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Women's Swimming and Diving, Shishkoff Makes an Impact

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Waking up at 5 a.m. for practice and coming back to the pool in the afternoon after lifting at some point during the day is something junior Gabi Shishkoff has been well accustomed to.

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Since this will be her 16th year as a competitive swimmer, Shishkoff knows what it takes to be a committed athlete at the varsity level while still maintaining the grades needed to stay in Schreyer Honors College.

"I started swimming on a summer league team where I would just do 12-and-a-halfs," Shishkoff said. "I wanted to get faster and one of the coaches from the summer league team was also a coach for a year-round team. He said we should try it out so the next season I practiced with a year-round team and really never looked back."

Jumping into the pool at just 4 years old, Shishkoff did not know where her swimming career would take her. When it came time to go through the recruiting process during her junior year of high school, it was an easy decision to go to Penn State.

"I couldn't imagine myself going any where else because of both the school and team atmospheres," Shishkoff said. "There's nowhere I could go that could compare to the school spirit that Penn State has."

In addition to the school spirit, Shishkoff noted strong team dynamics while she was visiting that helped to separate Penn State from the other schools she was interested in.

"I chose Penn State because we spent a lot of time with the team on my recruiting trip and I could tell the team had a family atmosphere," Shishkoff said. "I also liked how well the guys and girls teams got along and how well they trained together."

Entering college can be an intimidating feeling, but knowing there are 50-60 other teammates that are going through the same challenges and are there to help along the way makes the whole experience different.

"My favorite part about this team is having a built in support system and just a group of friends that is always around," Shishkoff said. "Whenever I have a good swim, my teammates are happy for me and if I have a bad swim there's always someone there to tell me not to give up and to keep going."

Along with the other juniors and seniors on the team, Shishkoff says a change to her role on the team this year is that she is expected to help guide the underclassmen.

"It's been different being expected to be a leader versus being an underclassman," Shishkoff said. "You're the one telling people what's going on and being positive for them."

Helping to lead the underclassman has not been the only difference this year. Shishkoff has also enjoyed the variety of the dryland the coaches have incorporated.

"We did different types of dryland at the beginning of the year like running up hills and Tussey Mountain," Shishkoff said. "I liked it better because it made practices more exciting and we all felt like we accomplished more when we were done with it."

With the Blue-White Intrasquad and a dual meet against WVU already behind the swimmers and divers, Shishkoff won all three of her events at both meets. The rankings on collegeswimming.com show Shishkoff is ranked with the sixth fastest time in the nation so far.

"I have already gone a best time and in-season bests in everything else I've swum so far," Shishkoff said. "I feel like I'm off to a good start and it's a really good sign for the rest of the year."

Swimming requires both physical and mental training to have success. Shishkoff's best racing comes when she has a relaxed frame of mind.

"When I'm at my best, my mindset is to have fun and just to see what I can do," Shishkoff said. "I want to see what happens and not worry about the results before the race."

Shishkoff has had plenty of experience with traveling to meets as well as staying at home for dual meets. She explains that they both have their own unique advantages to them.

"Whether I prefer home or away meets really depends on the meet itself," Shishkoff said.  "For dual meets, they are more fun at home because of the atmosphere. Traveling makes the meets bigger and I definitely prefer them for our end of season meets or bigger meets that we rest for."

As a part of the middle-distance training group, Shishkoff trains for distance freestyle events, individual medley events, and the 200-yard butterfly. Of the events she swims most, the 400-yard individual medley is her favorite to race.

"My favorite is the 400 IM," Shishkoff said. "I think it's more fun to race and it's an interesting event because it mixes things up and you get to change up the strokes."

With a few more meets and an invitational between now and the end of December, Shishkoff is already looking forward to the annual training trip that the swimmers go on right after Christmas in Naples, Fla.

"I'm really excited about our training trip because it's fun to be in Florida and just focus on swimming," Shishkoff said. "Being in a different location makes the training better and you are surrounded by all of your friends for over a week." 

In order to stay focused and motivated through months of training and competitions, Shishkoff reminds herself of the goals she wants to reach at the end of the season and the feeling of accomplishment when she reaches them.

"I stay motivated during practice and meets by thinking about how amazing of a feeling it is when I finish a race in a meet and meet my goal time, or do really well," Shishkoff said. "I think any swimmer could tell you that seeing your work pay off at a meet is the best feeling in the world."

As the swimmers and divers get further and further into the season, having goals and communicating what needs to be accomplished at checkpoints throughout the year is crucial. Shishkoff has already set goals that will help the team succeed against the other Big Ten opponents.

"My goals this season are to score at dual meets because it's such a great opportunity to contribute to the team, to score top eight at Big Tens, and to make NCAA's for the first time," Shishkoff said.

Swimming and Diving Blue-White Intrasquad

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Nittany Lion swimmers and divers had their first opportunity to debut all of the hard work they have put in so far this season at the Blue and White intrasquad meet Friday night. 

Throughout the week, the two teams had challenges during practice that created team bonds and added more competition to prepare for the intrasquad. The challenges included performances on main sets, kick sets, and even a dance off, which the White team won.

Going into the intrasquad, the White team was in the lead with 20 points while the Blue team had 10 points. The White team continued their lead at the intrasquad where they came out victorious with a score of 319 to 265 points.

The 16-event format included the one-meter and three-meter diving events, the 100 and 200 yards of each stroke, 200-yard Individual Medley, 50-yard Freestyle, 500-yard Freestyle, the 1000-yard freestyle and two relays.

The diving events took place prior to the swimming events. Junior Megan Springsteen and Sophomore T.J. Shenkel both won their events for the Blue team.

The Blue-White meet not only created an opportunity for the swimmers and divers to perform, but it also gave the coaches and athletes a chance to see where they're bodies and minds are so far this season.

A stand out winner on the women's side was Junior Gabi Shishkoff, who won the 200-yard butterfly, 200-yard Individual Medley, and 1,000-yard Freestyle by large margins for the White team. On the men's side Junior Matt Salig won the 200-yard Butterfly and the 200-yard Individual medley, adding to the Blue team score. 

"It's a good start for me," Salig said. "There is still a lot of room for improvement and I'm looking forward to the rest of the season to continue improving on these areas. The atmosphere has been good and the captains have done a good job being positive and carrying that into our training. It's a fun group of guys to be with."

For several people on the team, this was their first chance to experience this type of atmosphere that Salig has been accustomed to for the past two years. Freshman Casey Fazio got her first taste of what to expect from collegiate competitions.

"It was really exciting seeing fast swims," Fazio said. "It was nice to see everyone compete and cheer like they did. I've never really been in that type of atmosphere before. This intrasquad shows where we are at and helps us see what we need to do for our meet next weekend."

Transfer student, Ryan Magee, was also excited to experience this atmosphere for the first time.

"I had a lot of fun and I've enjoyed how close the team is," Magee said. "This meet gives us the opportunity to see where we are in reference to our training and what we have been doing. It was also nice to get to see family here."  

The coaching staff looks at the Blue-White meet as an opportunity to get back into racing and figure out the lineup for their upcoming meet against West Virginia in a week.

"It opened our eyes to a few kids," head coach John Hargis said. "We were mainly watching the youngsters. It gave the swimmers an opportunity to knock rust off, some did and some need to improve to be able to beat West Virginia next week. As a staff, this helps us come up with the best line up to beat them and look at the people still in question to make sure we are making the right choices."

Follow the Penn State swimmers and divers next week as they take on West Virginia University in Morgantown, W. Va.

Swimming & Diving Big Cat Day

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Entering his fifth year as head coach of the men's and women's swimming and diving teams, John Hargis has established a tradition to cap off the intense preseason dryland that starts each year.

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The highly anticipated day, known to all swimmers as "Big Cat Day", happens after five weeks of Saturday circuits and is built up to be one of the hardest challenges they will face throughout the year.

The captains are in charge of partnering the swimmers and each pair goes through 44 different dryland stations that are set up around the three pool decks. The exercises vary anywhere from doing cleans with sandbags to flipping tires to side crunches and dips. The coaches make sure that every muscle is worked to fatigue in this circuit.

"The day originated on it's own," Hargis said. "The inspiration came from when I was an athlete at Auburn and we would go through circuits similar to this but ours were based around the weight room. I wanted to do something like that when I became head coach so I sat down with the coaches that were here my first year and we came up with it."

Hargis has designed the dryland circuits to build up to the final "Big Cat Day", making it the most significant day of the five-week program. The first Saturday of the circuit the swimmers are introduced to each exercise and only go through the stations once. The second, third, and fourth weeks, the swimmers go through the circuit twice and in the fifth week, they are challenged to go through all 44 stations three times.

"The time for how long they stay at each station differs each week," Hargis said. "Week three and four, we give them more rest because we want to make it more about quality versus rushing through it. If they are not doing things right, we'll back up stations and redo it because we know they can do better."

Even before the fifth week arrives, all the swimmers are talking about "Big Cat Day" and know they are going to be challenged in ways they did not know were possible. However, not everyone knows the meaning behind the name and where it originated.

"We make the very last one extremely meaningful and call it 'Big Cat Day'," Hargis said. "At the time when we came up with the circuits, the club team was named 'Big Cat' so we took that name. We wanted to know who's the toughest, who's the biggest, and who's going to be the bigger animal. It has become a tradition where you can create your own attitude. Every year the kids talk about it and the kids know what to expect."

In addition to being physically tested, "Big Cat Day" creates a sense of confidence that the athletes can use later in the season.

"They take their bodies beyond what they ever thought they could do," Hargis said. "They know it's a huge feat they got through and they have that in their mind that they can always look back on and reflect."

After "Big Cat Day" is over, the coaching staff comes together to choose a male and female pair to be named the "Big Cat" of the preseason.

"We go through the past five weeks and look for who has improved the most, who gave the best efforts and decide which group deserves the acclaimed title," Hargis said. "Within that is hard work, accountability, and who works hard all the way through. We haven't had the chance to sit down as a staff and decide the winners yet for this year."         

Leading a Team: The Captains' Perspective

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - At some point during the spring, the swimmers and divers come together for a meeting. Index cards and pens are handed out and it's time to vote for captains for the remainder of the spring and into following year.

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These individuals are selected to step up in any situation and become leaders. They are responsible for coordinating recruiting events, acting as the liaison to communicate between the coaches and swimmers and they are expected to create a positive atmosphere no matter what the circumstances may be.

Teammates and coaches selected senior Amy Modglin and senior Paige Whitmire for the women's team while junior Chris Cipolla and junior James Wilson were chosen for the men's team.

Modglin, who was also a captain last year, has enjoyed the opportunity to be a leader and has grown from the experience.

"From last year, I learned a lot about what makes the team click and which approaches work and which ones don't," Modglin said. "I've been constantly learning from others and trying to improve in any way that I can."

Even though there are four people chosen to take on leadership roles, Modglin knows how important it is for everyone to do their part in order for the team to work together.

"Making sure that there are not just four leaders is how we keep unity in the team," Modglin said. "Everyone on the team has their own role and it's important that each person figures out what that means they have to do in order to meet our goals at the end of the year."

Helping Modglin lead the team, Whitmire is a captain for the first time this year and has already made an impact.

"Being selected as a captain this year means a lot to me," Whitmire said. "It was a goal of mine since I became part of this team to be a leader and it means so much to have teammates that think of me in that way. I care a lot about the team and want to do whatever I can to make it better."

Whitmire has also gained more insight into not only what it means to become a leader, but also what it takes to be a captain of the swimmers and divers.

"I've learned a lot since I've been a captain, but one of the biggest things I've learned is everything you do matters," Whitmire said. "From your body language to what you say, you are being watched all the time. You have high expectations and there are no excuses where you can just take a day off. You always have to be positive and working hard."

After learning from past captains, Cipolla felt honored to take on this role as a junior, especially for a program that continues to excel.

"On the papers, we have one of the best classes Penn State swimming has seen yet and it's an honor that I will be able to lead this team," Cipolla said. "I looked up to the captains that we had my freshman and sophomore year and they helped make me the person I am today. Hopefully I will be able to do that for the underclassmen this year."

Welcoming the freshmen and making sure everyone is on the right track is one of the many responsibilities captains are in charge of coordinating. Cipolla and Wilson have made sure that the freshmen have adjusted well and feel comfortable with the team.

"When the freshmen come to town for their FTCAP days, we try to see them and invite them over just to hang out before they're even at school," Cipolla said. "Just about every weekend so far this year we have had some sort of team activity where we get dinner or go to a football game together. We are just as close with the freshmen as we are with our own class."

The common goal that all of these captains hope to achieve is helping out their teammates. Modglin does this through her actions and hopes to inspire underclassmen.

"I believe leading by example is the best way to be a leader," Modglin said. "You can talk all you want, but people will respect you for how you act and they're also more apt to listen to you. I hope to leave footprints for younger swimmers to follow in and guide them to where they want to be. If I could help just one person this year, I would be happy knowing I made a difference."

Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Team Dynamics

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Walking onto the pool deck of McCoy Natatorium on any given day, there will be five coaches and two managers standing over the lanes of the men's and women's teams. Some programs have separate practice times and schedules for the men and women, but the program at Penn State benefits from having a combined team where they all train and travel together.

Head Coach John Hargis has designed a program that can manage a team of 66 swimmers - 35 men and 31 women. Everyone starts out together at the beginning of the year, but later into the season, Hargis assigns everyone to a group based on their individual events and the style of training that works best for them. He manages such large numbers by having sprint, short-middle distance, long-middle distance, and distance groups. This allows for the coaches to have a chance to make a more individualized training environment.

"I only see positives out of having a combined team," Hargis said. "There's obviously a difference in males and females work load and the training styles can be different, but it's up to the coaches to recognize that and make those changes. We do have more staff that allows us to spread the work out."

Combining the two teams creates a variable of competition that otherwise would not be as strong.

"It ups the intensity of practice," Hargis said. "Girls go faster to catch the guys and the guys go faster because they don't want to get beat by the girls. Anytime you put athletes together they're going to push each other and make a better environment."

Since most club teams across the country have teams with men and women, the recruits that visit are used to this aspect of the sport. Having a combined team makes the adjustment into college easier because it is something they are already familiar with.

"The recruits come from age group programs that have combined teams so they are used to the environment," Hargis said. "Occasionally you will get an athlete who is looking for a single-sex program, but it's very rare. I always tell recruits - the swimmers can tell you this too - that we are a big family and that you always have big brothers and big sisters to push you through."

Although the men and the women train together and travel together throughout the year, when it comes time for championship season, there are two separate Big Ten Championship meets. The women's championship is one week before the men's and usually at separate locations.

"The way it is now gives both teams an individual championship and they don't have to share that focus," Hargis said. "With the numbers we have of 12 women's teams and 10 men's teams a combined championship would be too big. It could be fun to combine but it would be very long, very crowded and lots of heats. They would have to reduce the travel squad and I'm not in favor of that."

When Junior Mackenzie Powers would compete during her high school season, she had separate teams and would only be around women. She has had the opportunity to experience both types of atmospheres. Since coming to Penn State, she has enjoyed being in a combined team setting.

"I do like having a combined team because it gives you more opportunities to push yourself and creates more competition since there are more people to race," Powers said. "The boys balance out the girls well and keep the environment fun."

When it comes to how well the coaches manage all of the swimmers and their different needs, Powers feels that the coaches do a really good job of handling it all.

"They have the same expectations for the girls and the boys," Powers said. "Being able to have five coaches and four different groups creates an atmosphere that gives the swimmers more attention and allows the coaches and swimmers to get to know each other better."

Freshman Jon Seiferth has only been around the team for a month, but can already tell the strong bond that the two teams share.  He also notices that despite having two different rosters, the school theme "One Team" describes Penn State swimming and diving well.

"Training together brings the team together as a whole," Seiferth said. "You can build new relationships, you have more training buddies, and you push each other. The guys don't want to lose to the girls and everyone is cheering for each other."

A major difference between club swimming and swimming at Penn State is the amount of coaches that are on deck. Seiferth has enjoyed having the extra coaches, allowing the team to split up into different groups.

"When we split up into groups, the coaches help to make it much more individualized and they know what you can do," Seiferth said. "It's a big motivator knowing that they are at the end of your lane and cheering you on during sets."          

Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Tackle Tussey Mountain

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - When fans come out to the Natatorium for competitions to see the hard work that the swimmers and divers have put in, most spectators understand that the practices involve repetitive laps of swimming back and forth and that the divers practice dive after dive on the boards. What many do not realize, however, is that the Penn State Swimming and Diving teams incorporate an intense dryland program early in the season to ensure the athletes are in the best shape.

The coaching staff took a new approach towards getting the swimmers and divers back in shape. To create a team-bonding atmosphere this past week, the athletes spent Thursday morning running up and down Tussey Mountain.

After early alarm clocks went off and a short commute to the mountain, the swimmers and divers were ready to start this new adventure at 6 a.m. Standing in front of Tussey Mountain, which has an elevation of roughly 2,700 feet, everyone was ready to conquer the task at hand. Mental toughness became a factor when they realized they were going to be running it four or five times.

Freshman Kevin Glenn was not sure what to expect going into this practice, but pushed through the difficult practice with the help of his teammates.

"Our mentality when we got to Tussey was that we were going to do this challenge no matter what and we were going to get through it together," Glenn said. "Afterwards we knew we had all tried hard and it felt good knowing that I helped push others to be able to run up the mountain five times. Coming together as a team like this is one of the biggest differences between club swimming and college swimming."

Senior and captain of the women's team, Amy Modglin had a similar take on the whole experience and thought this practice showed how much the women's team supports each other and will help the team in the future of this season.

"Overall, it was a great experience as a team," Modglin said. "Knowing that your teammates are always behind you is what climbing a mountain together showed us. It will definitely help us at the end of the season and will give us a lot of confidence going into the season."

As opposed to past years, the divers have been joining the swimmers in dryland practices to create more unity between the two teams. Sophomore diver Meredith Harbison has enjoyed the unity factor over the past couple of weeks.

"In past years, the divers and swimmers were separate," Harbison said. "We had our own circuits and dryland, but this year we are more of one team and are doing everything together. We are getting in good shape and everyone has been really supportive."

Harbison also noticed a strong team bond form after running the mountain with the swimmers.

"Some of the girls ran the mountain four times while the faster runners went up a fifth time to support the girls that were falling behind," Harbison said. "It really showed our team bond of not leaving anyone behind and we all cheered to try and keep everyone motivated."       

Men's and Women's Swimming and Diving Season Preview

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By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - As a former Penn State student-athlete, this season I will aim to bring all the fans an interesting and unique angle to cover men's and women's swimming and diving.

As a junior studying Journalism in the College of Communications, I am eager for the opportunity to combine my passion for writing with my passion for sports. I have always been interested in sports and at a young age I started trying them all out. I went from soccer practice to swim practice to gymnastics, making sure I experienced most of the different types of sports.

I fell in love with swimming and gymnastics and continued to balance both of those while still keeping up with my schoolwork until my sophomore year in high school. At that point, it was time to make a tough decision regarding which sport I would continue to pursue and which one would take me further - swimming it was.

Since I have taken part with USA Swimming for 15 years, I have had experience at nearly every level of the sport from just taking swim lessons at a summer club to participating at one of the highest levels where I traveled all across the nation and later had the opportunity to become a part of a competitive Division I team, which you will find at Penn State University.

This season, I will strive to help every reader understand the commitment student-athletes must make to compete at the highest level, the difference between training for sprinters and distance swimmers, the tradition of the strong relationship that has been built between the Men's and Women's team compared to other universities who do not have combined teams. I will also share any differences between this season and past seasons in addition to several other traditions that the coaches have implemented for the swimmers and divers.

With the first team meeting last Tuesday followed by several dry-land practices through out the week, both the coaches and athletes are ready to get the season underway and continue moving up the rankings in the Big Ten Conference.

The upperclassmen have spent the past week welcoming the freshmen and making sure that they are adjusting well to a new home, a new practice schedule, and a new environment of learning. Before classes started, several of the seniors from the Women's team stopped by the freshmen dorms to take them on a campus walk and make sure they knew how to get to the buildings where they have classes.

At the football game against Ohio University this past Saturday, 600 athletes got the opportunity to walk on the field before the start of the game with t-shirts that read "One Team". This gesture marked the beginning of a new era for all of the athletes associated with Penn State University.

Both the men and women's swimming and diving teams met at The Natatorium before the game and walked over together. Sophomore Allie Roberts took part in this event and soaked in the moment.

"I thought it was an awesome way to start the year off," said Roberts. "After everything our school and athletic department have been through it felt amazing not only to be with my swimming teammates but also to come together with other athletes to support the football team and represent Penn State on the field."

With one week down, both teams are excited to put more work not only into the pool and the weight room, but also into the classroom to achieve the goals they have set out for this season.

Men's Swimming Team Preps for Big Ten Meet

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By Chardonnai Johnson, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - Chlorine? Check. Pool? Check. Buckets, paddles, swim gear, and dozens of goggled swimmers diving and surfacing simultaneously? Double check.

This was sight at the McCoy Natatorium during the days leading up to the Big Ten Swim Meet. The men's meet, scheduled to begin Feb. 22.

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"The thing with swimming is," said men's and women's swimming coach John Hargis. "You're going to be hard pressed to find another sport that puts in the hours that swimmers have to put in."

Both pools in the natatorium are filled with swimmers in different lanes whose heads are consistently appear and disappear while Hargis is talking. The whole room is filled with the sound of splashes and whistles. This is an everyday practice scene according to Hargis.

The swimmers put in about 20 hours a week during a typical season for training and practice. A lot of the athletes put in extra time weight lifting and training at their own accord though.

"Some of the goals these kids have take place in the summer," said Hargis. "So the dedication they have is pretty impressive."

Hargis said that because swimming is a year-round sport, the team never really stops practicing. Save for the Big Ten though. Most would expect the practice to be amped up and more intense around that time. This isn't the case.

Practice is routine and structured any other day. It's only leading up to a big meet when things surprisingly die down a little.

"Right now it's just rest and sharpening really," said Hargis. "They've put in months and months of training. Now it's time to let their bodies recover and sharpen up."

The conference meet itself is four days said Hargis and it's pretty intense for the swimmers. There are seven sessions in the conference including two relays the first night. The next day will call for three individual events as well as the 400 medley relay.


"Some of these kids will be competing a lot in just three days," said Hargis. "They'll be swimming a lot."

As if to emphasize this point, one of the swimmers in the pool closest to Hargis dumps a bright orange bucket of water into the pool making a loud splash. The other swimmers, alternating between male and female, reach the end of their laps and surface.

There are red paddles attached to their hands used during practice to add resistance to their strokes. Hargis wasn't kidding when he said it's all about the details and sharpening before the Big Ten meet. He has high hopes for the team at this meet and he doesn't want to exhaust them.


"We want to just get the most qualifiers we can get to the NCAAs," said Hargis. "Honestly, we want to go there and just win the meet."

The time leading up to the conference doesn't seem to fly by as quickly as the actual conference does. Hargis said the meet happens pretty quickly and then it's over.

"The Big Ten Meet is probably one of the fastest meets in the country," said Hargis. "It'll be a good meet though. A fun meet."

After stopping to instruct the swimmers to "go 50 easy and check their buckets," Hargis said that the meet is not only exhausting for the athletes, but also for him.

"It's a fun meet, but it's very intense," he said with a laugh. "I don't sleep.  But it's fun to be a part of."

Preparing a team for any big competition no matter what the sport is always a tough job, but Hargis said that coaching for him isn't just about the sport itself. He teaches them to be better athletes, but he also said coaches should be a teacher and a role model for their athletes.

"We try to shape the swimmer all four years and in all aspects," said Hargis. "Make them better people and better students. We look at the entire person, not just the swimmer."


With past experiences with meets and swimmers, Hargis said that he's expecting a little nervous energy from his athletes during the Big Ten Championships. It's normal and perfectly natural.

"It's a matter of not letting the nervous energy turn into negative energy," said Hargis. "I don't want them to doubt themselves. I'm thinking positive."


Something about the determined strokes of every athlete at this practice just a week ago tells me there will be nothing to worry about come Wednesday.

Hetzel: Senior Meet, Navy Adaptive Swimming and the Super Bowl

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By Alexa Hetzel

 

Hello Penn State Fans,

 

Welcome back to another week in Happy Valley.  This past weekend a majority of us spent our time swimming in the Senior meet and watching the Super Bowl.  I saw most of the parents at the meet, but if you didn't get a chance to make it out to McCoy Natatorium I can fill you in.

 

This past Friday the boys had a duel meet against Buffalo.  It was a great meet and a lot of the boys swam fast which is an encouraging and positive sign for the weeks to come.  The following Saturday we spent the meet honoring the Seniors in our last duel meet ever in McCoy Natatorium.  Being a part of those 11 men and women was really an honor to have made it that far but was also very sad.  Most of us have been swimming for longer then we can remember so hearing for real that it is all coming to a rapid end was emotional.  I must say though we are lucky.  This year we actually had teams make it to the pool.  The past two years Lehigh has failed to come because of the weather, so it was a nice change to compete against another team.  We also welcomed the Saint Francis women's team to compete.  Both the men's and women's team competed well and really used every chance given to race.

 

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Along with honoring the 11 Seniors we were also lucky enough to have some Navy members come and swim their first dual meet of the season at our pool.  These men have served in the current war and some have injuries, but it was such an honor to have them here and to get to watch them compete.  It was such an eye opening experience and I think everyone really enjoyed it, the Navy men included.

 

This past Sunday we, along with millions of Americans, enjoyed the Super Bowl action.  We made lots of food including taco dip ,buffalo chicken dip, sandwiches, pasta salad, and much more.  We had a lot of options to choose from which is typical at most Super Bowl gatherings you attend.  As we settled in to watch the game most of the people in the room were cheering on the Patriots because of our newest Penn State member coach Bill O'Brien.  I was very torn being a New Jersey native and life long Giants fan as well and bleeding blue and white.  So really I had it the best because no matter which team won I would have been happy.  But now that the Super Bowl is over we are lucky to have Coach O'Brien back at Happy Valley and finally stepping into his head coaching duties full time.  So welcome Coach O'Brien.

 

As the days fly by we are closer and closer to the main event of the season, Big Tens.  This team has the potential to do some wonderful things so I encourage everyone to watch our progress as we head to Iowa City next Tuesday, the 14th.

 

 

                                    WEstillARE

Hetzel: Remembering JoePa, Looking Forward to Big Tens

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By Alexa Hetzel

Hello All Penn State Fans,

 

Welcome to February everyone.  February respresents a lot of important things for Penn State.  This is the month that we all head to Big Tens to compete in our biggest meet of the year to hopefully get us to NCAAs.  This is the week that starts a new chapter for all of Penn State including athletics with the ending of a legacy and few chapters of history.  And it starts a new chapter.


Last week was the memorial for Joe Paterno.  I hope most of you had a chance to watch it because it was amazing.  It was sad that all of the Letterman, ICA staff (intercollegiate athletics) and students gathered together into the BJC for the death of a great man.  But truth be told he brought all of us together for a reason.  Hearing story after story about Joe and how he recruited a player by claiming one mother's pasta was better than Mrs. Cappelletti's or how every player would earn a quality education every story came back to one thing, Joe's legacy.  He didn't leave behind 409 wins, the second largest stadium in the country, two national championships or Big Ten titles.  He left behind all of us sitting in the BJC, and every Penn Stater watching on TV.  He left behind young men and women, people that will go into the world and change it for the better because that is what he taught us to do.  Joe Paterno may be dead but he will never stop teaching because his way of teaching is the Penn State way and it will never be forgotten.

 

I would say Fran Fisher, the real "Voice" of Penn State and a long time friend of Joe, said it best, "It's something of an unusual circumstance when an older man's life is influenced by a younger man.  Such is the case when considering my association with Joe Paterno. Just being around him made me a better person. His legacy lives through the lives of the thousands of players and associates he touched.  He made a difference ... I loved him ... I will miss him."  It is sad to say that all good things must come to an end, but it's true.  We say goodbye to a great man and close the book he wrote and start a new one.  But one good thing that gives me comfort is the fact that Joe's book will be reopened and read over and over.

 

This month is the best month to start a new book since it will be our highest level of competition and should be our best one yet.  To have been a part of this team the past year has been an honor.  Watching everyone grow and work together to build up to what we have achieved has been so exciting.  I will never be able to describe the feeling of a Big Ten championship.  The range of emotion that runs through you is the widest spectrum of emotion I've ever felt, but I wouldn't give it up for anything.  Penn State swimming and diving has always had to prove itself time and time again and we have.  We rise to every challenge whether it be not getting a ranking we deserve or not.  But I can say this year at Big Tens, we will rise to the challenge and all 11 other teams better watch out because we will not slow down and we will run over the competition.


I hope you all follow the results and the team into competition.  With two weeks until the first events there is a lot of excitement beginning to build. 

 

 

                        WEstillARE

             

@GOPSUSPORTS

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