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Steve Barnes is in his fourth season as an assistant coach for Penn State’s men’s and women’s swimming and diving programs.
Barnes joined the staff along with head coach Tim Murphy in 2013, and the Nittany Lions have seen continued success under their guidance. Last season, 10 Lions qualified for the NCAA Women’s Swimming Championships and led Penn State to its third consecutive top-25 finish. Six swimmers earned a combined 10 All-America honorable mention honors.
The men’s swimming team was short-handed as its top swimmer, Shane Ryan, spent the academic year training for the 2016 Rio Olympics in Ireland. Ryan became the first Nittany Lion men’s swimmer to advance out of the preliminaries and the highest finishing in program history by placing 16th in the 100m back. Ryan’s mere participation was historic for the Penn State swimming program as he became the second from the men’s side to compete in the Olympics and the first since the 2004 games in Athens. He also is the first in program history to return to Penn State after competing in the Olympics.
In 2014-15, Penn State sent a combined total of 17 swimmers to the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships. On the men’s side, Nate Savoy concluded his Nittany Lion with a pair of honorable mention All-America honors, while Shane Ryan claimed first-team All-America honors and a Big Ten Championship. On the women’s side, the 800 freestyle relay team garnered first-team All-America honors, and Alyson Ackman and Carolyn Fittin garnered a combined three honorable mention All-American honors to lead the women to their second-straight top-20 finish.
In 2013-14, Barnes helped a squad that had a total of 20 Penn State program records broken, including nine for the men’s team and 11 for the women’s squad. PSU sent 19 swimmers to the 2014 NCAA Championships, where the Nittany Lion men placed 17th and the women finished 18th. Of the seven men and 12 women who competed at the national meet, 12 received CSCAA (College Swimming Coaches Association of America) honorable mention All-America recognition while sophomores Shane Ryan and Alyson Ackman claimed first team All-America accolades for their efforts.
He came to Penn State after spending the previous four seasons as the head coach of the Wabash College swimming and diving program.
Under Barnes’ leadership, the Wabash team finished fourth at the 2013 North Coast Athletic Conference Men’s Swimming and Diving Championship Meet. Competing against some of the top programs in the nation such as Kenyon and Denison, his Little Giants produced three school records, two by freshman Zechariah Banks in the 200-yard individual medley and the 200 breaststroke and by Aaron Troyer in the 200 backstroke.
In 2012, three freshmen made it to the finals at the NCAC Championships, including Aaron Troyer, whose time in the 200-yard backstroke was good enough to make the NCAA “B” Provisional.
Barnes led the 2010-11 and 2009-10 Little Giant team to back-to-back third-place finishes at the NCAC Men’s Championship meet and sent two swimmers each season to compete at the NCAA Nationals. Both swimmers, David Birrer and Evan Rhinesmith, went on to win All-America honors at the 2011 NCAA Division III Swimming and Diving Championships.
Before his time at Wabash, Barnes spent three seasons at Kalamazoo College as an assistant coach. During his three year span, the Hornets set an NCAA record, 39 school records, 36 individual and relay conference titles, 17 conference records, 59 NCAA “B” cuts and 16 NCAA “A” cuts, and nine individual top-eight finishes at the at the NCAA Nationals. After serving two seasons as the assistant coach of the Kalamazoo College men’s and women’s swimming program, he was named interim head coach from January through March of 2008 during head coach Kathy Milliken’s maternity leave.
A 2005 graduate of Ithaca College, Barnes was a four-time All-American and team MVP for the Bombers. Barnes was a 2005 ESPN The Magazine/CoSIDA Academic All-America honoree and was selected as the Ithaca College Athlete of the Year from 2002-05. He earned Scholar All-America honors from the College Swimming Coaches Association of America (CSCAA) four consecutive years. Barnes holds the Ithaca records in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle races, and was part of the record-setting 800-yard freestyle relay team.
Barnes earned his master’s degree in exercise science from Ithaca in 2006, while working as an assistant coach for the Bombers. He was responsible for dry land training and weightlifting programs for the team in addition to coordinating recruiting.