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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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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."

Nittany Lions Set to Compete in NCAA Championships

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
As the first season under head coach Tim Murphy comes to a close for the men's swimming and diving team, the athletes will have one more chance to compete at the highest level of the sport as they travel to Austin, Texas, for the 2014 NCAA Championships.

Coming off of a strong showing at Big Tens and taking huge steps in the right direction, the Nittany Lions have spent the past three weeks making adjustments to ensure they will be ready to compete in one of the toughest competitions of their careers. The athletes will be taking what they learned from Big Tens, working on their technique, and solidifying their race plans before competing against the best in the nation. 

Shane Ryan will be one swimmer to keep an eye on while he competes in his first NCAA's. After historic performances at Big Tens in his individual events, the sophomore has made a name for himself and got people in the swimming community talking.

"It definitely got my name out there. Before I went to Big Tens, there was no mention of where I would stand in the mix so that really got me riled up. Going into NCAA's, my name is out there and I think we really made a statement at Big Tens that Penn State is coming to NCAA's and we're coming in with a fight," Ryan said. 

In order to qualify for this highly competitive meet, the swimmers had to swim to certain times in order to be considered for the event. All year, the swimmers are aiming for an "A" cut hoping to automatically qualify for the meet.

The NCAA releases time standards at the beginning of each year with "A" and "B" cuts. If the swimmer goes equal to or faster than the "A" cut, then they will automatically have a spot to compete in the NCAA Championships.  However, if the swimmer goes a "B" cut, they are not guaranteed to make it into the meet. Swimmers with "B" cuts must wait until all of the conference meets across the country are over to see if they will be invited to the meet based on how they rank compared to others in the event.

Qualifying for the meet individually are swimmers junior Nick Ankosko, Ryan, and junior Nate Savoy. In addition, the swimmers competing in the relay events are James Wilson, Shane Austin, Scott Heil, and Mathew Stasiunas.

Here's a closer look at each of the swimmers and where they rank in their individual events going into this national level meet.

Nick Ankosko

-        200 Freestyle - 54th

-        500 Freestyle - 26th

-        1650 Freestyle - 32nd


Ankosko swam in his first NCAA Championships last year where he competed in the 1,650 Freestyle and was a part of the 800 Freestyle Relay. With this experience, he will be competing in the 1650 again as well as the 200 Freestyle and 500 Freestyle. At Big Tens, the East Brunswick, N.J. native finished sixth overall in the 500 Freestyle and broke his own school record in prelims. The junior made the C final in the 200 Freestyle at Big Tens and finished 18th. On the last day in Michigan, Ankosko was the top finisher for the Nittany Lions in the 1650 Freestyle where he brought back an 11th place finish. Building off of a strong Big Tens, Ankosko looks to compete in his second NCAA's of his career and is invited in with "B" qualifying times.


Shane Ryan

-        50 Freestyle - 17th

-        100 Backstroke - 1st

-        100 Freestyle - 4th


After swimming in his first Big Tens, Ryan will now make the transition into representing Penn State in his first NCAA Championship. After putting up some of the best performances the Penn State program has seen historically, the sophomore enters NCAA's ranked first in the 100 Backstroke. This is a feat that separates Ryan from the rest of the swimmers and only a few athletes can accomplish this throughout their careers. The sophomore won the 100 Backstroke at Big Tens in route to being the first swimmer to stand on top of the podium since 2003. After this performance, his time automatically qualified him for NCAA's. In the 100 Freestyle on the final day of Big Tens, he won another individual title, setting the Penn State school record, Big Ten Championship meet record, and the overall Big Ten record. He enters NCAA's with an NCAA "A" qualifying standard.

With his outstanding performances, he left Big Tens as the first Penn State swimmer to ever be named the Swimmer of Big Ten Championships. Taking the name he made for himself at Big Tens just a few weeks ago, the Havertown, Pa. native will take his experience to represent the swimming and diving program on the national level. In addition to the 100 Backstroke and 100 Freestyle, Ryan will also compete in the 50 Freestyle. The sophomore is ranked 17th and is right in the mix to qualify for finals and see a second swim in this event. Hoping to close out a historic season on a high note, Ryan will finish out his sophomore season at NCAAs.

Nate Savoy  

-        100 Backstroke - 6th

-        200 Backstroke - 14th

-        200 Individual Medley - 45th   


Savoy enters the meet with two NCAA "A" standard qualifying times in the 100 Backstroke and 200 Backstroke. He will also compete in the 200 Individual Medley where he reached a NCAA "B" time. Savoy finished second at Big Tens in the 100 Backstroke adding to a historic night and will enter the meet seeded sixth in one of his best events. In addition, in the 200 Backstroke, Savoy was the first Nittany Lion in this event and finished fourth at Big Tens.

This will be the junior's third NCAA appearance. Last year, he was named two-time All-American and two-time All-American honorable mentions for his performances. He swam in the 200 Medley relay, which finished sixth in the nation in addition to the 400 medley relay. Individually he swam to a 14th place finish in the 100 Backstroke and 16th-place finish in the 200 Backstroke, scoring huge points for the Nittany Lions. Taking this experience and knowing what it's like to compete at this level, the Reading, Pa. native will close out another strong season in Austin, Texas.

Prelims start at 11 a.m. and finals begin at 7 p.m. each day. Follow the results as the Nittany Lions start competing Thursday, March 27. Below is the order of events for the 2014 NCAA Championship meet.

Thursday
200 Freestyle Relay
500 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
50 Freestyle
400 Medley Relay
One-meter Diving

Friday
200 Medley Relay
400 Individual Medley
100 Butterfly
200 Freestyle
100 Breaststroke
100 Backstroke
Three-meter Diving
800 Freestyle Relay

Saturday
200 Backstroke
100 Freestyle
200 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
Platform Diving
400 Freestyle Relay

Nittany Lions Close Out Season at NCAA Championships

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Competing to a third place finish at the Big Ten Championships, the women's swimming and diving team came back to McCoy Natatorium already looking ahead to the challenge of one of the most competitive meets out there - the 2014 NCAA Championships.

After anxiously awaiting the preliminary psych sheet to see where the Nittany Lions stack up against the top competition in the nation, 12 swimmers found out they would represent Penn State and compete in 17 events in Minneapolis, Minn.

The NCAA releases time standards at the beginning of each year with "A" and "B" cuts. If the swimmer goes equal to or faster than the "A" cut, then they will automatically have a spot to compete in the NCAA Championships.  However, if the swimmer goes a "B" cut, they are not guaranteed to make it into the meet. Swimmers with "B" cuts must wait until all of the conference meets across the country are over to see if they will be invited to the meet based on how they rank compared to others in the event. 

The 12 swimmers making the trip to Minneapolis include: Alyson Ackman, Mackenzie Powers, Melissa Rodriguez, Katie Rowe, Gabi Shishkoff, Megan Siverling, Katelyn Sowinski, and Chelsea Weedman will all be competing in individual events while Katelyn Miller, Carolyn Fittin, Haley Sinatro, and Caitlyn Karr will be representing Penn State as relay swimmers.

The Nittany Lions automatically qualified in all five relays. With relays counting as double points towards the team score race, Penn State will have to take advantage of the relay opportunities. Four swimmers will compete in each relay in the 200 and 400 Freestyle Relay, 200 and 400 Medley Relay, and the 800 Freestyle Relay.

Here's a closer look at each of the swimmers and their seed in their individual events that they will be racing in on the national stage.

Alyson Ackman

-        200 Freestyle - 9th

-        100 Freestyle - 12th


The sophomore from Montreal, Quebec, holds the school record in the 100 and 200 Free, which were set at the Big Ten Championships this year. At Big Tens, Ackman won the 200 Free and finished second in the 100 Free. She led off the 400 Medley relay to a second place finish and was on the 800 Free relay and 200 Free relay swimming to fourth-place finishes. Hoping to continue the momentum she has built in her second year, Ackman will use her experience from last years NCAAs to help her prepare for this highly competitive meet.

Mackenzie Powers

-                100 Butterfly - 7th

-        100 Backstroke - 14th

-        200 Backstroke - 49th


After swimming to a first place finish with a new meet record, a new Big Ten record, and a new school record in the 100 Butterfly, Powers will compete in her fourth NCAA Championships. In addition to her record-breaking performance, she also finished second in the 100 Back and sixth in the 200 Back. She played an integral role helping the medley relays finish fifth in the 200 Medley Relay and second in the 400 Medley Relay. The Sycamore, Ill. native will head into NCAAs ranked well individually and continue building on her strong season in her last swim meet of her career.

Melissa Rodriguez

-        200 Individual Medley - 76th

-        100 Breaststroke - 27th

-        200 Breaststroke - 19th


From Chihuahua, Mexico, the sophomore made big contributions for the Nittany Lions at Big Tens. Rodriguez finished second in the 200 Breaststroke, fourth in the 100 Breaststroke, and 14th in the 200 Individual Medley. In her second NCAA Championships, Rodriguez will take her momentum from Big Tens where she set a new school record in the 200 Breaststroke and will make contributions on the medley relays as the Breaststroke leg.

Katie Rowe

-        200 Butterfly - 13th

-        100 Butterfly - 42nd

-        200 Individual Medley - 79th


In her first NCAA Championship appearance, Rowe will compete in both Butterfly events and the 200 Individual Medley. The sophomore from Glenville, N.Y. had one of her best Big Ten performances yet as she finished sixth in the 100 Butterfly, second in the 200 Butterfly, and fifth in the 200 Backstroke. Rowe's time in the 200 Butterfly puts her in the third-best mark of the program.

Gabi Shishkoff

-        400 Individual Medley - 20th

-        500 Freestyle - 37th

-        200 Butterfly - 43rd


Shishkoff will be competing in her second NCAA Championships meet in the 400 Individual Medley, 500 Freestyle, and 200 Butterfly. At Big Tens, Shishkoff had a strong showing in all of her individual performances. She finished fourth in the 400 Individual Medley, seventh in the 200 Individual Medley, and ninth in the 200 Butterfly. The senior will end her collegiate career in one of the most exciting atmospheres as she competes in Minneapolis, Minn.

Megan Siverling

-        500 Freestyle - 56th

-        1650 Freestyle - 30th


Ever since Siverling was a freshman, she has continued to move up in the rankings in the distance events. Competing in her third Big Tens, she swam to a fifth-place finish in the 1650 Free, 10th-place finish in the 500 Free, and a 19th-place finish in the 200 Free. She will look to close out another strong season and keep racing tough in the 1650 Free and 500 Free at the NCAA Championships.

Katelyn Sowinski

-        200 Butterfly -35th

-        500 Freestyle - 40th

-        1650 Freestlye - 43rd


Looking to cap off an impressive freshman year, Sowinski will swim the same three events in Minneapolis that she swam at Big Tens. The Severna Park, Md. native made big contributions for the team at her first Big Tens finishing sixth in the 500 Free, 10th in the 1650, and eighth in the 200 Butterfly. As Sowinski heads to her first NCAA's she will put everything she has learned to the test in one of the most competitive competitions she has seen up until this point of her career.

Chelsea Weedman

-        200 Butterfly - 48th 

-        200 Individual Medley - 51st 

-        400 Individual Medley - 39th


In Weedman's fourth NCAA's she will be competing in both Individual Medley events and the 200 Butterfly, which she placed 13th in at Big Tens this year. The senior from Poway, Calif., swam the same three events last year and will use her years of experience to capitalize and close out an outstanding collegiate career in her final chance to race as a Nittany Lion.

Prelims start at 11 a.m. and finals begin at 7 p.m. each day. Follow the results as the Nittany Lions start competing Thursday, March 20. Below is the order of events for the 2014 NCAA Championships meet.

Thursday
200 Freestyle Relay
500 Freestyle
200 Individual Medley
50 Freestyle
400 Medley Relay
One-meter Diving

Friday
200 Medley Relay
400 Individual Medley
100 Butterfly
200 Freestyle
100 Breaststroke
100 Backstroke
Three-meter Diving
800 Freestyle Relay

Saturday
200 Backstroke
100 Freestyle
200 Breaststroke
200 Butterfly
Platform Diving
400 Freestyle Relay

Nittany Lions Take Strides Forward at Big Ten Championships

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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 standpoint."

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," Murphy said.

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 nice feeling."

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."