim team," Schenkel said with a laugh. "But I said 'No, I'm joining the diving team.' We still to this day have no idea how I found out about diving but here I am."

Schenkel is the only senior diver on the men's team, and is looking forward to ending his final season on a high note.

"The toughest competition is definitely coming up," Schenkel said. "Michigan and UVa. are both great teams, I'm looking forward to that meet."

Schenkel is also looking ahead to Big Tens.  Last year, Schenkel finished 14th at the Big Ten Championships in the 3 meter and is looking to place again this year. 

"I'm really working towards scoring more points at Big Tens," Schenkel explained. "Last year I was the first diver to score in about five years, so I would really like to come back and place higher this year."

Although his collegiate career will come to a close in 2015, Schenkel plans to continue to dive.

"There's a big masters program," Schenkel said. "That kind of alleviates the grieving process of ending my career as a Nittany Lion. I'm definitely not ready to be finished with diving any time soon."


Catch Schenkel and the rest of the Nittany Lions on Friday as they take on the Villanova Wildcats in McCoy Natatorium at 3 p.m. 

Nittany Lions Take on Back-to-Back Travel Meets

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9423877.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lions are making a quick turnaround from the Virginia Tech Challenge this past weekend as they look ahead to another road competition.

The women returned home victorious, toppling Virginia Tech, Old Dominion, Liberty and James Madison. The men fell to the Hokies, but defeated Old Dominion. This was the first away meet of the season, and it followed the season opening win for both the men and women against Georgia Tech.

Following the trip to Virginia Tech, the Nittany Lions are travel to Morgantown, West Virginia, to take on the Mountaineers in a Thursday evening match-up this week.


"We've got recruits coming this weekend, and it's our last weekend for recruiting for the season," explained head coach Tim Murphy. "We had to move the West Virginia meet up so we could get back, get some training in and be ready to host."

The Nittany Lions have a strong record against the Mountaineers. The women have been undefeated against West Virginia for the past decade, while the men have been victorious in their past three meetings with the Mountaineers.

The biggest challenge for Penn State will be adjusting from back to back travel meets in a short span of time.

"It's definitely going to be hard on our bodies," senior Carolyn Fittin said. "But we know how to race and I think we will be ready to go once we get there."

Fittin had a strong performance at the Virginia Tech Challenge, posting a win in 50-yard freestyle and contributing to first place finishes in the 200 medley relay and 200 freestyle relay.

"I think we had some really great swims this past weekend," said Fittin. "But, we definitely have some things to work on as a team in order to keep getting better."

This is an important part of the season for the Nittany Lions in terms of training. Between building endurance in the pool and lifting, they are focusing on the bigger picture-- their mid season meet in December and championship meet in February. Each dual meet represents an opportunity to race and improve under tough training.

Looking towards Thursday in Morgantown, Fittin shared some goals for the women's team.

"Some of us are going to be swimming off events," Fittin said. "We really have to focus on ignoring how tired we may be from a long week of traveling and get into racing, regardless of whether or not we're swimming one of our main events."

Following their meet against West Virginia, Penn State will have a week before Villanova visits Happy Valley. The Nittany Lions will host the Wildcats on the 31 at 3 p.m. for a Halloween match-up in McCoy Natatorium.

Meet Nittany Lion Local, Anna Farnsworth

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By Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - "I've never lived anywhere else," sophomore Anna Farnsworth explained.

10431763.jpegThe State College native is studying health policy and administration on the University Park campus and comes from a family of Nittany Lions.

"My parents went here, my bothers went here, and it's such a great school," Farnsworth said.

Although Farnsworth grew up minutes from the University, she explained that Penn State and State College have a symbiotic relationship.

"I mean it has that small town feel," Farnsworth said. "But at the same time, you have all the students from the university and people on game weekends."


While State College at times is considered the third largest city in Pennsylvania on football game weekends, Farnsworth explained that while Penn State plays a local role, State College has its own culture away from the university. 

"I remember growing up when people would move here and the first thing they would notice is how big sports are in State College," said Farnsworth.  "Even playing soccer at young age, the theme around here is to pick a sport and 'get good.'"  

But it wasn't until high school that Farnsworth began swimming year-round.

"I played soccer and basketball through elementary and middle school, but in eight grade I tore my ACL. I couldn't get surgery at that point so swimming was how I stayed active," said Farnsworth.


Farnsworth found quickly that it was something she loved.

"I always knew I wanted to play a sport in college, and with swimming everything just came together," Farnsworth said.

Specializing in backstroke, Farnsworth has contributed to the Nittany Lions' success since she arrived as a freshman.  Last year she posted personal bests at the Big Ten Championships in the 100 and 200 backstroke.


One of the perks of being a few miles from home means always having a cheering section at home meets and spending time with family on the weekends.

"I'm spoiled a little when it comes to my mom bringing me groceries," Farnsworth said with a laugh. "I do try to go home and catch up with them.  But at the same time, I feel like I need to foster my independence."

Although she's spent her life in State College, being a student at Penn State is a different experience entirely. 

"I think people take for granted 'townies'," Farnsworth said.  "People think we know all the loopholes with college.  Really, this is a whole new setting for me. I just have the convenience of being five minutes away." 

Catch Farnsworth and the rest of the Nittany Lions in their next home meet on Oct. 31 as they take on Villanova in McCoy Natatorium at 5 p.m. 

Nittany Lions Defeat Georgia Tech in Season Opener

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10401366.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After weeks of preparation and practice, the Nittany Lions were able to put their hard work to the test in a meet against Georgia Tech on Friday. Both the men and women toppled the Yellow Jackets in the 2014-'15 season opener. The women finished with a score of 170-119, and the men had a 160.5-137.5 victory.

Flanked by multi-event winners and strong swimming on both the men's and women's side, the Nittany Lions improved their all time record against Georgia Tech to 2-0.

For the men, one of the most notable swims came early in the meet from freshman David Gross in the 1,000-yard freestyle.

"I was really happy with that swim, especially for this early in the year," Gross said. "But there's always room for improvement and that's what the rest of the season's going to be about. I have never swam the 1,000 and the 500 in the same day before, that was tough."

Head coach Tim Murphy was also pleased with Gross's performance.

"It's always interesting to watch freshmen," Murphy explained. "He put himself out there. It was a very bold swim. I've got no problem with someone putting themselves out there, we need to get better at being bold and doing that."

Another bold, standout swim came from the women's team with junior Haley Sinatro. Coming off an "in-season" best time and second place finish in the 100 breaststroke, Sinatro won the 200 individual medley.

"It was my best in season time by far and think the hard work I'm putting in the pool is really showing up, same with some other people on the team," Sinatro said. "It's a pretty early snapshot of what we've done so far and a lot of people are happy with today. But there is also a lot of work to be done as we move onto our next meet."

With two weeks of training until their next competition, the Nittany Lions have of time to make some changes before they race. Last year the team broke a combined 20 records and finished in the top 20 at NCAA championships for both men and women.

"This meet was a good wake up call for all of us," said Murphy. "We saw where we're at, what's showing up and what's not showing up. As always, we have a tremendous amount of work to do."

Current work goals include more racing in practice as well as technique work. The team recently broke up into their respective training groups, which caters to different swimmers and their events.

"We're tired and beat up, but skill wise, we've got to take it up a few notches if we expect to get better," Murphy said. "But it's only early October, we've got a long road ahead of us."

The Nittany Lions take on Virginia Tech on October 18 in Blacksburg.

Blue and White Swim Meet Strengthens Team Unity

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9745537.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Split into two teams, Blue and White, the Nittany Lions had the opportunity to race at their annual intra-squad meet on Friday. Swimmers and divers were able to see how they stack up against their teammates as well as strengthen team camaraderie.


The meet also gave head coach Tim Murphy, diving coach Dennis Ceppa and assistant coaches Steve Barnes, Doak Finch and Liz McMillan an opportunity to gauge where their swimmers and divers stand early in the season. With nontraditional distances, the meet was geared towards team unity and wrapped up with a tailgate in the natatorium with friends, family and fans.

For Murphy, he gave the team three things to focus on: their teammates, being competitive and race preparation.

"Competitively, we saw some good races," Murphy said. "We saw some spunk from the younger group, but we still have work to do. Overall, I think they did a good job."


The Blue and White meet typically takes place further into the year, but with an earlier meet schedule in 2014, the Nittany Lions were ready to race.

"I think it was a great experience for our first meet, we really saw how we fit as one team and it was great to race each other this early on," said junior Kaitlin Jones. "We definitely were able to see how in and out of shape we are."


For senior captain, Nate Savoy, the Blue and White meet marked the beginning of his final season.

"Time has gone by fast," Savoy said. "But I'm excited to get my last season started and it was really good to have an opportunity to race this early in the year."


When asked about his thoughts on the overall meet, Savoy responded with enthusiasm.

"I was really proud of how much energy and effort the team brought to the table," said Savoy. "I'm excited to see this team grow over the upcoming months."


The strong team dynamic was evident to fans when the team lined the pool deck following the final relay to lead fans in a singing of the Alma Mater. The team then gathered in for a final "We Are! Penn State!" cheer before warming down.

With three weeks until their first official meet, coach Murphy is planning how the team will prepare for Georgia Tech.

"We'll be doing more racing in practice," Murphy said. "We have to keep pushing the envelope but I think they are in a good place for now."


The newly-installed endless pool system will also help the team prepare to take on the Yellow Jackets. Endless pools are much shorter than competition pools and use propellers to generate currents. The currents prevent the swimmer from reaching the end of the pool and can be adjusted based on skill level.

For the Nittany Lions, the new addition to the pool deck will allow coaches to break down stroke mechanics and correct technique.

"The current really lets them feel what they're doing," Murphy said. "They're so used to just going up and down the pool, it's a great tool."


While there are a few tweaks to be made, Murphy and his coaching staff are excited to get it up and running in the near future. But for now, it's business as usual for the swimmers and divers as they look towards their next opportunity to compete.

Catch the Nittany Lions in action on Friday, Oct. 3 at McCoy Natatorium as they kick off the official 2014-'15 season against Georgia Tech.

Season Preview: A Look at 2014-'15 with Coach Murphy

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8784541.jpegBy Meghan Miceli, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swim team is eager to dive into the 2014-'15 season.  With four new captains and an approaching intra-squad meet, the Nittany Lions are ready to make their mark.  Coming off a strong first season as head coach, Tim Murphy is excited to see what this year has in store.

Since its return to campus team has been preparing for the season both in and out of the pool.  Between goal sheets, early mornings in the weight room and afternoons in the pool, the Nittany Lions have hit the ground running.  Murphy is pleased with what he has seen from his team so far, specifically the leadership from his captains and the senior class as a whole.

"We're really working hard on carrying initiative and establishing the program we want to have," Murphy said when asked about his focus for the captains. 

Leading the Nittany Lions this year are seniors Caitlyn Karr, Carolyn Fittin, Nate Savoy and Larry Virgilio.

"This squad of seniors has been a tight group from the day we stepped onto campus as freshmen," said Virgilio, "I couldn't be happier that we are still here and captains together, working to bring this team as far as we can one last time around." 

The Nittany Lions lost a strong class last season, many of which scored at the NCAA Championships.  With the men finishing 24th in the nation and the women placing 19th, there are some gaps to fill.  But for now, Murphy is taking the season one day at a time.  This week's focus is the Blue/White intra-squad meet on Friday.

For Murphy, the Blue/White meet will be a good assessment for the teams progress so far this season and will help lay the groundwork for what needs to be done differently as the Nittany Lions prepare for their first regular season meet.

"I'm very excited for our season," said Karr, "I think this team has a lot of potential. Practices have been going well, but there's always room for improvement."

Catch the teams in action on Friday in McCoy Natatorium at 5 p.m. as they start their season with the Blue and White competition. 

Barbour Eager to Lead Penn State Athletics

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10191947.jpeg
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The 18th of August cannot come soon enough for Sandy Barbour.

Introduced as Penn State Director of Athletics on Saturday afternoon, Barbour is thrilled to begin her tenure as the leader of an athletic program that aspires to continue its long history of excellence on and off the field of play.

"When you spend a professional lifetime serving institutions and most importantly students, you dream about coming to a place like Penn State," Barbour said. "You dream about the opportunity to lead a program like Penn State athletics. Why? Because it represents the opportunity to have it all: Athletic excellence, academic achievement, community engagement and fiscal responsibility. So thank you, Eric [Barron]. I am absolutely thrilled, over the top excited about this opportunity and about being the athletic director at Penn State."

A graduate of Wake Forest where she was field hockey team captain, Barbour grew up on the East Coast and has always had a deep passion for Penn State University and its athletic department. That's what drew her to the position when she originally spoke with President Barron about the opportunity.

Immediately, Barbour felt a connection with the people, pride and remarkable accomplishments of Penn State University and its athletic department.

"I love the 'We Are Penn State.' I particularly love what it stands for. It stands for family," Barbour said.

Barbour desires to see national titles in all 31 sports on campus. But first and foremost, she will strive to lead a department with student-athletes who are elite performers in the classroom.

"We are athletic programs again that are all part of a university," Barbour said. "Our student-athletes will be students first, Penn State is incredibly proud of the academic performance of their students and we will continue to be."

Eager to hit the ground running when she begins her duties as athletic director in 23 days, Barbour wants to learn from everyone in the department, especially the head coaches leading Penn State's 31 athletic teams.

"Unity doesn't mean one opinion, and I actually embrace that, embrace the diversity of opinion, diversity in a variety of different ways, and I actually think that will make us stronger in our ability to move forward," Barbour said. "As I said before, I have something to learn from everybody, and I'll be doing a lot of listening."

Numerous head coaches were in attendance at Saturday's introductory press conference. The coaches and athletic department staff then had a chance to mingle with Barbour at a private reception before she boarded a flight to Chicago for Big Ten meetings. The head coaches in attendance exuded great confidence in the future direction of the athletic department.

"There is a culture, history and tradition of tremendous academic achievement at Penn State and that will continue," said head football coach James Franklin. "I know it's important to our president, athletic director and all of our coaches. That will continue. I know we'll spend as much time as we need to so we can start building."


"I am truly thrilled that Sandy Barbour will serve as the next athletic director for Penn State," Lady Lions head coach Coquese Washington said. "Sandy is a strong, dynamic and passionate leader. She is also an incredibly smart visionary and strategic thinker. It is exciting to imagine all the ways Penn State University, and Penn State athletics in particular, will be positively impacted by her leadership."

"I loved everything I heard today," head women's hockey coach Josh Brandwene said. "She has passion, vision and just a great understanding of the Penn State community. Both as a head coach and as an alumnus, I am really excited to start working with her."


Barbour will return to California in the coming days to prepare for her full-time return to Happy Valley on Aug. 18, and the new leader of Penn State Athletics is fired up to get started.

"We are Penn State. I'm all in. I'm ready to get going," said Barbour.

 


Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony

Nittany Lions take Swimming and Diving Program to New Heights

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Wrapping up their first season under head coach Tim Murphy, the Nittany Lions continued to build off of the success the team saw at Big Tens as they headed into the 2014 NCAA Championships.

The seven men who competed brought back a 17th-place finish and scored 63 total points. This marked the first time in over a decade that the Nittany Lions posted this many points and finished this high in the rankings against the toughest competition in the nation.

Coming off of a strong Big Ten showing, the men had three weeks to get back to work and prepare for the highly competitive meet.

"It was kind of hard resting for Big Tens and then making a three week transition where we went up in yardage and tried to come back down," Shane Ryan said. "We just wanted to be at our best and better than we were at Big Tens. We always want to swim faster and break more records. Overall we did an amazing job as a team - just imagine what we could do if we had a full team there."

The squad's mentality going into the weekend was to relax and have fun with what could be considered one of their biggest meets of their career.

"Going into NCAA's we just wanted to have fun and see what we could do," Ryan said. "There's more pressure on Big Tens rather than NCAAs, even though there should be more pressure on NCAAs. There's more of a team atmosphere at Big Tens because there are more people from our team there. We went there and tried to swim our hearts out."

This meet marked the last time four seniors would ever be able to compete as a Nittany Lion. James Wilson, John Hauser, Seth Wensel, and Shane Austin all exhibited strong leadership skills throughout the season and contributed to reaching new goals for the team.

"They are all really good guys leaving that will be really hard to replace. With the transition of the new coaches, it was good to have them help ease the transition and help us handle the changes," Ryan said. "Swimming on a relay with all seniors was an awesome experience because they had fire. It was their last race and they didn't hold anything back."

Although this meet was the last opportunity for some of the swimmers to compete, it was the first opportunity for Ryan to represent Penn State at NCAAs. The sophomore competed to a second place finish in the 100 Backstroke and his time put him just 0.15 seconds away from a first place finish. He was also 0.71 seconds away from setting an American record.

"My mentality going into the night was if you have a lane you can win," Ryan said. "I just went out and swam to try and win and get the gold. I was happy with the time - I really wasn't expecting to go that fast. I thought the fastest time I could go was at Big Tens so I was happy about that."

Not only was Ryan pleased with the time and where he placed, he was also happy to be able to bring positive attention to the program.

"It's a great honor to be able to get Penn State up on the board, especially in the A final," Ryan said. "The last person who was in the A final was in 2008. I'm happy to be able to represent Penn State and get our name out there more. They know our program is up and coming and it will help with recruiting."

Anytime the swimmers and divers are able to take Penn State to new heights and set new records for the program, their performances benefit the future of the team.

"We were just thinking of the future," Ryan said. "We want people to see that we are getting better, that we are a really good program with a great coaching staff. We've always had good coaching, but this year we really stepped up our game and all of us are swimming well. We wanted to make a statement for Penn State and get our name up on the board. We wanted to get the announcer to say Penn State more often."