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John Hargis took over the Penn State swimming and diving program on June 23, 2008 and has led the Nittany Lions to success in the classroom and in the pool during his five seasons in Happy Valley.
During his first four seasons at the helm, Hargis has seen 10 of his pupils write their names atop of the record books on the women's side in their respective events and all five relay school records have been set during his time in University Park. On the national level, 10 different women's swimmers have garnered All-America accolades on 30 occasions and 17 of his female student-athletes competed at the 2012 US Olympic Trials.
The men's program has also enjoyed its fair share of success with 11 student-athletes claiming All-America honors on 24 occasions under Hargis. In 2012, 17 Penn Staters headed to Omaha, Neb. to compete in the US Olympic Trials. During his first season at the helm, he coached backstroker Patrick Schirk to a silver medal at the World University Games in the 200 backstroke.
Last season, Hargis watched as the men's 200 & 400 medley relay teams garnered first team All-America and four of his women's relay squads earned honorable mention All-America laurels at the NCAA Championships. Along with the relay honors, Nate Savoy claimed first team All-America honors in the 100 backstroke, while Merritt Krawczyk, Scott Marino, Chelsea Weedman and Paige Whitmire all brought honorable mention All-America honors back to Happy Valley. At the Big Ten Championships, six women's swimmers garnered first team All-Big Ten and Nate Savoy took home the Big Ten Male Freshman of the Year accolades. Mackenzie Powers claimed the first Big Ten individual championships for the women's program since 2007 when she won the 100 butterfly and the 400 free and 400 medley relay teams also captured Big Ten crowns. A school record 22 women's student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten during the season - with seven garnering CSCAA Scholar All-America honors - and six men's competitors brought home academic honors from the Big Ten and three were named to the Scholar All-American team by the CSCAA.
The 2010-11 season ended with a handful of national honors, as well as success at the Big Ten Championships, and a trip to the World University Games for Hargis. Krawczyk claimed honorable mention All-America honors in the 100 breaststroke and 200 IM, while Amy Modglin did so in the 200 backstroke. The women's 200 freestyle relay and the men's 200 medley relay team each pulled in honorable mention All-American accolades at the NCAA Championships, as well. Powers again claimed first team All-Big Ten accolades with a second place showing in the 100 butterfly and Mitch Scherer was a second team All-Big Ten pick. Again in 2010-11, 18 women's swimmers were named to the Academic All-Big Ten squad, while three earned Scholar All-America, and 14 men's participants walked away with Academic All-Big Ten recognition.
Hargis didn't spend much time away from the pool in the offseason after the 2010-11 campaign after being selected as an assistant coach on the USA Swimming World University Games staff. A former gold medalist himself, Hargis helped guide the US squad to 13 medals in the pool - including five gold medals - and watched as one of his Nittany Lions competed among the world's best. Modglin was also a member of the USA Swimming's squad and competed in the 200 backstroke in Shenzhen, China.
In his second year at the helm, Hargis continued to move the Blue and White forward in the pool and in the classroom, watching as Modglin captured honorable mention in the 200 backstroke at the NCAA Championships. In the classroom, 18 women's and 10 men's student-athletes earned Academic All-Big Ten, while four women and two men were named Scholar All-Americans by the CSCAA.
His first year at the helm was a highly successful one, leading both programs to national rankings throughout the season. The women's program ranked as high as 15th entering the NCAA Championships, where six Nittany Lions competed along with five on the men's side. The women placed 38th at the national meet, led by honorable mention All-America finishes from Kelly Nelson and Kaitlin O'Brien, while Vincent Reydams, Schirk, Jason Goldner, Basil Kaaki, and Brian Alden all received honorable mention All-America accolades to lead the men's squad to a 32nd place finish.
Hargis returned to Happy Valley for his second stint with the program, after serving as an assistant coach at Penn State from 2003-06 before moving onto Arkansas-Little Rock. Hargis was hired as the head coach of the Trojans' women's program in 2007. He was also the head coach and the chief executive officer of the Little Rock Arkansas Dolphins swim club.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Hargis became just the second head coach at Penn State since the men's and women's swimming programs were merged into one following the 2000-01 season. He is Penn State's fourth head women's coach of all-time and just the sixth head coach in men's program history.
Hargis left his assistant post at Penn State in September 2006 to take over the Arkansas Dolphins premier swim club, which was also his former club team. In that role, he directed the program to the overall team state long course title in 2007, winning both the men's and women's team trophy for only the second time in program history. He also led both the men's and women's teams to the overall team state short course crown in 2008, securing the Dolphins their first back-to-back combined state titles in their 48 year history.
He joined Arkansas-Little Rock as an assistant coach in November 2006 before being elevated to head coach in February 2007. While heading the Trojans' program, which competes in the Sun Belt Conference, the women's team was recognized by the Collegiate Swimming Coaches Association of America for having a team GPA of over 3.0 in both the fall and spring semesters.
As an assistant with the Nittany Lions, Hargis was a part of the staff that led the women's team to back-to-back Big Ten Championships in 2005 and 2006. He coached several NCAA, Olympic Trials and U.S. Nationals qualifiers and also directed all aspects of men's recruiting. Hargis was instrumental in helping recruit 2008 NCAA Champion Patrick Schirk to Penn State.
He also assisted with several other aspects and day-to-day operations of the program, including the creation and implementation of a training regimen for both the men's and women's sprinters, breaststroke and IM swimmers.
Prior to arriving at Penn State, Hargis was an assistant coach at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas for two years during the 2002-03 season where he also coached NCAA, Olympic and U.S. Nationals qualifiers and guided Jonathan Hugo to the Mountain West Conference Male Swimmer of the Year award. He was the head age group coach for the Raleigh Swimming Association club team for two years prior to his stint at UNLV, and served for three years as an assistant to the athletic director at his alma mater, Auburn University, prior to that.
A native of Little Rock, Ark., Hargis is a 1999 graduate of Auburn with a degree in health promotion/sports management.
Hargis is one of the most touted swimmers to ever come out of the state of Arkansas and was part of a national championship team in 1997. A member of the 200 medley relay team that broke NCAA, U.S. Open and NCAA Meet records in 1997, Hargis was also a part of the NCAA Champion 400 medley relay team in 1997. A three-time SEC champion in the 100 butterfly, he also held the SEC record in that event and was a 12-time All-American. He owns an Olympic Gold Medal, which he earned at the 1996 Atlanta games as part of the U.S. 400 medley relay team and he also won the 100 fly at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 1996. Hargis was inducted into the Arkansas State Swimming Hall of Fame in 2001 and was selected as one of Arkansas' 100 Greatest Athletes of all-time.
Hargis resides in State College with his wife, Lauren, two sons, John and Nathan, and daughter, Faith.
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