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Nittany Lion Swimming and Diving Welcomes Navy

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion swimming and diving teams are back in action this weekend as they take on Navy and host one of their last dual meets of the season.

8505219.jpegComing off of a travel meet to Fayetteville, Ark. the swimmers and divers took the last two weeks to sharpen their skills and put in more hard work while keeping in mind their goals for the end of the season. Navy last competed against the University of North Carolina on Jan. 12 and looks to rebound after tough loses to the No. 16-ranked team.

Welcoming Navy to McCoy Natatorium, the swimmers and divers will use the opportunity to race in a dual meet setting for one of the last times this year before they shave and taper for the championship meets.

With Big Tens right around the corner, the Nittany Lions' practices have not lightened up for these next two dual meets. Senior Amy Lewis says that they have already started a countdown for Big Tens and that has remained the focus of their training.

"We've been doing a lot more fast sets in practice with high intensity," Lewis said. "We're going into this meet with a mindset that it's going to be fun to get up and race, but our mind is more on Big Tens. That's where we will get our excitement from."

This meet marks the second season in a row that Penn State will face Navy. Last year, the women came out victorious over Navy but the men fell short losing by a small margin of 10 points. This year, Navy will come into the meet with a 6-2 record for the women's team and a 5-4 record on the men's side.

Helping to lead the men's side, sophomore Nate Savoy has stepped up throughout the season and swam to four NCAA "B" cuts at the Georgia Invitational in December. Hoping to finish the season strong, Savoy says his goal is to swim towards his fastest in-season best times.

"I'm excited to get the chance to race and be in a home meet environment this weekend," Savoy said. "We have to be able to finish the season on a good note so we're aiming to go some of our fastest times in-season. It'll be fun to have parents and fans in the stands, which we don't always get when we travel."

In addition to a strong home crowd, having a supportive group of more than 60 swimmers and divers helps to set up an exciting environment that is different from the usual practice setting. Freshman Jenna Bickel noted this aspect of the team right away.

"I love how supportive this team is," Bickel said. "We're a close team and the upperclassmen have always been welcoming. We try to stand and cheer for the whole meet because it creates a much more exciting environment and one that will help us race faster."

For several seniors on the team, this meet brings up mixed emotions since they will only have two more opportunities to race in the pool that they have spent countless hours training in over the past four years.

"I'm glad our last two meets are at home especially since it's right before Big Tens," Lewis said. "I'm excited for this weekend but it also gives me chills knowing I don't have many meets left."

This meet will be a Code Blue Blast event to encourage more students to attend. They will earn points towards the reward system and can be entered to win Bon Jovi tickets. Competition starts at 11 a.m. this Saturday, Jan. 26. 

Dual Meets Set Up Championship Season

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The countdown begins until the Penn State swimmers and divers have the opportunity to put all of their hard work to the test at the 2013 Big Ten Championships. Until then, the Nittany Lions will have two more chances to compete in dual meets over the next few weeks.

8322128.jpegThe women start their championship season in 32 days in Minneapolis, Minn., while the men compete 39 days from now in Bloomington, Ind. The swimmers and divers will use the dual meets against Navy and Towson to fine-tune all the details they have been practicing day in and day out to ensure they are prepared for Big Tens.

Junior Mackenzie Powers looks forward to the dual meets coming up and plans to use them as rehearsals for competing in one of the top championship meets in the nation next month.

"I think having the opportunity to race and work on the small things, like starts and turns, throughout the season helps us prepare for when Big Tens comes around," Powers said. "These last two meets will be especially important because they are some of our last chances to race before we rest and taper."

Throughout the season, the swimmers and divers have traveled to five different states not only for competition, but also to feel what it will be like to swim in an unfamiliar setting after spending a day traveling.

Powers says that their travel trips to Indiana and Georgia earlier this season were good indications for what is to come at the end of the season.

"As a team we've had a lot of really good meets where we came together and we could all see that we were going in the direction of the goals that we have set," Powers said. "The next two meets will be important for us as well in that aspect to see where we are compared to how much time we have left before Big Tens."

In addition to getting used to traveling and competing at new sites, dual meets also help to prepare the athlete mentally for the challenges that Big Tens will bring. The swimmers and divers must be ready to compete for four days despite any fatigue they may feel from racing multiple times.

Matthew Salig says that dual meets help him prepare mentally as well as physically for the end of the season.

"Dual meets have three to four races on one day whereas the events at Big Tens are spread out a little bit more," Salig said. "This helps us mentally prepare for Big Tens knowing that we were able to race more times in one day at other meets earlier in the season."

An important aspect that the Nittany Lions established early in the season is creating an exciting atmosphere by standing on their feet and cheering their teammates on throughout the whole meet.

"Dual meets gives us a different kind of energy than if we just raced each other in practice," Salig said. "Our goal at dual meets is to create an atmosphere that is similar to Big Tens by getting behind each other."

Powers agrees with how important it is to use the atmosphere that her teammates create to help get through some of the tough dual meets throughout the season.

"Dual meets are just fun to get behind each other, especially in the meets where we are tired and we have to use the energy from our teammates to get us through," Powers said. "It's important situations like these where we see everyone is in it together and that we are all working towards a common goal that is going to help us reach our goals at Big Tens."

Starting the pre-season in August and ending the championship season in March with NCAA Championships, the swimmers and divers have to find ways to stay motivated through smaller meets before they get to the big shave and taper meets.

"I try to remember feelings I've had in the past like dropping a good race for my team to stay motivated," Salig said. "Knowing that you have teammates going through the same practices with you and racing with you at the end of the season helps me stay focused on our goals."

Next on their schedule, the swimmers and divers will welcome Navy to McCoy Natatorium on Jan. 26. The following weekend continues the tradition of the annual senior meet, which is against Towson on Feb. 2.  Then the women will have 18 days before they open their championship and take what they have learned through dual meet season to compete against other Big Ten contenders.

Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Open 2013

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - With the fall season behind them and the championship season still to come, the swimmers and divers traveled to unique locations to focus on quality training during the winter break.


The swimmers took an eight-day trip down to Naples, Fla. where they got the opportunity to train outdoors. The divers went to an invitational meet at the University of Tennessee where they spent four days competing against some of the top SEC schools.

The annual training trip and invitational meet has become a tradition for the men's and women's swimming and diving teams that helps the team bond, enjoy a different location, and gear up for the end of the season meets that are just a few weeks away.

"While we were in Florida, our goals and competing at Big Tens were always on our minds," said sophomore Allie Roberts. "Training trip is so hard that we use Big Tens as a way to push through the week and remember what we are working towards."

Sophomore Megan Siverling agrees with Roberts that Big Tens was a major focus of training trip, but Siverling adds that the training trip will help the confidence of everyone on the team when it comes time to compete.

"Training trip really prepares us for Big Tens because spending eight days doing nothing but hard training gives you the physical base and the confidence to do well at Big Tens," said Siverling. "There's been a huge difference from my freshman year to this year because I know what to expect. It helped me prepare better for what was coming."

The Nittany Lions finished off the tough training regime by competing against the University of North Carolina while still in Naples. The event format for this year was unusual but still provided the swimmers a great opportunity to compete against a top ACC school.

The events took relay styles, but only one of the events would actually be swum at Big Tens - the 200 medley relay. The other events were 3x100 relay of butterfly, backstroke, and breaststroke, a 500 freestyle relay, and a 3x500 freestyle relay.

Although the meet was not scored, the women won the 200-medley relay and the 3x100 breaststroke relay. The men won four out of the six events, including the 200 medley relay, 3x100 butterfly relay, 3x100 backstroke relay, and the 3x100 breaststroke relay.

While the swimmers were competing in Florida, the divers started their competition in Tennessee. Megan Springsteen and Emily Stotesbery both participated in the one-meter and three-meter competitions. Alex Marchinski led the men's side finishing 22nd while T.J. Schenkel followed close behind with a 30th place finish on the three-meter boards. Diver Joe Spinelli enjoyed the opportunity to gain confidence in a competitive environment while learning from some of the best divers in the country.

"I enjoyed meeting divers from other teams and seeing what I can learn from them," said Spinelli. "This helps for the end of the season because I get to compete in another meet setting and the extra practice during the break let me solely focus on diving."

With another meet coming up this weekend, Roberts looks forward to taking the work she put in over training trip and using it to help her race.

"Coming off of training trip, we will have a lot more confidence since we put in so much work," Roberts said. "We can take that training and put it towards the meet and competing against the other schools.

The swimmers and divers will be back in action on Jan. 12 as they travel down to Fayetteville, Ark. where they will compete against Arkansas and Missouri State. Competition is scheduled to start at 11 a.m.

Men's Swimming and Diving Fall Recap

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The men's swimming and diving team continues to build momentum after exceptional dual meet performances that led up to the Georgia Invitational in early December.

Head Coach John Hargis said that he is pleased with how the year has gone so far. 

7401123.jpeg"I think we've done really well. We've shown good progress through the year," Hargis said. "We've shown a good adaptation to the training this year. I think there are still some areas to improve that were glowing when we were down in Georgia racing against the very best."

The swimmers and divers came out with a win against West Virginia for their first dual meet. Then the Nittany Lions stayed home to host Villanova with another easy victory. After that, they traveled to Indiana to take on a top ACC team and another Big Ten contender at the tri meet against Virginia and Indiana. They came up just short of wins against these two schools.

The swimmers and divers did not let that stop them from performing well most recently at the Georgia Invitational in Athens, Ga. The men had one of the best opportunities they have ever seen to race several top ranked teams in the country. They came in fifth against Auburn, Georgia, Harvard, California, Virginia Tech, and Virginia.  

"We've been doing really well for both the guys and the girls," Andrew Sideras said. "It's good to be ranked so high because we've been working so hard. We have a lot of new kids that are already making an impact."

The results of the Georgia Invite led to a jump in their ranking in the College Swimming Coaches Association of America poll (20th).

Hargis said that he tries not to pay too much attention to the rankings but knows what they do during championship season is what really matters.

"I did see them and I think it's a compliment to the program and the kids and the hard work they've put in by being identified by outside people for their hard work," Hargis said. "Ultimately no matter where you're ranked we've got to be ready to swim fast in February and March and I think the kids understand that."

The men finished the Georgia Invite with 15 NCAA B cut performances. The NCAA comes up with two sets of time standards at the beginning of each season called A cuts and B cuts. An A cut guarantees the person a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships in March. The time standards for A cuts are much faster and very few swimmers across the nation reach this standard. At that point, swimmers with B cuts will be selected based on their times from fastest to slowest until the designated number of spots are filled.

Sophomore Nick Ankosko was among those who raced past the NCAA B time standards in the 500 free and 1,650 free.

"These B cuts mean a lot to me," Ankosko said. "It's a relief to have gotten two cuts out of the way at this point in the season. Now I can focus more on moving closer to getting my A cuts at the end of the season."

Ankosko has also faced changes in his training this year, but is excited to see these changes pay off in his racing.

"I have been really happy with how this season has gone for me so far," Ankosko said. "The coaches have me trying a type of training that is different than what I'm used to and I feel it has been working great for me in meets."

Hargis has enjoyed watching the swimmers succeed and working together as a team, but is also eager to continue working on the weaknesses to end the rest of the season strong.

"Seeing them really relate to their teammates and get behind them and really bond as a team has been fun to watch," Hargis said. "Seeing the rewards of their work each time we race was exciting. We will continue to make the proper adjustments that we have to make and continue to train at a level that is in relation to the goals that the kids have in front of them."

With a successful start to their season, the men will continue to put in the work that they've been putting in all year. The swimmers will have the opportunity to do this at their annual training trip in Naples, Fla. starting Dec. 28 and ending Jan. 5.  While they are there, they will take on the North Carolina on Jan. 3 in a dual meet. The divers will compete in Knoxville, Tenn. Jan. 3-5 for the Tennessee Collegiate Diving Invitational.  

Women's Swimming and Diving Recap of Fall

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's swimming and diving team is off to a strong start its season. With a rigorous preseason, several meets and then an invitational against some of the best teams in the country, there is no stopping the Nittany Lions from working extremely hard at reaching their goals. 

8396389.jpegHead coach John Hargis said the athletes have done very well up until this point, but there is still some room for improvement.

"I think we've shown good progress through the year," Hargis said. "We've shown a good adaptation to the training this year. I think there are still some areas to improve that were glowing when we were down in Georgia racing against the very best."

The women started the season off with a win against West Virginia in October, then hosted Villanova at home, also ending with a win. The swimmers and divers continued to gain in season racing experience as they went to Indiana to race Indiana and Virginia. With each meet, the times continued to come down and their confidence levels continued to go up leading into the Georgia Invitational.

Their most recent competition featured teams from all across the country, including Auburn, Georgia, Harvard, California, Virginia Tech, and Virginia. The Nittany Lions took advantage of the opportunity to race against some of the top ranked teams in the country.

"The best part so far has been being able to race and keep up with some of the top teams in the nation at the Georgia Invite," Caitlyn Karr said.

For Hargis, the highlight of the season has been seeing the success and rewards of their hard work pay off after each race.

"I've enjoyed watching the kids succeed," Hargis said. "The hard work the kids go through on a daily basis, seeing them swim well, seeing them smile, and seeing them enjoy the process has been exciting."

Since the swimming and diving teams are well into the season, the freshman are starting to get used to this style of racing and training. Megan Siverling has noticed this especially in Alyson Ackman.

"Aly Ackman has been a huge contributor to the team so far," Siverling said. "She's ranked first in the Big Ten in the 100 free, 200 free, and 500 free and posted several NCAA B cuts."

The NCAA comes up with two sets of time standards at the beginning of each season called A cuts and B cuts. An A cut guarantees the person a chance to swim at the NCAA Championships in March. The time standards for A cuts are much faster and very few swimmers across the nation reach this standard. At that point, swimmers with B cuts will be selected based on their times from fastest to slowest until the designated number of spots are filled.

Ackman swam to three individual NCAA B times in the 100-yard freestyle, 200-yard freestyle, and 500-yard freestyle. She was also part of the 800-yard freestyle relay (along with Kaitlin Jones, Caitlyn Karr, and Gabi Shishkoff) and 400-yard freestyle relay (along with Carolyn Fittin, Kaitlin Jones, and Paige Whitmire) that posted times under the NCAA B time standards.

"This season has been really fun for me but also hard," Ackman said. "I've loved the support of the team. I was the captain of the last team I was on and there were problems with negativity and I saw the difference being positive makes. I've been trying to bring that experience to make a difference on this team."

Looking ahead for what's to come later in February, Ackman is already excited for Big Tens.

"I can't wait to see where we place against the other Big Ten teams," Ackman said. "After seeing what I went in season at Georgia, I can't wait to see what will happen when I'm rested and fully tapered."

The College Swim Coaches Association of America has released the latest NCAA Women's Division I rankings, and the Penn State women have moved up to the 12th spot.

Hargis said he tries not to pay too much attention to the rankings that came out this past week, although he has seen them.

"I think it's a compliment to the program and the kids and the hard work they put in," Hargis said. "Ultimately no matter where you're ranked, we've got to be ready to swim fast in February and March and I think the kids understand that."

Up next for the swimmers is a trip to Naples, Fla. for their annual training trip. After several days of hard work, the Nittany Lions will take on the North Carolina on Jan. 5 while still in Florida. The divers will spend a few days in Knoxville, Tenn. for the Tennessee Collegiate Diving Invitational. 

Men's Swimming: A Look Into Grier's Career

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.
- After receiving All-American honors, qualifying for NCAA Championships his freshman and sophomore year, and setting pool and team records throughout his career, Sean Grier can add his most recent achievement of being named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week to the list.

6249178.jpegThe junior from Hummelstown, Pa., did not know he was going to be a swimmer right from the start. It was not until Grier was 11 years old that he made the decision to jump in the water and practice for the first time.

"When I was 11, one of my friends got me into it for something fun to do in the summer," Grier said. "I originally played hockey and I went with him and checked it out. From there, the coaches told me that I had natural talent and said you should try year-around swimming since winters are more competitive. It kind of took off from there."

Little did Grier know that listening to those coaches and sticking with the sport would lead to a collegiate career at Penn State. Grier had several options for what schools he could attend and represent their swim program, but when it came time to make the decision Penn State won him over.

"I looked at Ohio State, Tennessee, and University of Massachusetts," Grier said. "But the team here reminded me of my team at home. The bonds here made it seem like a brotherhood rather than just teammates and I felt like I belonged after my recruiting trip here."

Based on his experiences of traveling and watching other teams, Grier could not imagine competing for any team other than Penn State.

"Everyone here is so close," Grier said. "From what I've seen I feel like other teams aren't that close and they don't share the bond that we have."

Transitioning from club swimming into collegiate practices and meets two years ago, Grier noticed a change in the level of intensity he was expected to give every day.

"I had the same coach for high school and age group and I thought he did a really good job of training us," Grier said. "But when you come to the college level it's completely different and there's a whole new intensity. That was the hardest thing to get used to."

Grier has also taken advantage of having teammates there for him the moment he stepped on campus his freshman year and developing a strong connection with them that only student-athletes can experience.

"My favorite part of my career is just being able to be a part of something rather than being a regular student here and having that bond before anything else," Grier said. "Your teammates are your teammates from the start and that's been the best part."

For any athlete, the daily grind presents challenges both mentally and physically. Grier handles the mental side of swimming by staying focused on his goals and what he wants to achieve for that season.

"I think about where I want to be at the end of the season because as much as a set can suck, I tell myself that the coaches know what they are doing and it's all going to pay off at the end of the season," Grier said.

On race day, Grier changes his mentality to relaxing and having fun with the opportunities in front of him.

"I do whatever I need to do for that day," Grier said. "I always swim my best when I'm having fun and laughing behind the blocks, but when the whistle blows it's time to focus in."

With two meets already down, Grier says that he is on the right track to meet his goals not only for himself, but also for the team.

"For me, I think that's going well for how I've been training and doing at meets," Grier said. "This season will be successful if we reach our goals that we set at the beginning of the year. Being able to reach most of these goals includes placing at Big Tens, NCAA's, and at dual meets. It would also be nice if we could have an undefeated dual meet season."

Looking ahead, Grier is already excited for the championship meets at the end of the season and having the chance to represent Penn State on a national level.

"I don't want to skip over the rest of the season but this year we have one of the best teams that we've ever had and I'm hoping we can make a statement not only in the Big Ten, but in the nation as well," Grier said.

Last year Grier broke a 10-year old team record in the 100 butterfly. He also swam the butterfly leg of the 400 medley relay that placed eighth nationally at NCAAs.  This past week he has been named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week, which is voted on by members of the athletic department.

"I think it's cool to be recognized in this way because usually swimming isn't a sport that's always on top," Grier said.

Grier's performance at the meet against the Villanova contributed to being named Highmark Student-Athlete of the Week where he broke a 13-year old pool record in the 100 Backstroke and he is now ranked second nationally on collegeswimming.com in this event.

"I know all of the pool records of the events I swim so every time I get in there I have something to strive for," Grier said. "Breaking this record means a lot for right now and for where we are in the season. It's a good sign that I can get up and swim that fast at this point of the year. For the short term, I think it's a pretty good achievement."

Men's Swimming & Diving Sweeps Villanova

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the first home meet of the season, the Nittany Lion men's swimming team topped Villanova by 130 points, 211-81.


swimming 5.jpgThe dual meet followed a 16-event format featuring the 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay, 500 and 1,000 Freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, and 100 and 200 of each stroke for the swimming side. Diving included the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.  The Nittany Lions dominated by winning all 16 of the events.

Head coach John Hargis was pleased with how the swimmers raced and looks forward to racing even faster next week against IU and UVa.

"As a whole, I thought we raced well today," Hargis said. "I thought we were looking forward a little bit too much and didn't fully embrace the opportunities. We swam through it too much. For

next weekend, we have to find a way to get a lot faster."

Hargis saw standout performances from sophomore Nick Ankosko and junior Sean Grier who helped contribute to Penn State's high score.

"Sean Grier and Nick Ankosko both had really good swims," Hargis said. "Nick was solid all the way through and that was his best racing since he's been here. Grier's backstroke was a really good race and he was a little bit upset about his fly but that goes to details."

Sophomore Nick Ankosko has been leading the distance events in the past two meets and won the 500 and posted a time of 9:16.50 in the 1,000 Freestyle, improving 9.85 seconds from the meet against WVU. Junior Sean Grier was also a standout for the men where he won the 100 Butterfly and 100 Backstroke, setting a new pool record of 48.00. This time currently ranks Grier with the second fastest time in the country on collegeswimming.com.  

"The atmosphere today was awesome," Grier said. "I love when people get into it and that makes it easier to get up and swim fast. I'm looking forward to racing Big Ten competition and to go against the top ACC team next weekend to see where we are at and where they are at and this will give us good perspective leading into mid-season."

When the freshmen enter college, the number of events they swim in one-day changes, there's shorter amount of time in between events, and there are numerous resources available to help the athlete's body recover. Hargis says that the freshmen are starting to understand these changes and are adjusting well to competing in dual meets.

"The freshmen are getting more used to it and improving meet to meet," Hargis said. "They are learning to understand how to warm up and how to swim as much as they do. These meets go on for three hours and they're learning how take care of their bodies through a long meet, and figuring out what it takes to be primed and ready to go."

Freshman Shane Ryan is new to the collegiate racing scene but uses being a part of a big team to his advantage.

"It's a lot of fun being up here with a big team," Ryan said. "I haven't had that before and it just makes it a lot easier mentally. I came here because I knew they would be a really really good team this year and wanted to be a part of that. I have some things to work on for Indiana but mentally I'm in the right mindset."

The divers swept both events with sophomore TJ Schenkel leading the way. The divers have added more practices, which sophomore Joe Spinelli says contributes to their success.

"I thought I did pretty well today," Spinelli said. "We've been practicing more than usual and I think that's paid off for everyone. We've had longer practices which let's us do more dives. We are just going to keep doing what we've been doing, do more repetitions to help get us more in control of the dives and help us finish them better."

The Nittany Lions will be back in action on Friday Nov. 16 in Bloomington, Ind. They will compete against IU, which will give them a preview of the Big Ten competition for this year and they will also compete against UVa. 

Women's Swimming & Diving Defeat Villanova

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - In the first home meet, the Nittany Lions knocked off the Villanova Wildcats at McCoy Natatorium on Saturday morning by a score of 177-166.  This victory marks the 19th win for the Nittany Lions against Villanova in their last 20 dual meets.

women 1.jpgThe dual meet followed a 16-event format featuring the 200 Medley Relay, 200 Freestyle Relay, 500 and 1,000 Freestyle, 200 Individual Medley, and 100 and 200 of each stroke for the swimming side. Diving included the 1-meter and 3-meter boards.  Of the 16 events, the Nittany Lions placed first in 13 of them.

Head coach John Hargis was pleased with how the swimmers raced and looks forward to racing faster next week against IU and UVA.

"As a whole, I thought we raced well today," Hargis said. "I thought we were looking forward a little bit too much and didn't fully embrace the opportunities. We swam through it too much. For next weekend, we have to find a way to get a lot faster."

Hargis thought Megan Siverling's 1,000 Freestyle was a standout swim for the women's side and said that Gabi Shishkoff's, Alyson Ackman's and Jones' performances today could be added to that list.

"Siverling had a great thousand," Hargis said. "Shishkoff continues to swim well and had a great 500. She's been battling injuries so we've been managing that. Alyson Ackman and Kaitlin Jones are doing well for the freshman. We're starting to see kids develop and that's what's fun about this part of the year."

Shishkoff has continued to step up with a win in the 500 Freestyle and 200 Individual Medley as well as finishing third in the 200 Free with a new best time. Winning the 1,000 Freestyle with a time of 10:06.24 and finishing second in the 500 Freestyle, Siverling helped to contribute to Penn State's second win of the year.

"I was nervous because I knew Villanova had a couple of girls who are fast distance swimmers but I was also excited because I saw it as a challenge," Siverling said. "I felt like it was an even paced race and I was happy to see that I improved a little from West Virginia."

Adjusting to college training and meets is not an easy task for any freshman, but for Ackman it has been even tougher since she is from Canada and has never swum yards before.

"I've never raced yards and I've been told that the comparison times from short course meters to yards isn't very accurate so I'm starting to see where I am compared to everyone else and starting to understand what the times mean," Ackman said. "I thought I did pretty good in the 200 back and it was nice to get good jobs from everyone to reassure that I was doing well. The 500 is tricky because it's a completely new race for me. I'm getting better I just need more experience."

The divers also made significant contributions with junior Megan Springsteen leading the way and winning both the 1-meter and 3-meter events.

"My dives were the best out of the season or in my whole career today," Springsteen said. "I was really consistent and didn't have any missed dives. I concentrated on things that I needed to do for my dives and stayed focused with a good attitude."

The Nittany Lions will have a few days to get back into training before they have the chance to race against Big Ten competition and one of the leaders of the ACC. They will take on IU and UVA in Bloomington, Ind. Action starts at 5 p.m. on Friday Nov 16.

Swimming and Diving Welcomes Villanova

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -
The Nittany Lions will host their first home dual meet of the season against Villanova on Saturday Nov. 10 starting at 11 a.m. in the McCoy Natatorium.

After a victory on the road against WVU, the men and women's swimming and diving teams have momentum going into the meet. Both teams will look to improve their record and have another victory early in the season.

8288253.jpegHaving more time to prepare for this weekend will benefit the athletes and will set them up well for the racing opportunities that this weekend will present. Junior Shane Austin used the time to his advantage to train more specifically for his events and looks forward to the opportunity to race some of the events he normally does not swim.

"I expect the team to swim better than against WVU since we've had more time to train for our specific events over the past three weeks," Austin said. "I want to improve on my times for the same reason. I am getting a chance to swim events that I don't always get to swim and expect to do well in those."

The Villanova Wildcats defeated LaSalle and James Madison but fell short against West Virginia on the women's side. For the men, Villanova lost to both LaSalle and West Virginia. This will be the third meet for the Wildcats since the scheduled quad meet in New Jersey against Connecticut, Georgetown, and Rutgers was rescheduled due to weather.

Saturday will mark the first home meet for the Nittany Lions and for several of the swimmers it will be one of their last home meets. Senior Jeff Gomez plans to seize one of his last opportunities with the supportive Penn State fans in the stands.

"As a senior, it's weird knowing it's my last year," Gomez said. "I'm going to take advantage of all the home meets we have left. I like home meets better because we have a bigger fan base and we have home folks to cheer you on."

While Gomez is well versed in how the dual meets work, many freshmen are still learning how collegiate competitions work. Leadership from upperclassmen plays a key role in helping the freshmen adjust. As a junior this year, Chelsea Weedman has noticed a difference in her role on the team this year.

"As upperclassmen we know how everything goes and what meets are like," Weedman said. "We know what it's like to step up in dual meets and we have to take on a leadership role and guide the freshman. We take them under our wing as they adjust."

This meet is the first annual "THON" meet that will help raise money for the Four Diamonds Fund, which will go towards helping kids fight pediatric cancer. The swimmers will wear caps made especially for the event that says "FTK" on one side and the Four Diamond emblem on the other side.

Several of the swimmers and divers are excited to swim for such a good cause and represent the university in this way. Gomez says that this is one of the reasons he is excited for Saturday.

"I'm excited it's the THON meet because it's a good cause," Gomez said. "It's always good to have something to swim for."

Weedman agrees with Gomez that this meet will be more exciting since it is supporting THON in addition to the opportunity to race in a dual meet atmosphere.

"I'm excited to get up and race," Weedman said. "I'm swimming the 200 free which isn't one of my best events so it will be a chance for us to mix up some of our events. It's also the THON meet so it will be exciting and more meaningful. We are all going wear caps that say 'FTK' on them."

Swimming and Diving; 'Having a Why'

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - To motivate the athletes during preseason and into the season, head coach John Hargis drew inspiration from the former football player Eric Thomas.

He shared the idea behind what it means to have a "why" with the swimmers and divers and encouraged them to find the reason as to why they get up every morning and continue to train at the level that they do.

Hargis creates a theme every year that provides guidance towards what the athletes should be striving towards to achieve the goals they have set for the end of the season.

"You go back and look through all the one's I've used, they all kind of add up and stack upon themselves and they all kind of mesh in the same way," Hargis said. "This year whether it be sacrifice or whether it be using why, we got to have a why."

Hargis and the student-athletes explain more about what "having a why" means to them and how they use it to motivate themselves each and every day. 

@GOPSUSPORTS

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