Seventeen Women¡¯s Swimmers Advance to Finals on Day Two of Big Ten Championships
MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.; February 9, 2007 - The Penn State women¡¯s swimming and diving team once again turned in a strong performance in the preliminary heats on the second day of the Big Ten Women¡¯s Swimming and Diving Championships. For the second straight day, five different swimmers advanced on to the evening finals in two different events and four additional swimmers moved on in another event as a total of 17 swimmers will swim in tonight¡¯s finals in four different events.
Penn State will have five entries in the finals of both the 400 IM and 200 freestyle while four more will swim in the finals of the 100 backstroke and three will swim in the 100 breaststroke. The five entries in both the 400 IM and 200 free and the four in the 100 back are the most of any school in the finals of those events while the three in the 100 breast is tied for the most.
Kaitlin O¡¯Brien led the way for Penn State in the 400 IM, swimming the fastest prelim time out of a field of 36 swimmers. The defending Big Ten champion in the 400 IM and an All-American in that event last year as well, O¡¯Brien, who already owns an NCAA ¡®A¡¯ cut in the 400 IM, improved her previous time by .20 of a second in finishing in 4:14.14 to top the field by over four seconds. Megan Palera came in third and improved her previous NCAA ¡®B¡¯ cut by nearly three seconds by finishing in 4:18.51. Karie Haglund made it a trio of Nittany Lions in tonight¡¯s ¡®A¡¯ final by finishing sixth. Claire Hawley swam an NCAA ¡®B¡¯ time to finish ninth. It was the sixth NCAA cut for Penn State in the 400 IM this year and the third cut of the year for Hawley. She will be joined in the ¡®B¡¯ final by Kailey Morris, who finished 11th. Clare Clemens swam her best time of the year in the 400 IM of 4:24.03 and finished 17th to be the first alternate.
The Nittany Lions did not have any finals qualifiers in the 100 butterfly, as their best butterfly swimmers also swam in the 400 IM, which directly preceded the prelims of the 100 fly. Kaitlyn Ferguson was the best PSU finisher in the 100 fly prelims, coming in 22nd.
Penn State made up for the 100 fly, however, as it qualified five more swimmers into the finals of the 200 free, led by Kelly Nelson, who finished second in the prelims and lowered her previous ¡®B¡¯ time by nearly two full seconds. Joining Nelson in the ¡®A¡¯ finals will be Jessica Barnes, who placed sixth in a ¡®B¡¯ time of 1:48.95, her second new ¡®B¡¯ time of the championships. The Nittany Lions will also send three more swimmers to the ¡®B¡¯ finals of the 200 free as Nikki Collins finished tied for 10th, Molly Crispell placed 13th and Sarah Baker finished 15th with her second new ¡®B¡¯ time of the championships as well.
The five swimmers in the finals of both the 400 IM and 200 free are the most of any school in those two events. The next most of any school in the 400 IM is three each by Indiana and Wisconsin while Minnesota has the next most in the 200 free with four. The Nittany Lions have also guaranteed a dramatic improvement in the 200 free this year over last year, when only one swimmer -- Crispell -- placed in the top 16.
Lyndsey Smith swam her first NCAA ¡®B¡¯ cut of the year in an individual event as she finished second in the prelims of the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.04. It is the first NCAA cut of any type for Penn State in either breaststroke event this year. Smith will be joined in the ¡®A¡¯ final by Caitlin Meehan, who finished seventh to advance to the ¡®A¡¯ final in the 100 breast for the second straight year, also in a ¡®B¡¯ time. Abby Hoisington advanced to her first final of the championships as she swam her best time of the year to finish 10th. The three finalists in the 100 breast for the Lions are tied for the most of any school in that event with Purdue.
The Nittany Lions also placed the most finalists of any schools in the 100 back as four different swimmers advanced, led by Michelle Myers, who finished in :55.30 to place sixth. She is the only Penn Stater that will swim in the ¡®A¡¯ final as three more will swim in the ¡®B¡¯ final -- Daphne Skelos (10th), Kaitlyn Ferguson (11th) and Erin Morris (15th). Both Skelos and Ferguson put up new ¡®B¡¯ times, the second and third of the year in the 100 back for Penn State.
Overall, in Friday¡¯s prelims, Penn State swam seven new NCAA ¡®B¡¯ cuts in the morning session, giving them an up-to-the-minute total of 45 NCAA cuts going into the Friday night.
Tonight¡¯s finals will begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern time. Penn State will enter tonight¡¯s final in fourth place with 144.5 points. They trail Michigan (215), Indiana (188.5) and Minnesota (150) going into tonight.