Recently in Swimming & Diving Category
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The
men's swimming and diving team traveled to Ann Arbor, Mich., and brought back
some of the best performances in school history, and proving that the hard work
the athletes have put in since August paid off as the team continues to move in
the right direction.
"I think the guys overall did a nice job," head
coach Tim Murphy said. "We had numerous best times, we in some cases got better
as the meet went on. Our relays were very competitive which was good for us and
we had some people on the podium. All-in-all, I thought it was a big step
forward from both the individual and team
With some of the top competition in the country coming
together for the Big Ten Championships, the team had no options other than to
push each other through their events and take advantage of every opportunity in
front of them.
"I told the guys at the meet that if they're
fortunate, they will be a part of four Big Ten championship teams. It's an
extremely competitive meet and there are just a few opportunities there. I saw
them really come together as a team, they really
fought for each other and fought with each other."
Allowing them to come together as a team and
support each other was the pride that they share to be a part of the Penn State
swimming and diving program while representing everyone who came before them
and helped build the program.
"They displayed from a performance standpoint the
work they've put in all year and from a team standpoint the pride that they
have representing Penn State swimming and diving. We were able to do that, we
left our mark on the meet and I think all the guys, similar to the ladies, did
as a team swim fast. They had some fun and the team took a step forward,"
One of the swimmers who helped the team take a step
forward was sophomore Shane Ryan, who brought back two Big Ten titles in the
100 freestyle and 100 backstroke in addition to a second place finish in the 50
freestyle. Not only did he make it to the podium in all of his events, he was
also named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships, and set new Big Ten records
and school records.
Even though this was Ryan's first time attending
this style of championship meet, he didn't let anything get in his way from
going after what he wanted to accomplish.
"(Ryan's) on a continuum," Murphy said. "This was
his first opportunity at Big Tens and he didn't shy away from the moment. He
made his way to the top of the podium, which was obviously something we had in
mind. This is a growing process and a learning process and I thought he did a
good job displaying the work he put in and his competitiveness."
The sophomore was able to handle any pressures or
nerves that come with competing knowing that the work he put in throughout the
year and his preparation would be there. Having a race plan and staying focused
on only his race proved to be a successful approach.
"Every time before I went up to race, Tim told me a
set plan," Ryan said. "He said 'If you do this, you'll be good' so I really
didn't let the nerves distract me. I know that I have a lane and it's just me
in that lane - that's what I think about whenever I race. Nerves really don't
distract me - I really just use them to my advantage."
Ryan was part of making history for the Penn State
swimming and diving program as his win in the 100 backstroke marked the first
ever Nittany Lion win in that event. This swim also marked the first individual
title the men's team has seen since 2003.
"In reference to the historical standpoint, anytime
you have a first for a program that's a really important thing," Murphy said.
"We all celebrated that and it was really fun to watch."
After the 100 back, Ryan wasn't the only person
standing on the podium. To his left was his teammate Nate Savoy while Penn
State's fight song played throughout Canham Natatorium.
"In the 100 back, it was awesome seeing number two
and Nate Savoy's name right next to it. It was really good to get points for
the team. I just wanted to show that Penn State was there and make sure that at this past Big Tens that Penn State left a statement.
I was sick of hearing other school's fight song so to hear ours was a really
Although the team has taken huge strides of
progress, both Murphy and Ryan know this is just a starting point and the team
will continue to develop. This isn't the end of
Penn State reaching new records.
"I just hope people know that even though we don't
have the best facility, we have the best coaching staff," Ryan said. "We have
so much untapped talent that this is just the beginning. There's going to be a
lot more records coming down and people are going to hear a lot more about Penn
State swimming and diving."
With the first meet of their championship season behind them, the Nittany Lions will have to shift
their focus to the NCAA Championships starting on March 27. They swimmers and
divers who qualify for NCAA's will get back to their training routine to get
even faster between now and then.
"The idea now is to be faster in four weeks which is not easy," Murphy said. "It's
probably a lot more difficult than it is at Big Tens, the size of the group is
going to be smaller, we'll still have relays but we're pretty much right back
to work. We'll try to find a way in the next month to be better - easier said
than done but that's the goal."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The postseason push for Penn State teams in March is on.
The first weekend of
the month kicked off in fine fashion with two teams tallying Big Ten championships
to go along with an individual being named the top performer at the Big Ten Men's
Swimming & Diving Championships.
In dramatic fashion, the Nittany Lion women's track & field team notched
its third conference crown at the Big Ten Indoor Championships on Saturday
afternoon. It all came down to the
4x400-meter relay with the Lions leading Michigan by just half a point heading
into the final event. The Lions stormed
to a victory in the relay to seal the title.
"The women were outstanding today," said Director of Track &
Field and Head Coach Beth Alford-Sullivan. "Michigan pressed us hard
throughout the weekend, but we kept our composure and competed great. This is a
championship win to remember."
Roughly 45 minutes after the women's track & field team was crowned champion,
the Lady Lion basketball team finished off a 77-62 triumph over Michigan to
clinch a share of its third-straight Big Ten regular season title. The Lady Lions join Ohio State and Iowa as
the only programs to win three or more consecutive Big Ten titles.
"It's the first time in program history that we have won three Big Ten
Championships in a row," head coach Coquese Washington said. "When this program
has such a storied legacy, to be able to do something that this program hasn't
done before, it's pretty hard. The program has accomplished so much and for
this class and team to do something that sets them apart, that's really cool."
In the pool, sophomore Shane Ryan capped off a strong outing for the Nittany
Lion men's swimming team by becoming the first Penn State men's swimmer to be
named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships on Saturday. Ryan broke the Big Ten record in the 100m
freestyle, topping a mark set by former Northwestern Wildcat and 2012 London
Olympics medalist Matt Grevers. Ryan is the
first Nittany Lion to win two individual gold medals at the Big Ten
Championships. His efforts powered the
men's team to fifth in the team standings.
The men's team's performance came one week after the Nittany Lion
women's swimming & diving team took third at the Big Ten Women's
With a standout weekend in the books, the Nittany Lions are full steam ahead in
postseason mode beginning on Friday when the Lady Lions kick off play as the
No. 1 seed at the Big Ten Women's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis. Penn State will meet either Northwestern or
Ohio State at noon (BTN) on Friday. The
semifinals take place on Saturday, with the tournament final on Sunday in
Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Saturday, the three-time defending NCAA champion Penn State wrestling team
will begin its Big Ten title defense at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wis. Head coach Cael Sanderson and the Nittany
Lions will look for their fourth-straight Big Ten title over the weekend. Additionally, seniors Ed Ruth and David
Taylor have an opportunity to become Penn State's first four-time Big Ten
individual champions. Junior Matt Brown
is the third Nittany Lion in the lineup with a Big Ten individual title. The Big Ten finals will air live on BTN
Sunday at 2 p.m.
There are several marquee events on the horizon following the action this
weekend. The 2014 Big Ten Men's
Basketball Tournament is slated to begin on March 13 in Indianapolis. The Nittany Lion men's hoops team will finish
off its regular season this week with games at Northwestern and Minnesota. The Lions will learn their seed for the
tournament on Sunday.
The track and field squads will also be in action during the third weekend in
March. Penn State will travel to
Albaquerque for the NCAA Indoor Championships on March 14-15.
Head coach James Franklin and the Nittany Lion football team will wrap up
winter conditioning this week in preparation for the start of spring practice
on March 17. The Nittany Lions will
practice 15 times before the Blue-White Game on April 12 (1:30 p.m.).
The fourth weekend of March will feature no fewer than six postseason events
for Penn State teams. The No. 1
wrestling team will begin its NCAA title defense on March 20 in Oklahoma City
at the 2014 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
The finals will take place on March 22.
The ESPN family of networks will televise all six of the NCAA Wrestling
In Happy Valley, the women's gymnastics team plays host to the Big Ten Championships
in Rec Hall on March 22. Across campus,
the Bryce Jordan Center is slated to host the first and second rounds of the
NCAA Women's Basketball Championship.
Games are slated for 12:30 p.m. and 3 p.m. on March 23 and 7 p.m. on
Out of town, the first Big Ten Hockey Tournament will take place in Saint Paul,
Minn., beginning on March 20. The NCAA
Women's Swimming & Diving Championships begin on March 20 in Minneapolis,
as well. The Penn State fencing teams
also kick of NCAA Championships competition in Columbus on March 20.
The month will wrap up with a weekend featuring the NCAA Men's Swimming &
Diving Championships, which begin on March 27 in Austin, Texas. The Big Ten Men's Gymnastics Championships
begin on March 28 in Lincoln, Neb.
With two titles already in hand, it will be a busy month ahead for Penn State
teams competing in postseason competition.
Stay tuned for complete coverage of the postseason push on
Key Dates Ahead in March
March 7 - Noon (BTN) - Lady
Lions vs. Ohio State/Northwestern (Big Ten Tournament Quarterfinals -
March 8 - 11 a.m./6 p.m. - Big Ten
Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 9 - 12/2 p.m. (BTN) - Big Ten Wrestling Championships (Madison, Wis.)
March 13-16 - Big Ten Men's
Basketball Tournament (Indianapolis)
March 14-15 - NCAA Indoor Track
& Field Championships (Albuquerque, N.M.)
March 17 - First Day of Spring
March 20-22 - NCAA Wrestling
Championships (Oklahoma City, Okla.); NCAA Fencing Championships (Columbus,
Ohio); NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships (Minneapolis, Minn.);
Big Ten Men's Hockey Tournament (Saint Paul, Minn.)
March 22 - 12/5 p.m. - Big Ten
Women's Gymnastics Championships (University Park, Pa.)
March 23 - 12:30/3 p.m. - NCAA
Women's Basketball First Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 25 - 7 p.m. - NCAA Women's
Basketball Second Round (University Park, Pa.)
March 27-29 - NCAA Men's Swimming
& Diving Championships (Austin, Texas)
March 28-29 - Big Ten Men's
Gymnastics Championships (Lincoln, Neb.)
Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The women's swimming and diving team brought back a
third place finish in the Big Ten Championships just in time to send off the
men's team as they take their turn to compete.
Coming together and getting behind each race proved to play a huge role for the
women as they got off to a strong start with the 200 Medley Relay on the first
night. From there, they kept the momentum building each day.
"As a team, we really rallied off of each other," senior Chelsea Weedman said.
"The very first relay was awesome so after that, we just kept the ball rolling.
I think we did a really good job cheering and getting everyone pumped up and
motivated, but overall I think it was a very, very good meet for the team."
This championship season marks the first time that head coach Tim Muprhy
would walk on the deck of a Big Ten Championship leading the Nittany Lions.
After going through the meet, he couldn't be more proud of what the ladies
"I was really proud of them and I was impressed with the way that they took
on the challenge going into the meet. They weren't really predicted to have any
kind of presence, but by the end of the last day we certainly left our mark at
the meet in the pool and off the deck," Murphy said.
Although the women's swimming and diving team were not mentioned in the top
three projections going into the meet, they did everything possible to change
the outcome of that as they competed hard to finish in third place as a team.
Murphy reminded the team to keep in mind who they are representing before they
"The main thing that we talked about was that everything we do needs to be
done with the backdrop of Penn State pride," Murphy said. "In reference to not
being mentioned or talked about beforehand, I think the pride was very evident
in who they are and how they felt about each other and representing Penn State
and I thought they did a nice job with that."
The Nittany Lions came back with new school records in the 200 Medley
Relay, 800 Freestyle Relay, 100 Butterfly, 200 Freestyle, and 400 Medley Relay.
In addition to a new school record in the 100 Butterfly, Mackenzie Powers also
set a new Big Ten record in the event.
On the third day of competition, Powers (100 Butterfly) and Alyson Ackman
(200 Freestyle) both fought their way to earn the top spot on the podium and a
gold medal with their teammates cheering them on.
"The nicest part about it was watching them stand on top of the podium looking
at their team and their team going nuts for them," Murphy said. "That was both
during the race when they finished and turned around to look at the team and
the team cheering them on and then when they got their medal on the podium and
they played the fight song. It just doesn't get much better than that."
Freshman Katelyn Sowinski had the opportunity to experience her first Big
Tens and really took in the moment when her teammates received their medals.
"That was one of the coolest things ever because they are your teammates
and you train with them everyday," Sowinski said. "To see them accomplish
something that great - there was just so much excitement and you felt like you
were right there with them."
The wins for the team helped keep the momentum going and the energy up for
the women as they headed into their fourth and final day. Having those two Big
Ten titles to take back to the team motivated the swimmers and divers to close
out the meet strong.
"That just creates so much excitement in general and Saturday morning is
always the hardest to get up and swim fast because everybody's tired and your
just trying to get to finals so with the two individual victories in mind - it
was easier to keep motivated and keep our goals in check," Weedman said.
With an exciting start to the championship season behind them, the season
is not over for the Nittany Lions. The team will have to shift their focus and
get back to training as they prepare for the NCAA Championships on March 20 in
"We're just going to go back to work," Murphy said. "We just came off of a
big meet so we need to recharge and regain our focus for the NCAA
Championships. It's not going to get any easier; in fact it's a step up so
it'll get more competitive. I think they're excited about what they did and now
we expect and our goal is to get better between now and then."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - For the men's swimming and diving team, the opportunity
to showcase what the group has been training for all year is finally here.
The men's swimming and diving team will make its way to Michigan to compete
in the Big Ten Championships beginning on Wednesday.
Even though the men and women train together each and every day, when it
comes time for Big Tens, they compete one week a part at different locations.
For the men, this gave them an opportunity to see how the women's team did and
build off of their results.
"After we saw the girls swim, we know the training has worked for them so
we're set-up to do great things," senior James Wilson said. "You know what
girls were in your group and you know what they've been doing so that really
boosts your confidence."
As head coach Tim Murphy just got back from his first championship meet
with the women, he knows what challenges the men will face as they step into a
"I think they're very proud of the ladies team, proud of Penn State
Swimming and Diving, and now it's their turn," Murphy said. "They have the same challenge in terms of the backdrop and
everything we do, the way that we handle ourselves, the way that we compete, a
backdrop of being proud of who we are and the way we do things. It's their turn
and they're excited about finally getting to go to the meet."
With excitement running through the team, the men are ready to watch all of
their hard work throughout the season pay off as they take the blocks against
some of the best competition in the country.
"I'm excited just to see how we come together as a whole," Wilson said. "I
feel like in the past we haven't really had that one meet where everybody comes
together and I think this year we are in a good place for everybody to have
In an atmosphere that brings together 10 different
Big Ten teams all trying to compete at the highest level, the men use that
energy to push them closer to their goals.
"It's probably the most exciting meet that we go to all year," junior Nate
Savoy said. "It has a championship atmosphere that doesn't get matched at dual
meets throughout the year. For all of us, it's really exciting to perform
there. For some of the guys it's a little intimidating but the quicker they get
used to it the better they're going to do."
As one of the more experienced swimmers on the team, Savoy has competed at
NCAA Championships and Olympic trials and knows how to channel any nerves he
may face. The junior has given some of the freshman advice on how to handle the
"I've talked to several of them just about what to expect when they get
there and how it's going to work and talk through some of their goal times with
them one-on-one to try and get them settled down," Savoy said. "I know there's
a lot of guys in our freshman group that if they swim the way that they should,
they're going to score points for us and be really helpful in the team race."
Wilson has given the younger swimmers the same advice. Knowing what they
are going through headed into a championship meet far different than any high
school meet, the captains told them to be prepared for anything.
"They're going to see guys that are the best in the country, but they were
recruited as some of the best guys coming out of high school so they have to
know that they're already on their level," Wilson said. "They should be as good
or if not better as some of the seniors at Big Tens."
Even though championship season can bring extra pressure for the swimmers
and divers, remembering that it's just another meet and that the athlete's have
been doing this for most of their lives is key to keeping their nerves down.
"You have to think of Big Tens as another dual meet," Wilson said. "You're
just trying to win, you're trying to get your hand on the wall first, you can't
put it on a pedestal and freak out before. You just have to go with what you've
been doing your whole life."
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
Penn State Athletics was heavily involved with the 42nd IFC/Panhellenic
Dance Marathon (THON) held at the Bryce Jordan Center this weekend.
A record 711 dancers began standing at 6 p.m. on Friday and did not sit down
or sleep until Sunday at 4 p.m. to raise awareness for the fight against
pediatric cancer in the largest student-run philanthropy in the world.
Since 1977, THON has partnered with The Four Diamonds Fund
at Penn State Hershey Children's Hospital with one goal in mind: conquering
childhood cancer. THON raised a record
of more than $13.3 million in 2014. To
date, more than $110 million has been raised by THON.
Several Penn State student-athletes danced in the annual dance
marathon. Representing the Student
Athlete Advisory Board (SAAB) will be Maggie Harding from women's volleyball,
Natalie Buttinger from field hockey, Erin Kehoe from women's soccer and
Christian Kaschak from men's soccer.
Williams and Elise Potter from the Lionettes squad and Eugene Bodden, Kali
Fleckenstein, Carrie Tedesco and Ally Zimmerman from Penn State cheerleading danced in THON.
Several teams and coaches played an active role in THON events throughout
the weekend, in addition to squads participating in Saturday's annual pep rally
and team dance competition.
We would also like to
congratulate Penn State Athletic Communications student assistant Rachel Steinberg, as she danced over the weekend, in addition to the several student assistants
actively involved with THON.
Take a look through our THON weekend updates on the involvement Penn State Athletics. To donate to THON, please visit THON.org.
3:30 p.m. - Feature: Student-Athletes Set to Dance for Pediatric Cancer
Click here to read a feature on the student-athletes participating in THON 2014 - Feature Story
6 p.m. - THON 2014 Begins
The 711 dancers took their feet at 6 p.m. before an energetic crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center to begin 46-straight hours on their feet.
11 p.m. - Interview on the Floor
GoPSUsports.com talked with women's volleyball senior Maggie Harding on the floor about her experience during THON.
3 p.m. - Student-Athletes Host Make-A-Wish Families
Several teams hosted THON Make-A-Wish families on Saturday afternoon as part of the THON 2014 festivities.
More than 50 members of the Nittany Lion football team welcomed nearly 40 THON Make-A-Wish children and their families to a special tour of the Lasch Football Building on Saturday afternoon.
The Make-A-Wish event is circled on the calendar for the Nittany Lions every year. The THON families gathered inside the home of Penn State football to take photos, get autographs, tour the facility with the Nittany Lions, eat ice cream from the Penn State Creamery and take a group photo.
Head coach James Franklin greeted the group when it arrived at the facility tour before senior Miles Dieffenbach and sophomore Akeel Lynch led families on tours. Take a look at the Make-A-Wish event at the Lasch Football Complex on Saturday.
Photo Gallery - THON Make-A-Wish Football Event
5 p.m. - Student-Athletes Participate in Athlete Hour
Athletes from several teams on campus spent times with the THON Four Diamonds children inside the Bryce Jordan Center during athlete hour on Saturday. Take a look.
9:45 p.m. - VIDEO: Pep Rally Dance Competition Highlights
One of the THON highlights every year comes on Saturday night when the teams of Penn State Athletics hop on stage and compete in a dancing competition during the annual pep rally. In all, 12 different teams competed in the 2014 version of the dance-off.
With resounding approval from a packed house in the Bryce Jordan Center, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team was named champion of the team dancing competition for the second-straight year. We have highlights of every team dancing on Saturday night at THON.
Photo Gallery - THON 2014 Pep Rally
Men's Swimming (Champions) - Full Dance
Football - Full Dance
Men's Basketball - Full Dance
Women's Volleyball - Full Dance
Men's Gymnastics - Full Dance
Women's Tennis - Full Dance
Field Hockey - Full Dance
Fencing - Full Dance
Men's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Lacrosse - Full Dance
Women's Soccer - Full Dance
Women's Golf - Full Dance
11:05 p.m. - Student-Athlete Dancer Interviews: Hour 30
GoPSUsports.com talks with THON 2014 dancers Natalie Buttinger (field hockey) and Erin Kehoe (women's soccer) during the 30th hour of their 46-hour quest at THON.
12:55 p.m. - VIDEO: Coach Franklin Addresses THON 2014
Head coach James Franklin took the stage at THON on Sunday afternoon, urging the dancers to continuing working hard in their final push at the 46-hour marathon. Franklin spoke before a capacity crowd inside the Bryce Jordan Center. Take a look.
4:11 p.m. - THON 2014 Raises Record $13.3 Million
THON 2014 reached new heights on Sunday afternoon when it was revealed that this year's efforts raised $13,343,517.33 for fight against pediatric cancer. Congratulations to everyone involved in THON 2014. Here is a look at the reveal on the Rec Hall video board following Sunday's Penn State wrestling victory over Clarion.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Watch several members of the Nittany Lion men's swimming and diving team show off their dance moves at the THON 2014 Pep Rally. The Lions took home the crown as the champion for the second-straight year.
Follow GoPSUsports.com's Tony Mancuso on Twitter @GoPSUTony
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com
Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Since
August, the women's swimming and diving team has put
in countless hours of practice and competed in seven dual meets, all while
keeping in mind their ultimate focus of the year - the Big Ten Championships.
Now that the championship season is finally here, it's time for all of their
hard work to pay off as the team travels to Minneapolis, Minn.
"I think there's been a build up over the course of the whole year,"
head coach Tim Murphy said. "I've seen some good things in reference to the
team and individuals from the training standpoint. We're at that time of the
year where we just have to connect the dots and put some good performances
Having 12 different teams all in one place with prelims and finals sessions,
the energy at Big Tens is unlike any other meet and contributes to strong
performances all across the board when the whole team gets behind each and
"The atmosphere at Big Tens is insane," Allyson Ackman said. "It's so
exciting you get your adrenaline pumping and you're ready to go right away so
it's one of the biggest differences of swimming in college."
In order to ensure that the swimmers and divers are both mentally and
physically prepared to compete against the other
Big Ten schools, the amount of yardage that the team puts in goes down while the quality increases.
"At this point in time you always start to change the amount of work,
the type of work, but it becomes a little bit less in volume," Murphy said.
"We're still doing quality work but we're coming down a little bit in just a
general tapering process making sure the bodies are rested and ready to compete
from a peak performance stand point for the time we're at Big Tens."
Although the last few weeks have been a different approach to training,
having a new coaching staff has also helped the team prepare in a new way the
season. Taking the times and scores from dual meets and comparing them to past
years gives sophomore Alyson Ackman the confidence needed to perform well going
into Big Tens.
"This year as a whole has been really different mostly because the
coaches have been different," Ackman said. "We've been doing a lot less volume
intensity and a lot more specific intensity and I think that's really helped me
prepare and seeing my times compared to what I was doing last year I think I've
improved a lot which really gets me mentally prepared for Big Tens and seeing
what I can do."
The Big Ten Championships start on Wednesday and ends Saturday, which is
longer than the one or two-day dual meets during
the year. Having the ability to keep their bodies physically fresh and their
minds positive despite any fatigue from racing for several days in a row is
something the coaching staff has worked all season to prepare the team for.
"It comes down to a reflection of what we've been doing all year in
reference to being prepared," Murphy said. "We challenge the athlete's, we've
asked for their input when it's appropriate and necessary and help them rely on
their competitive instincts and not overthink things. It's a simplification
process but at the same time, the energy and the excitement gets larger so you
just have to take a deep breath and have some fun with it."
Even though there are more days to compete at Big Tens, the individual
events are spread out giving the swimmers and divers more time to recover and
focus on one race at a time.
"The whole year we've gotten speeches if you have a bad race to forget it, move
past it," Shishkoff said. "If you have a good race, forget about it and move
past it because you can't get complacent. Even though Big Tens is really hard,
we're swimming fewer races in a day than we are at dual meets so it's easier
because you have more time to cope and move on instead of back to back races."
Both Shishkoff and Ackman have experience competing at this level in a
collegiate championship and will use what they learned to help the freshman
adjust to their first Big Tens, which can sometimes become overwhelming.
"I'm really excited to see the freshman and how they react to the
adrenaline rush," Ackman said. "It'll be really interesting to see it from a
different perspective having that experience already and knowing what it's
about, which will help me prepare for it and be able to support my teammates
Taking what the upperclassmen learned from past championship seasons,
their confidence headed into one of the biggest meets of their career adds to their
success both as a team and individually.
"Confidence is key especially when it comes to race day," Ackman said.
"The past couple of weeks I've just been telling myself I can do this and when
I get to the meet I shut my mind off and the pieces fall where they may. Just
from experience, my confidence is what gets you to your goals. You can't be
thinking about other people and your doubts - you just have to go for it."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the Nittany Lions begin to
prepare for their championship season with Big Tens just around the corner, the
team had one last opportunity to put their last few weeks of training to the
test as they competed against St. Bonaventure and Towson.
The swimmers and divers came out with wins on both the men's
and women's side. The men beat Towson with a score of 183-114 and St.
Bonaventure with a final of 200-95, improving their record to 7-1 for the duel
meet season. The women closed out the meet with a score of 166-133 against
Towson, while they defeated St. Bonaventure
232-65. This victory gives the women a 5-2 record.
However, this tri-meet had much more meaning to the program
than any score would ever tell. For 17 seniors, four years of running out in
front of a home crowd came down to one final day. The day started off with a
team breakfast where head coach Tim Murphy thanked them for everything they
brought to the program.
"I had a short period of time with them," Murphy said. " But
I wanted to take the time to acknowledge their perseverance, their dedication,
and their commitment to the program. I appreciated how they handled this year.
I told them at the beginning of the year that they would be the most important
people on this team in terms of setting the team dynamic and setting the work
In past years, the team has made a human tunnel for the
seniors to walk through with their parents. This year, alumni were invited on
deck to join in this tradition. At the end of the tunnel, they were given a
blanket from Coach Murphy.
"We had a nice ceremony," Murphy said. "I could see it in
their eyes that their parents and them are very proud of what they've
accomplished. We really wanted to take the time to honor the seniors - they
deserve that. To see that some of the kids made decorations for them is kind of
neat. To see a crowd, to see it packed, and to see the emotion from the parents
- that's the way it should be."
After watching the senior day traditions for three years,
having the opportunity to finally participate in it and walk through the tunnel
was exciting for Shane Austin who's brother, John Austin, walked through the
tunnel when Shane was a freshman.
"I feel like just recently I was on deck with my brother for
the ceremony," Austin said. "It went by a lot faster than I expected. It's a
lot of fun. It was a different atmosphere because it was our last time swimming
here and I think we all wanted to do well."
The swimmers and divers did just that. With the unique
atmosphere, sophomore Shane Ryan and junior Nate Savoy helped make it even more
memorable for seniors John Hauser and Austin when the four combined to break
the pool record by over two seconds in the 400 freestyle relay.
Breaking a new pool record means their names will go on the
record board hanging in McCoy Natatorium.
"I told them we were going to challenge them, support them,
and expect the best from them," Murphy said. "It
takes a lot of energy and a lot of focus on their part. The fact that they get
to put their names on the board just adds to the whole afternoon and makes it
kind of special."
One aspect the seniors had to face this year was taking on a
leadership role in easing the transition in coaching staffs. For senior
Mackenzie Powers, the changes were easy to adjust to during her final year of
representing Penn State.
"I think the new coaching staff has been a really positive
thing for our team," Powers said. "They bring really great ideas and smarter
training. I think we've all had a lot of fun this year. It has definitely been
a good last year of swimming with this team atmosphere."
At this point in the season,
the focus shifts from tough training and competing in duel meets to easing into
taper to prepare for the Ohio State Invitational and Big Tens just weeks away.
Coach Murphy is pleased with where the athletes are headed.
"We've done some good things," Murphy said. "I expect that
the way that we do things will put us in a position to do better. I'm looking
for us to perform individually and especially to perform as a team. If that
unfolds, we're going to accomplish a lot. Where we end up in reference to the
rest of the conference, we just need to take care of ourselves."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As the swimmers and divers
prepare for another home meet against St. Bonaventure and Towson, for most it's
just another competition. However, for the 17 seniors who have helped lead the
Nittany Lions, it's their final chance to compete with this team in McCoy
This meet has traditionally been a chance for the seniors to
be recognized for their commitment, development, and leadership that they have
given to the program over their past four years. On the women's side Mackenzie
Powers, Gabi Shishkoff, captain Claire Singley, Sarah Somers, Megan
Springsteen, captain Chelsea Weedman, and Brynja Winnan will be honored.
For the men's team, Shane Austin, captain Chris Cipolla
Peter Fittin, John Hauser, Lucas Kachurick, Tom Mershon, Matt Salig, Andrew
Sideras, Seth Wensel, and captain James Wilson will be recognized.
While all of these seniors had a choice of where they wanted
to start their collegiate career, one common reason that they chose Penn State
was the amount of pride the university displayed when they took their
recruiting trip and how well they connected with the team.
"When I took a trip here, I didn't really have any
expectations, but when I came to this campus I fell in love with the team, I
loved the coaching staff, and most of all I loved the school spirit and how
everyone here loved Penn State," Weedman said. "It just seemed like the
greatest community anyone could be a part of."
Looking back to when this group of seniors first stepped
foot on campus, they knew they had four years ahead of them to train in the
pool and learn the ins and outs of their major in the classroom. For captain
Claire Singley, she did not expect the time to go by as quickly as it has.
"My freshman year, you're just thinking this is never going to end," Singley
said. "Then you look back and you realize how much fun you did have. I just
remember everyone saying each year goes by faster and I never really believed
them. Now it's already almost over and I'd never thought it'd go this fast."
Over four years, the role of each athlete changes. As a
freshman, they quickly learn the expectations of the program, how to balance
the athletics, academics, and the social scene. As seniors, they are the one's
teaching the underclassmen how to adjust and handle these different pressures.
"From my freshman year to now, there has definitely been a
huge change," Cipolla said. "I never would have seen myself become a captain
during my freshman year but throughout my time here I've seen myself be able to
take on a lot more responsibilities in my actions and with what the team is
With the grueling schedule of morning practices, weight room
training, and going back to the pool again in the evening, making it all four
years is a true accomplishment. For diver Megan Springsteen, all the hard work
and sacrifices she has made over the years have already paid off for the best.
"At times you wonder why you do this and why you get up at 5
a.m. every morning and then you look at the progress you've made over the past
four years," Springsteen said. "You also look at the chances you've had to
represent Penn State and to be a great competitor and a better diver and it
becomes unreal and completely worth it."
When the swimmers and divers put in as much time as they do,
they have developed strong bonds and relationships between their teammates and
coaches, which is one aspect that keeps them going and pushing through the hard
"I'll miss walking on deck everyday and having a huge group
of friends where everyone's going through the same things together, " Mershon
said. "There's such a strong support system so it'll be a little bit
disappointing to know that this weekend will be the last time I'm stepping on
this deck for a meet with these people in a competitive way."
While all the seniors spent their college career competing
in McCoy Natatorium, some of the Pennsylvania natives also competed at this
pool with their club teams as they were growing up. This weekend will mark the
senior's last chance to compete in the pool that they've spent countless hours
"The first time I swam in the pool, I was 12 years-old so
it'll be really weird after the weekend knowing that would be the last time I
would compete in this pool," Salig said. "It'll be hard not to be competing
anymore after this season. It'll be like leaving part of me behind since I've
done this for so many years. That'll be a void I'll have to fill with something
Head coach Tim Murphy has watched these seniors grow into
stronger leaders in his first year with the Nittany Lions and looks forward to
the opportunity to recognize them this weekend at 1 p.m.
"It's been an honor, it's been a pleasure, it's been a
challenge to work with these seniors," Murphy said. "I appreciate the effort,
their commitment, and the value they place on being on this team. Being a
four-year athlete is difficult, being a four-year student-athlete is difficult,
being a four-year student-athlete who swims or dives is extremely difficult."
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With a home dual meet behind them against West
Virginia and an away meet against Buffalo last weekend for the men swimmers and
divers, the Nittany Lions are set to travel as a combined squad to Charlottesville,
Va. to compete against Virginia, Texas, and West Virginia.
The men had an extra opportunity to race against Buffalo where they came
out with a win 155-137. The swimmers and divers took advantage of the
competition and used the past couple of days to clean up their technique and
"Taking off of the Buffalo meet, the biggest thing we got out of it was
we had another opportunity to race and a better understanding of the things
they need to work on whether it be race strategy or technique stuff," head
coach Tim Murphy said. "The last couple of days we got good work in and we're
going to go down and bang heads with some good swimmers across the board and
see where we are competitively at this time."
Not only did the dual meet allow for the coaches to see where the men
swimmers and divers stood, it also allowed the men to come back and refine
their habits going into a meet with some of the best competition in the ACC and
Big 12 on Friday and Saturday.
"Although last weekend was a great win for us, there were still things
that were clear we needed to work on," junior Nick Ankosko said. "I think this
week was really all about working out some of the kinks of racing and focusing
on early speed in our races. This weekend is a much bigger meet for us so we
have to take what we saw last weekend and fix it going into this weekend."
The trip to Virginia will mark the first travel meet with coach Murphy
and the combined squads, adding excitement to the meet in addition to gauging
where the athletes stand after a fall season of hard work.
"I always get excited when I get to see my team race against other
competition," Murphy said. "In this case, the level of competition is a couple
steps up at this point in time and it will be interesting to see where we are
at this point of the season."
The veterans on the team know what to expect in the tri-meet since they
have competed against West Virginia and Virginia for the past couple of years.
The men are using the results of last year as motivation to come out with a
victory this year.
"After last years meet when the men's team was leading after day one, we
kind of let our fight down in day two of the meet so I know we will be ready to
fight this year and finally take down UVA," Ankosko said. "It makes it easier
competing against the same teams each year because we know what we need to do."
Along with knowing how to handle the level of competition by racing
against some of the same teams, the athletes set certain expectations and can
mentally prepare to reach those goals.
"It's fun to swim against the same teams every year because you get to
know some of the swimmers and you always have certain expectations going into
the meets against certain teams," junior Megan Siverling said. "Knowing the
other team's strengths helps us know where we need to step up the most."
Although the upperclassmen have competed against these teams and know
what to expect, the freshmen are experiencing this competition for the first
time. With seven freshmen on the men's side and 15 newcomers for the women,
senior Mackenzie Powers is excited to see how they will do against tough
"I'm really excited to see how our team does especially with all of the
talent in the freshmen class and I'm excited to swim against Texas, Virginia,
and West Virginia because they are all very good teams. It should be a fast
meet," Powers said.
Keeping the end of the season in mind, the swimmers and divers use the
opportunity of competing early in the season to help prepare for the
championship season months down the road.
"It's helpful because we've already put in a lot of work so we can start
to see if it's paying off," Siverling said. "At the same time, there's enough
time to make changes in training after the meet if we need to."
In the two-day meet, the swimmers and divers will have the chance to
rehearse a race plan that they want to use at the Big Tens conference meet.
"Most of our people will be swimming in their most competitive events,"
Murphy said. "The events relate to what they're going to be doing and looking
at possibilities for Big Tens. It's just another step in the process."
With meets early in the season, coach Murphy is looking for tough,
competitive racing from the Nittany Lions with the mindset focused on what will
prepare them best for the end of season racing.
"I'm looking for people to be aggressive and dive in and approach the
weekend - not wait to see what they're doing and what's going on around them,"
Murphy said. "I want to see them dive in with the intensities that line up with
what we're trying to accomplish at the end of the season and take note of where
we are in that process from a competitive and team standpoint."