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Austin, Texas. Lee & Joe Jamail Texas Swimming Center
AUSTIN, Texas; March 29, 2014 - The Penn State men’s swimming and diving program turned in its best performance at the NCAA Championships in over a decade, posting 63 total points over the course of the three day competition to finish in 17th place.
The 63 points are the second most Penn State has ever recorded, with just the 2001 team’s total of 72.5 points being the only squad to record more. The 17th place team finish is tied for the fifth best finish in Nittany Lion history.
“Our objective was to come here and compete with the top teams in the country and I think we did that with the 17th place finish,” said head coach Tim Murphy. “It’s a good step for this program and I am proud of the way our guys competed over the three days.”
For the second consecutive evening, Shane Ryan (Havertown, Pa.) made history for the Penn State swimming and diving program. On the third and final evening of the NCAA Championships, the sophomore raced to a fourth place finish in the “A” final of the 100 freestyle with a time of 42.32 to earn the team 15 points. Ryan qualified for the “A” final in the prelims earlier in the day with a time of 42.13.
With the top-eight finish, Ryan becomes the first Nittany Lion to ever achieve first team All-America accolades in the 100 freestyle event. The sophomore is just the second member of the Blue and White to ever reach the “A” final in any freestyle event, with the first coming in 1944 when Abel Gilbert finished in the top eight in the 220, 440 and 1,500 freestyle events.
“Shane competed with some of the top freestylers in the world,” said Murphy. “He did a really good job. It was a rigorous couple of days with all the relays, prelims and finals he swam. He competed really well in all his final races. It was a good meet for him and there are a lot of things he can take from this experience and build on for the future.”
Over the course of the 2014 NCAA Championships, Ryan has placed his name among the greats in Penn State history. The sophomore becomes just one of four Lions to have earned first team All-America honors in two different events at the same championship, joining the aforementioned Abel, Patrick Schirk (2008) and Chris Devine (1994). The Havertown native is just the third to accomplish the feat in two swimming events. Ryan also becomes the first Penn State swimmer in 70 years to record two top-four finishes in the same championships and the first ever to do it in two different strokes.
The Blue and White closed out the 2014 season by notching a 15th finish in the 400 free relay to earn four more points and earn honorable mention All-America recognition. The team of Ryan, John Hauser (Pottstown, Pa.), Nate Savoy (Reading, Pa.) and Shane Austin (Kennett Square, N.J.) raced to a time 2:53.37 in the “B” final, bettering its time of 2:53.41 from the prelims.
“The relays are huge, said Murphy. “All four guys have to be performing at a high level. The level of competition is tighter at the NCAAs across the board. For the guys to make the finals in every race is really good. Scoring in the relays at the NCAAs is really important and I was happy with the way our teams performed as a whole.”
Over the course of the three days, the Penn State relays placed in the top 16 in three different events, marking just the fifth time in school history the accomplishment has occurred. The Nittany Lions placed 13th in the 400 medley, 11th in the 200 medley and 15th in the 400 freestyle relays to earn valuable points for the squad.
Two other Nittany Lions competed in individual events in the final day of the NCAAs in Savoy and Nick Ankosko (East Brunswick, N.J.). Savoy fell agonizingly short of reaching the evening finals session in the 200 backstroke, placing 17th in the preliminary round with a time of 1:41.16, just one spot shy of the top 16. However, Savoy’s time was the best of his junior campaign, improving on his previous best that he recorded a month ago at the Big Ten Championships.
Ankosko capped off his championships with the grueling 1,650 freestyle, his third event in as many days. The junior finished the event with a time of 15:16.74, his second-best time of 2014 to finish 31st on Saturday.
Saturday night marked the end of James Wilson (Nottingham, Pa.), Hauser and Austin’s Penn State careers. Wilson finishes as a two-time first team All-American and an honorable mention All-American. As a Nittany Lion, Hauser claimed one first team All-America honor and two honorable mention All-America accolades. Austin wraps up his four-year career as a two-time first team All-American and two-time honorable mention All-American.