By Michele Jaroszewski, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the 2015-2016 season halfway complete, seniors on the men's and women's swimming and diving teams have plenty to look forward to during the next few months. The Nittany Lions have a total of 14 senior swimmers, all whom are anticipating graduation with each passing day.
Sinatro, Chelsea VanderWeele and Jon Seiferth, were the first bunch of seniors
to look back and share how being a part of this program molded their college
experience in a continuing series on GoPSUsports.com.
Q: What has your overall experience at Penn State been like?
Sinatro: "It's been a blast, I've had so many opportunities just from swimming alone and academics. I made some great friends and couldn't have picked a better university to go to."
VanderWeele: "It's been really positive, I've had opportunities to do different things with and outside the swim team. I feel incredibly blessed on that aspect, I don't think I could see myself anywhere else."
Seiferth: "Amazing, way better than I expected. I never thought that I was going to come to Penn State, I thought I was going to go somewhere South or out West, I didn't want to be this close to home. Coming [to Penn State] was definitely one of the best decisions of my life."
Q: How do you think you have improved over the years?
Sinatro: "I think the main way that I have improved is through my attitude. Just having more fun and approaching each meet with a racing mentality."
VanderWeele: "Swimming, I feel like I have improved my times, but I've also developed a new mentality for the sport itself. When you're in high school, you might be one of the top scorers. When you get here, you're competing on a higher level. You kind of get a new perspective and I've grown from that.
"I've never been one to shy away from trying new things and I think being here only amplified that [by] getting involved with things outside of swimming. Overall it's been a good growth."
Seiferth: "I'd say I finally got my time management under my belt. It took a couple of years, but after having to be forced to do it with swimming, school, homework, sleep and socializing on top of that.
"I definitely got better in the pool, I've seen lots of improvements. My times have dropped each year, even in the first year when we had a different coaching staff."
Q: What is one of the main things you have learned throughout your college career?
the end of the day, we take care of each other. Everyone has an off day, in and
out of the pool."
VanderWeele: "As cliché as this sounds, it is probably to never give up and try a second time. I think it's very easy to get discouraged when you're training 20 hours a week. With swimming, you only have two big meets in the year, so you put all this pressure on it and it's easy to get stuck on one bad race."
Seiferth: "I would say, don't put things off, do things as soon as you can. With swimming, it's letting the coaches know, 'Hey I have something coming up, is there anyway we can work something out?'
"With school, getting your homework done as soon as you get it or studying as soon as you find out the information. There have been too many times that I put it off until the end. It's such a close call and your sweating bullets just trying to get things done, and it's not a fun time."
Q: What are your future goals? Post-season and/or post-graduation.
Sinatro: "I plan on taking a gap-year, doing something in the medical field before I hopefully attend medical school."
VanderWeele: "I'd like to stay involved with sports. I'm currently a marketing major and would like to do something in sports marketing. I'd love to work with the Paralympics or Wounded Warriors and do events planning for either organization."
Seiferth: "I would like to attend medical school. I've taken the MCATS once, didn't score as well as I wanted [to], but I'm going to go back and take them again. Once I do, I'm going to hit it hard and try to get it out to as many schools as I can. I had originally thought of Osteopathic medicine, but I'm keeping an open mind. If I had to choose one now I'd probably be a primary care physician.
"I'm also talking to Naval recruiters. I'd like to do officer training for the Navy, it has always been a dream of mine. The Naval Academy was [originally] my first choice over Penn State, but the application process was so long a grueling, it didn't work out."
Q: As a senior, how have you helped the younger teammates throughout the season?
Sinatro: "I have four years of experience of big meets. When [their] struggling in the pool, I hope that I am someone that the younger teammates can come to and ask for advice and be a positive influence on deck. Practice is hard, so joking around is definitely necessary. "
VanderWeele: "Just being there. There are a lot of seniors this year and I think it's different from any year before since I've been here. It's kind of overwhelming for the underclassmen because you have so many people you can go to. You can ask any one of the seniors a question and get 12 different answers.
"I think being someone that they're comfortable talking to, being a role model, encouraging them, helping them stay on top of thing and being as a mentor is the biggest thing about being a senior."
Seiferth: "I think I've instilled some advice in them. I've definitely helped a lot of people get themselves on the right track. Keeping the team positive and motivated, trying to get that tradition, keeping all traditions going. I've really helped carry those on from upperclassmen and then bringing them to the underclassmen and newbies."