Savoy, Whitmire earn Most Outstanding Swimmer awards at annual banquet
Nittany Lions open NCAA Championships on Thursday
Nittany Lions return home Saturday
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For just the fourth time in the 40 years of Penn State swimming and diving, it welcomed a new head coach. John Hargis took over the program as the first new coach in 10 years and led both the men's and women's squads to solid seasons in 2008-09.
His first year at the helm was a highly successful one, leading both programs to national rankings throughout the season. The women's program was as high as 15th heading into the NCAA Championships where six Nittany Lions competed along with five on the men's side. Vincent Reydams, Patrick Schirk, Jason Goldner, Basil Kaaki, and Brian Alden all received Honorable Mention All-American to lead the Lions to a 32nd place finish. The women placed 38th led by two Honorable Mention All-American finishes from Kelly Nelson and one from Kaitlin O'Brien.
In addition, the men's and women's squads combined to break an astonishing 14 school records in Hargis' first season.
Hargis returned to Happy Valley where he was an assistant coach at Penn State from 2003-06 before moving onto Arkansas-Little Rock where he was named head women's swimming coach in February of 2007. He was also the head coach and the chief executive officer of the Little Rock Arkansas Dolphins club swimming program.
"John has demonstrated that he has the ability to continue the success of our swimming program both athletically and academically," said Director of Athletics Tim Curley at the time of his hire. "He has been a swimmer at the highest level, having won an Olympic gold medal, and he also has a large array of experience as a coach, both at the collegiate and the club levels. We are extremely pleased to welcome John and his wife, Lauren, and son John back to Happy Valley and are prepared to help him keep our swimming programs moving forward"
"We are delighted to have John Hargis return to Penn State as our new head coach of men's and women's swimming," said Susan Delaney-Scheetz, Penn State Associate Director of Athletics and Senior Woman Administrator. "John's knowledge, enthusiasm and passion for swimming and Penn State will enable him to take the program to new heights."
With Hargis at the helm, he became just the second head swimming 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.
"I am glad to be back in the blue and white of Penn State and it is exciting to be back in the tradition of excellence that Penn State provides, both athletically and academically," said Hargis prior to last season. "Both my family and I are excited to once again be part of the Penn State culture and we look forward to continuing the tradition that has been set by those before us in the swimming program."
Hargis left his assistant post at Penn State in September of 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 title 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 title 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 of 2006 before being elevated to head coach in February of 2007. While heading the Trojan 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.
While with the Nittany Lions, Hargis was on 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 the Mountain West Conference Male Swimmer of the Year. He was the head age group coach for the Raleigh Swimming Association club team for two years prior to his stint at the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. Before that, he served for three years as an assistant to the athletic director at his alma mater, Auburn University.
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. For the Tigers, he was part of a national championship team in 1997 and a member of the 200 medley relay team that broke NCAA, U.S. Open and NCAA Meet records in 1997. He was also a part of the NCAA champion 400-medley relay team in 1997. A three-time Southeastern Conference 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. 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 and son, John.