BLOG: Blue and White Meet Brings Camaraderie to Swimmers and Divers
Oct. 7, 2013
By Chelsea Howard, GoPSUsports.com Student Staff Writer
While the swimmers and divers had the opportunity to compete against each other, coach Murphy, diving coach Dennis Ceppa, assistants Steve Barnes, Doak Finch, and Patrick Nalley all got the opportunity for the first time to experience the atmosphere that Penn State fans bring to McCoy Natatorium. The weekend has traditionally given parents the chance to spend the time with their athletes, watch them compete, and enjoy a potluck style gathering after the meet.
"I think it's awesome they're able to come out and the team can perform for them. They can see the program and the team," Murphy said. "In this case, it's all new and different for everybody. I'm really happy they could come out and watch what the team is doing."
With the support of parents and fans behind the program, Murphy's focus since becoming head coach has been to build a strong sense of team camaraderie through team building activities and improving the attitude of the swimmers and divers as a whole.
When the meet was over, the parents and fans could see the cohesive team that Murphy has spent the past six weeks building as he led everyone in a "We Are" chant at the end of the meet. The swimmers and divers then lined the side of the pool singing the Alma Mater together.
"Something we've been working a lot on is the team dynamics," Murphy said. "You got a sense of that when I said `We Are' at the end. It's something we've been working on but could still do better with."
One swimmer who has helped bring the team together for the Nittany Lions is captain Claire Singley. After all of the changes the program has seen, Singley has been one of the upperclassmen to help make the adjustments that coach Murphy is looking for within the athletes.
"We work as more of a unit now than we did even four weeks ago," Singley said. "We've done a lot of team building things and Tim's brought out a lot of discussion about the team to us, even in the middle of practice. He's really opened our eyes to that. I think it's different attitudes than before and now since it's a whole new playing field, everyone's on the same level with new motivation and new energy."
This Blue and White meet marked the senior's fourth and final intrasquad. Singley helped lead the White team while having the opportunity to see where the whole team stands after training hard for several weeks.
"Today was bittersweet," Singley said. "It was exciting to be a in a different position and see the team do really well with the new swimmers coming up, which is exactly what we needed. I think we've filled the spots that were left behind by the seniors. We have a lot of practice to do but I'm excited and pumped for the season."
While Singley has been through the Blue and White meet before and several dual meet seasons, freshman Matt Stasiunas is experiencing it all for the first time as he makes the transition from high school into college swimming. He has also noted Murphy's efforts to improve the team atmosphere where the upperclassmen have been a huge help to those adjusting to the changes.
"The main thing is (Murphy) has brought us closer together as a team," Stasiunas said. "We've done a lot of things together that we wouldn't have usually done with the other coaching staff. The upperclassmen have just told us to relax. It's a big step up from what we're used to. They just say to do what you're used to and good things will happen."
Taking the advice of staying calm, Stasiunas was the top finisher in the 400 freestyle. He saw the support of the parents and fans in McCoy Natatorium while enjoying the opportunity to race against his teammates in a setting other than practice.
"I loved it. It's always been a dream of mine to come to Penn State. It's just a different feel to the college setting than back in high school. It's much more competitive. These guys work hard everyday and we work hard together so I'm looking forward to racing with them at every meet," Stasiunas said.
With the competitive dual meet season right around the corner, the Blue and White meet gave the swimmers and divers the opportunity to preview what's to come for this season and to see some of the areas they can improve upon. The depth on the women's side will prove to be a strong advantage for the Nittany Lions.
"There's a lot of strong girls in every event," Singley said. "That's really exciting because at the dual meets we need the girls all to be front runners. We're breaking into our training groups next week so that'll be exciting to see who we're with and who we'll race against in practice."
After racing against his teammates, the freshman knows that committing to hard work and following coach Murphy's lead will contribute to his success at the end of the season.
"I have to just keep training harder," Stasiunas said. "Tim's a great coach and so is the rest of the coaching staff. I'm excited to work with the rest of the team and to get new training partners that will push me throughout the rest of the season."