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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
200 Freestyle Relay
200 Individual Medley
400 Medley Relay
200 Medley Relay
400 Individual Medley
800 Freestyle Relay
400 Freestyle Relay