Recently in Swimming & Diving Category

By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State swimming and diving teams have big farewells planned for this weekend's upcoming matchups against Navy. The men's and women's squads will be honoring a total of 12 swimmers for their time as Nittany Lions over the past four years. 

The seniors include: Bob Bantley, Mike Kwasnik, Shane Ryan, Andrew Schuehler, Matt Stasiunas, Mackenzie Cornell, Casey Francis, Mackenzie Hornibrook, Bridget Moody, Katie Saloky, Katelyn Sowinski, Megan Wujciak. 

This group of seniors is head coach Tim Murphy's first class to swim all four years under him.

The teams have one more dual meet this season before heading into Big Ten and NCAA Championships. They take on Villanova in Philadelphia on February 3.

Senior Day ceremonies are slated to start on Saturday, January 21 at 11:40 a.m. in McCoy Natatorium, and the meet will begin at noon.

By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It may be a new year, but Penn State swimming and diving is in full swing as they prepare to enter the final stretch of their season. After a short break, the teams are back in action this weekend as they host Yale and Rutgers at McCoy Natatorium. 

Here are five things you need to know on the program heading into 2017: 

1. National and Big Ten Leaders
Shane Ryan continues to be a leader in the Big Ten in his first season back following competing in the 2016 Rio Olympics. He was named the Big Ten Swimmer of the Week on November 23, his fourth time receiving that honor this season, and the sixth of his career.

Ryan ranks in the top 10 in the Big Ten in all three of his individual events: the 100-yard backstroke (4th), 100-yard freestyle (7th) and 50-yard (6th). He is also in the top 10 nationally for those events and is the only swimmer in the nation to rank in the top 10 in all three.

Freshman Kaelan Freund has been having a breakout season and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week on November 23. He boasts the twelfth-best time in the Big Ten in the 100 and 200 breaststroke.

For the women, three swimmers rank in the top 10 of their individual events. Katie Saloky (50 free), Ally McHugh (400 IM) and Katelyn Sowinski (200 fly) are all ranked eighth in the conference in their respective events. Additionally, Casey Francis (mile) and Niki Price (200 backstroke) both earned NCAA B-cut times. 

2. Nittany Lions Hosting Back-to-Back Home Meets
After being on the road for all but one of their meets in the fall semester, Penn State will be back in McCoy Natatorium for the next three weekends.

They take on Yale and Rutgers this weekend on both Friday and Saturday. The Nittany Lions will then face the Navy Midshipmen on January 21 followed by two days of the Diving Invitational on January 28 and 29. 

"It's just a really good way to start off the home stretch here," said head coach Tim Murphy. "Being at home is always nice, there will be some energy in the air, and we haven't raced in awhile. We're going to get some stern tests with Yale and Rutgers and so we're looking forward to it. It's time to wake up and see where we're at and really push the gas pedal down and start really racing." 

3. Promotions
Several promotions highlight the final meets of the season. Saturday, January 21 against Navy will be Military Appreciation Day. The meet will also highlight Penn State's Ability Athletics program. The intermission breaks will feature an ability athletics exhibition race as well as the second annual Great Penn State Duck Toss.

For the Duck Toss, fans will throw rubber ducks into the pool during the second intermission. The goal is to try to get their duck into hoops placed throughout the water. The toss will feature lots of prize opportunities.

4. Senior Day
As the end of the regular season looms closer, Penn State will be honoring 12 seniors on senior day January 21 against Navy. Since arriving on campus, this group has gone through countless hours of training and travelling together, and above all, has shown commitment and leadership to the team.

"The seniors always play an important role in what you're doing because of their experience, because of their maturity," Murphy said. "They all have played a role in contributing to Penn State swimming and diving, who we are and who we want to be and we've got a short time left with them so we're going to enjoy that and we're looking forward to it." 

5. Championships Right Around the Corner
With the end of the competition season comes the start of championship season. The Big Ten Championships will be held at Purdue University from February 15-18. Following Big Tens is the NCAA Championships on March 16-18 in Indianapolis.

Both meets require swimmers to qualify in advance, so Murphy is looking to new and old swimmers to reach those times. 

"I'd like everyone to have a big meet," Murphy said. "Some of the girls have been there before, so getting back there, qualifying for individual events is something that you want to see. But really, we want to see some new ladies and new guys make those qualifying standards or be on relays."


By ANNA PITINGOLO, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Casey Francis has been representing Penn State for the last three years as a student athlete, a role she's adjusted to and embraced. But now as she enters her final season on the swim team, she's representing the university in a new way: as a member of the annual Homecoming court. 

Francis found out she was selected to the court in the middle of practice when members of the Homecoming Royalty Committee showed up with balloons and a crown for her. Even though she saw them out of the corner of her eye, she still finished the set before jumping out of the pool to celebrate.

"I saw them cheering while I was in the middle of my set but I couldn't stop because I don't like to stop in the middle of a set," Francis said.  "So I finished what I was doing and then when I touched the wall they were all cheering so I hopped out of the pool and they gave me a crown and a poster." 

Being selected to the court came after a long application process. Once Francis found out she was nominated, she had to send in a formal application, which included five essays. From there, she had a 30-minute interview before finally being picked.

"I was in shock," she added.  "I was really happy though and I'm really excited. It's been an awesome experience so far and I don't want it to end."

Adding homecoming engagements to an already busy schedule as a student-athlete has been crazy for Francis, but she's taking it all in stride and enjoying every moment.

"I've had to swim on my own time and luckily I've had no exams, no papers, no projects this week," Francis said. "It's definitely been really hectic but I enjoy it. I'm loving meeting all these new people outside the athletic world and I'm creating friendships that I'm sad I'm only creating my senior year."

 While Francis has some incredible memories in the pool, this week has given her new one. And getting to show her school pride while making those memories makes it even sweeter.

"Representing Penn State is just awesome," Francis said. "I used to say that breaking the school record last year was my best Penn State experience and I think this might top it. This has been so much fun and we're not even halfway through the week yet."

For as much excitement as Francis has had outside of the pool this week, she has brought just as much excitement in the pool for the Nittany Lions throughout her Penn State career. In 2015-16 she broke the Penn State and McCoy Natatorium records in the 1650 freestyle with a time of 16:05.37 at the Penn State Invitational, and was named the Big Ten Co-Swimmer of the Week for her accomplishments.   One of many strong weeks for the two-time NCAA qualifier. 

Francis and the rest of her Nittany Lion teammates open up the regular season Thursday night, October 6th vs. Towson in McCoy Natatorium at 5:00 p.m.  

Students can vote for the Homecoming King and Queen at


By Anna Pitingolo, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Penn State saw a record number of athletes competing at this summer's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro and, with the start of classes, now has one of those athletes back on campus. 

Swimmer Shane Ryan competed for Ireland at the games in the 100-meter backstroke and 50-meter and 100-meter freestyle, and while he didn't bring home any hardware, he brought back a wealth of experience. 

"Not only did I just make the Olympics, I made the semifinal at the Olympics, so top 16 in the world," said the Haverford, Pa. native. "So all I can do is take what I can from that, even though I didn't swim as well as I wanted to in the semifinal, you always can learn from a swim. No matter if it's a bad swim or a good swim, you always can take what you can and move onto the next one."

As a senior on the Penn State swim team, Ryan now has a role as leader to the younger members. With his combined time as a collegiate and Olympic swimmer, Ryan is ready to pass along his expertise.

"I can take everything I learned to many other meets here at Penn State and try to mentor the younger guys here and try to pass my knowledge on to them," Ryan said. "So I'm just here to teach people and try to make myself better, and I'm trying to make them better as well."

Head coach Tim Murphy is looking forward to Ryan's new role as a leader on the team as well. And Murphy is excited that his team was able to bond over their support of Ryan while he was in Rio.

"Anytime you have an athlete of that caliber, it just helps the common bond of the team," Murphy said. "I think Shane having become more mature and experienced, the success that he has had more aligns with the goals that he has now and the goals he has for the team. It just helps bring the team that much more together and it's going to be a great year for us."

Ryan made the decision to try and compete for Ireland towards the end of his junior year at Penn State. He comes from an Irish background and has had his Irish passport for the past six years. Ryan's dad, Tom, came over from Ireland 30 years ago and "has yet to lose his accent," while his mom, Mary Beth, is on the board for Philadelphia's St. Patrick's Day Parade.

While he was training in Ireland, there was no shortage of family for Ryan to hang out with. Tom Ryan is one of ten children and is the only one that moved to the United States, so Shane Ryan was able to visit the rest of his family every weekend.

Once in Rio, Ryan bumped into Olympic legend Michael Phelps and got to talk to him for a few minutes when Phelps mistook the logo on Ryan's hat for something else. 

"Phelps came up to me and I was talking to him because I had an Irish hat on and it had kind of the same crest that the Pine Valley Club has in New Jersey," Ryan said. "I had played there once or twice so we got into talking about playing at Pine Valley. He's just a normal dude and it was really cool." 

As the new semester begins in Happy Valley, Ryan is back to bumping into classmates instead of bumping into Olympians, but he is ready to get back in the classroom and earn his degree.

"I've been excited to get back to class just so I can get my degree because there is a life after swimming," Ryan said. "I'm going to take swimming as far as I can after college but there is a life after swimming and just having a Penn State degree, you can't beat that."

Take Two at the Big Ten Championships

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11726314.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - It is the second week of the Big Ten Championship for the Penn State swimming and diving teams as the men's squad takes its turn traveling to West Lafayette. Last week, the women placed seventh overall in Ann Arbor.

The Nittany Lions had a record-breaking weekend by setting personal bests and creating a new standard relay time. Swimmers Alyson Ackman, Melissa Rodriguez, Katie Rowe and Nikki Price made a highlight performance on Friday, Feb. 19 touching third in the 400-medley relay with a time of 3:15.88. Head coach Tim Murphy said that he was impressed with the way the relay finished.

While he was proud of the team for placing in the top 10, Murphy said that there were some areas that could have been better, and you always want to be at the top.

"In some cases we struggled a little bit, it's part of the equation, it's the last meet of the season," Murphy said. "For majority of the folks on the team, whether they swam well or struggled, they have a lot to be proud."

Coach Murphy said that the men were just as excited to cheer on their teammates back in State College as they would if they were there. With the women setting the tone for the championships, the men were eager and ready to take their turns.

As for who the leaders may be this weekend, Murphy thinks that everyone will have an opportunity to contribute.

"Naturally, the seniors and upperclassmen will play a different role than the underclassmen. But really, everybody is all in," he said. "Everybody has an opportunity to get up, whether it's winning their heat, winning a race, or qualifying for the finals [Wednesday night] everyone is going to have an opportunity to add to the mix. "

Michigan won Big Tens last season for the fifth year, being one of the strongest teams at the Championships.  When asked who the biggest competition will be for the team, Coach is looking at as a clean slate.

"The meet starts off 0-0. For the most part we're up against all of them," he said. "There are certainly some teams that are a little stronger than we are. In this point in time, it doesn't really matter; we just take care of ourselves. Get up and get the performance on the board, and that score will take care of itself."

With the first two days down, several Nittany Lions have already met personal bests and are so far ranked ninth in the competition.

The competition will continue Friday starting at 11 a.m. with the 400-yard IM and is set to finish Saturday.

Nittany Lions Reduce Pressure Before Big Tens

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11698157.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's swimming and diving team begins its journey in the Big Ten Championships in Ann Arbor on Wednesday.

Along with the men's teams, the Nittany Lions took a different approach in training the last few weeks and head into the postseason with confidence.

In preparation for the eventful weekend, head coach Tim Murphy said that it was more about relaxing rather than kicking into high gear. Since the teams have been working hard for the past two months, it was time to take things a little slower and release some of the tension.

"We're trying to get them rested. As you go through the season, you're kind of tired most of the time," Murphy said. "We're going through a process now where we pick our spots, spread out the work that we do, and lessen the amount of work."

Over the past week, practices were shortened in order to give the swimmers extra time to heal. The goal of the shorter practices was to get the essential workouts done, then have the extra time for schoolwork and some well-rested sleep.

With all that extra time relaxing, Murphy said that he has noticed the teams coming to practice full of energy and excitement.

"There is a different feel to [practice.] Everyone is putting the final touches on what they are doing and how they're doing it," Murphy said. "The amount of work and the time we're putting in at the start of this rink is still here."

As the weeks went on, each practice meant one step closer towards the big competition. Murphy said there is added pressure, just like any other competitive event. The important thing is not to get lost in the pressure.

"Juices get flowing, nerves are flowing. I think a key thing is to pace themselves, and make sure that energy doesn't' make their brain kind of spin where they start to get scared," Murphy said. "We've worked too long and hard to be scared. I don't want them to try to drum up any extra energy and emotion when we walk out on deck to race. We want to take a step back and relax a bit."

When it comes to worrying about the swimmers losing focus and becoming too relaxed, Murphy said he has none.

"I think most of it is trying to pace them emotionally and pace their energy. When it's game time, they know what's in front of them," said Murphy. "I don't have that much worry about them not getting geared up enough."

Events will begin Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. and will go until Saturday. The men's team will have its turn next weekend in West Lafayette. 

Training Remains the Same as Nittany Lions Approach Senior Day

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11665202.jpeg By Michel Jaroszewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a few months of traveling on the road, the men's and women's swimming and diving teams are set to return to McCoy Natatorium on Saturday. The team will face Villanova in its last home dual meet of the season before championship season commences.

It will be a special day for the Nittany Lions as they represent the graduating class on Senior Day. For head coach Tim Murphy, this will be his third senior day with the club.

"Anytime you get to watch a graduating class, it shows their commitment to the program," Murphy said. "It shows how fond they are of what they're doing as a member of the team."

Murphy said that it is a nice touch to see family members come out to show their support for the team on celebratory days such as this. To be a collegiate swimmer for four to five years is a tough accomplishment and should be proudly recognized.

"It's always nice to see their families come down on deck, and share a little time with them," he said. "Giving them a brief moment where everybody is looking at them.

"To stick it out through the thick and thin, highs and the lows. That's all a part of the game [and] is something special. It's very rewarding to be a part of."

The team was able to get in some extra practice and down time after having a change in the schedule two weeks prior. With the original Navy meet cancelled due to snowstorms, and only the men competing last week, the women were able to have a break with some quality relaxing time.

"I think it might have been a little bit of a nice break," Murphy said. "Coming off of the training trip [in Florida,] we train real hard for two weeks, go right into school, then school starts to pile up. So we're trying to get them rested and refreshed.

"As much as we would've liked to compete, I think not traveling, not being on the bus, and resting a little bit more played to our favor."

Relaxation meant that there were no additional training sessions to replace the spare time. Coach said that regular training sessions were kept on task and the rest of the free time helped the swimmers save energy and catch up on schoolwork.

"I think we've done enough up to this point in time," he said. "I think it was good for the men because they had a little bit more time. But, you can't really measure what you haven't done. I think the ladies probably enjoyed the weekend off."

As far as competing for this weekend goes, it is more of a dress rehearsal for the team. With this being the last meet in the regular season, it is another opportunity to get in some racing practice and see other skills in the pool.

"What we'll look for is what's showing up. Do they need a little bit more rest to keep going? Do we need to focus on a certain skill aspect? There are certainly some things to learn from the racing, but we're not going to make it too complicated at this point in time," Murphy said.

When making sure the swimmers are still focused on other meets prior to Big Tens, Murphy said that with nonstop training for two months, the team is prepared. As for the seniors, it's all about embracing the moment, treating the game for what it is, and enjoying the rest of their time with the team.

"This is what we train for and it's a challenge. You don't have a game every Sunday where you peak each game," Murphy said. "In some respects, everything leading up to this point in time, you're trying to follow a progression.

"What we try to do is pace ourselves emotionally. Don't get too excited too soon, the meet will come and you're going to need that energy, and really try to have some fun with it."

The meet is set to begin at 1 p.m.          

Nittany Lions Continue Building Towards Postseason

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11620770.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - After a relaxing holiday break, the Penn State men and women's swimming and diving teams were back in action over the weekend as they traveled to Connecticut to compete against Yale and Rutgers. The women dominated in the dual meet with wins over Yale (196-157) and Rutgers (242-111), while the men fell short to Yale (189-153).

As the second half of the season started, the Nittany Lions were looking to use the weekend's meets as a springboard towards the upcoming postseason. Head coach Tim Murphy said that this was going to be a tough weekend physically for the team after coming off of the break. But the Lions answered the bell with a strong outing in Connecticut.

The Nittany Lions wasted no time over the break, taking advantage of the team's availability by traveling to Florida for their annual training trip. The main focus of the trip was to prepare for the Big Ten Championships that will take place in February.

Coach Murphy said that the team's time in the warmer weather paid dividends for training.

"It's healthy to be outside," Murphy said. "We got a nice mix of long course meters in the morning and short course yards at night. Our schedule really allowed them to put out the good effort."

Within the second week, Murphy said he saw positive actions from the swimmers while training.

"Attitude wise, team dynamic wise, we had a real nice rhythm going in that respect," Murphy said. "I was fairly pleased. I thought both from an individual standpoint and a team standpoint we got focused, consistent performances from them."

Murphy said that the one thing that the teams did well was talk to each other to help push and motivate during the practices. Since the practice times were different from a regular day during a semester, the energy was high.

"Their interaction during practice was spirited, and that's what we want," Murphy said. "When we get back and split up again into the two practices, it's kind of hard to work on that."

Though the training was kicked into high gear, the Nittany Lions made sure to save time for team bonding activities outside of the pool.

The majority of the coaching staff and team decided to partake in the drive to Jacksonville to support the football team at the Taxslayer Bowl on Jan.2. Even with Penn State falling short in the end, Murphy said that it was a great experience for the team to share.

As for the rest of the season, Murphy said he hopes to see aggressive swimming and to get fresher and fresher with each week.

Both the men's and women's teams travel to Navy on Saturday. The teams will host senior day on Feb. 16 before final preparations for the Big Ten Championships, which both take place in the latter half of February.

Swimming Senior Spotlight - Part Two

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11546334.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewski, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Following a successful weekend with competitions at Georgia and Princeton the senior spotlight coverage continues with Katie Rowe, Sierra Scoggin, Tim Maurer, and diver Logan Knauss.

The swimmers looked back at how their time has changed from freshman to seniors, and what it is like to have this year as their final season.

Q: How has your overall experience at Penn State been?
Rowe: "It's been amazing, I don't think that I could've asked for anything better."

Scoggin: "Awesome, it has been so much fun. I was born and raised Penn State. Living this dream of swimming at Penn State was my ultimate goal. Being able to achieve that and just loving every day here, taking it all in while you can."

Maurer: "It's been good, each year has been a lot different than the one before, so it's been a very diverse experience. Each year, we have a different group of guys that bring something special to the table and that's good, [it] changes things up."

Knauss: "It was a big change as far as finding a new group of people. The Penn State team was very welcoming as far as me being a transfer [from Wisconsin] and as a diver. I'm from relatively around here, so I've always sort of been in love with the Penn State atmosphere and culture. It wasn't too hard to adapt."

Q: How do you think you have improved from freshman year to now?
Rowe: "I definitely improved in the water a lot. Coming in, I was kind of in the middle of the pack. I think throughout the years, I nailed a push up in my special events. In general as a person I have grown."

Scoggin: "In every way; physically, mentally, academically, socially. Just all around, because you get to do so many things, you figure out what you like. As far as school goes, you figure out what you're into and what you're not into. In swimming, you really push your boundaries mentally and physically. That helps you translate into the real world and gets you going."

Maurer: "My first year here, I started out pretty out of shape. I've definitely gotten in shape and overall I've gotten a lot stronger in my swims."

Q: Do you have any pre-event rituals? If so, what are they?
Rowe: "Usually I listen to certain playlists. Just kind of relax and have fun with it."

Scoggin: "I love Ciara's "1,2 Step" because my name is Sierra. A couple of my friends have remixes that I really like to listen to. So if I listen to that a couple of times, I'm ready to go."

Maurer: "Not really, I like to stay as relaxed as I can before a race and not psyche myself out."

Knauss: "When I was a little kid I always used to do the exact same thing. A lot of divers do the same routine all the time. A lot of the time it's sitting in the same spot, or either not watching the competition or watching the entire competition. When you're in a competition, there could be anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes where you're sitting around, mentally preparing."

Q: Do you have a favorite memory/competition that you will remember and look back at?
Rowe: "I don't think anything is better than Big Tens. As a team, we all have a lot of fun there and we usually race really well. We just enjoy the experience because there is nothing like a conference meet."

Scoggin: "It wasn't my favorite, but it is one I'll never forget. We were down on a training trip my freshman year with all the old coaches. We were doing a spin class [and] it was glow in the dark. It was just this atmosphere in the room that everyone was trying their hardest. You could just tell that everyone was working so hard and everyone can see that final goal of winning Big Tens and getting to that final destination. That's a feeling that everyone felt in the room. Everyone was exhausted after, but we look around the room and knew what we were working for.


"Just [having] that feeling of all having the same goal, doing everything you possibly can and not holding back at all. That was probably one of the coolest things I've ever experienced."

Maurer: "I think the memory that stands out the most was the 2012 [Olympic] trials. That was one of the [most] fun meets I've ever been to. It was just a good experience."

Q: What are your goals post season/graduation?
Rowe: "Immediately after I graduate, I am going to get ready to go to [Olympic] trials. After that, just figure out exactly what I want to do. Probably vet tech, [that is] initially what I wanted to do, so maybe veterinarian school in the future."

Scoggin: "Post-season, trying to make Olympics trials. I'm sure that is everyone's goal, that's why we stay and train in the summer. Post graduation, I'm looking for a job. I'm a risk management major, so trying to get out into the corporate world and experience new things." 

Maurer: "I'm looking at trials [in June and July] to be my last meet. I'd liked to end it on a good note there."

Knauss: "When I graduate, my intention is to do one of two things. I'd like to work in government, that's my degree. Hopefully something like that goes through, but I've recently been applying for a lot of jobs within athletics. Considering that a lot of us make athletics our lives, it's only fitting for when you get out that you want to work with athletes. Furthering their experience."

Q: What does it feel like to be a senior and have this be your last season?
Rowe: "It feels weird to finally be the role models and head of the team. It's a lot different and you just feel a lot different. You have more of a presence on the team."

Scoggin: "It's crazy seeing everything transform. Starting out with one group of kids and watching everyone change. Here we are, where we thought we would never be at senior year. Looking back at freshman year, I didn't think all of us were going to make it. It's surreal, but it's definitely happening. It's cool to be in this position.

"You see so many people go through it, and you think 'Oh wow, that's going to be me next year,' and it actually is you. You know you've made it, you've done it."

Maurer: "It's exciting, it's been a long journey. It'll be bittersweet to see it end, but it'll be exciting to see what comes next and what the future holds."

Knauss: "It's scary. Even though it's six months away, every day feels like you're going to be thrown into the real world. Even the college atmosphere and the college athletics [background,] it's difficult to imagine myself rising to the occasion."

Francis Earns Top Spot in NCAA

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11497050.jpegBy Michele Jaroszewksi, Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Casey Francis turned in a record-setting performance over the weekend as she touched first in the women's freestyle mile race during the men's and women's swimming and diving invitational where the Nittany Lions swept UConn and Princeton at McCoy Natatorium.

Francis had a strong lead throughout the entire race, finishing at 16:05.37 and breaking the Penn State and McCoy Natatorium record. Her training partner, Katelyn Sowinski, was right behind her touching second at 16:25.78. The two swimmers now have the fastest times in the country so far, with third place belonging to Minnesota swimmer Sam Harding at 16:36.33.

"This week was a really hard week in practice, but I felt good the whole week and felt confident going into the meet," Francis said. "I thought I was going to do somewhere close to my best time, but didn't know that it was going to be that fast."

Earlier that event, Francis referred to the updated times on the board and saw that the fastest pool record time for the mile was 16:21. With that time in the back of her mind, she knew that she needed to be as fast or a little better.

"I thought, 'Ok, that's a pretty fast time,'" Francis said. "I was hoping for a 16:21 or better, and then to look up at the board and see a 16:05, I was just in shock."

With the mile race being the longest competition of the entire weekend, Francis said that this was nothing compared to other races she has competed in. Francis participates in open water swimming that has 5k and 10k races.

"The 10k takes [about] two hours," Francis said. "When we practice, we are practicing for two hours straight. So 16 minutes wasn't that bad."

When it came down to the actual competition, Francis said she felt at home being in lane five. This lane is special to Francis, for it is the lane she practices in everyday. During those practices, Francis and Sowinski work hard in preparation for races such as this.

"During practice, we're pretty much together the entire time. Some days, [Francis] will be on her game and I'll be the one trying to catch her. Other days it'll be the other way around," Sowinski said. "We try to push each other. Depending on the day, it sets it up for what it's going to be like at those big time races."

The time that these two swimmers spend training together pays off with big rewards at the end. Sowinski said that after she saw Francis earn that title, she couldn't have been happier.

"We've been working our butts off the past few weeks. Coming here and being able to continue [to] race each other, push each other, and see each other success is really cool," Sowiniski said. "I know it inspires both of us and encourages us to continue to work hard."

As for her own time in the mile free, Sowinski said that she was a little surprised by the final mark.

"I wasn't expecting to go that fast. Everyone was up and cheering the whole time which helped pushed me," Sowinski said. "Some of your best races you feel the worst, and then they end up working out."

For assistant coach Doak Finch, seeing the hard work that the two swimmers have put in to reach this milestone is a great sight to see.

"It's fantastic, it's great for them to get the recognition," Finch said. "They come here and put in the work. What we're putting together this year, it's special. They are working together as a team and the success it just going to continue to grow upon itself." 


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