Lions Finish Strong on Final Day of Big Ten Championships
March 1, 2008
Ann Arbor, Mich. - The Penn State men's swimming and diving team had its best day of the Big Ten Men's Swimming and Diving Championships on Saturday as the Nittany Lions finished strong with their best individual performances of the championships. Pat Schirk finished second in the 200 backstroke and broke his own school record again in the event while the 400 freestyle relay team finished third, just over a second over the NCAA `A' time standard. As a team, Penn State finished eighth with a total of 318 points.
The night was highlighted by Schirk's swim in the finals of the 200 back. The junior standout broke his own school record of 1:41.57 that he set earlier this year by swimming a time of 1:40.87, just .02 of a second out of first place and an NCAA `A' time, although he had already automatically qualified for NCAA's with his time from earlier this year in the 200 back. This marks the second straight year that Schirk has finished second in the 200 back in Big Ten's. He leaves Big Ten's this year as still the only Nittany Lion that has automatically qualified for NCAA's, although several others positioned themselves for potential NCAA invites by swimming `B' times that were close to the `A' standard at these championships.
Some of those individuals that improved their positioning for an NCAA invite included Tim Williams, who finished fourth in the 200 fly in an NCAA `B' time of 1:45.36, just .43 of a second off an `A' time.
The Nittany Lions had three swimmers score points in the 1650 free, led by David Kraft, who finished in 11th place in 15:20.13. Dito Calderon finished 13th in 15:21.70. Both Kraft's and Calderon's times were NCAA `B' cuts, although both of them had slightly faster `B' times earlier this year. One swimmer who did greatly improve his time in the 1650 free was school record holder Chris Sullivan, who finished in 14th place just behind Calderon in 15:21.89, good for his first `B' time of the year.
The 400 free relay team of Vincent Reydams, Sean Swanepoel, Sean Biedermann and Jason Goldner came just 1.25 seconds shy of an NCAA `A' time in finishing third in 2:55.46, an improvement of nearly four seconds from the previous best time for the 400 free relay team this year.
Penn State also had two finishers in the `B' finals of the 100 free. Swanepoel placed ninth in :44.24 while Reydams finished 11th in :44.46.
As a team, the Nittany Lions finished with 22 more points than last year at Big Ten's but fell a spot in the standings. They finished 45 points behind seventh place Wisconsin and a healthy 131 points in front of ninth place Iowa. Michigan won the championship with a total of 1081.5 points.
Penn State will find out how many more swimmers in addition to Schirk qualified for NCAA's in a week and a half.