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Feb. 19, 2013
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa.; February 19, 2013-- It has been seven years since the Penn State women's swimming and diving program has stood atop the podium at the Big Ten Swimming and Diving Championships, but the No. 24 Nittany Lions will look to reclaim the top billing this weekend at the University of Minnesota's University Aquatic Center.
Penn State will look to get off to a quick start at the 2013 conference summit, ranking among the top three teams in the Big Ten in the 200 medley relay, 800 freestyle relay and 200 freestyle relay, which are the opening three events of the meet. Penn State qualified with the top time in the Big Ten in the 800 free relay, swimming 7:08.26 at the Georgia Fall Invitational. That meet also provided the second fastest time in the 200 medley relay (1:39.50) and the third quickest 200 free relay (1:31.000) entering the championships.
The relay events could be a major factor in how well Penn State does at the Championships, with the Blue and White also owning the top qualifying time in the 400 freestyle relay at 3:17.83 and the second fastest time in the 400 medley relay at 3:37.86.
On the individual side of the program, Mackenzie Powers (Sycamore, Ill.) will look to defend her Big Ten title in the 100 butterfly after setting a personal, school and Big Ten record at last season's championships. The junior enters the meet with the fourth fastest qualifying time on the year at 54.03 and has posted three NCAA B Cut times in the event.
The trio of Merritt Krawczyk (Kingwood, Texas), Gabi Shishkoff (Franklin, Mass.) and Chelsea Weedman (Poway, Calif.) will look to rake in the points for the Nittany Lions as they all enter the four-day event ranked among the top-10 qualifiers in the 200 & 400 IM and the 200 butterfly.
Krawczyk will look to make a statement as she enters the championships ranked second in the 200 IM with a qualifying time of 1:58.61 and three NCAA B Cut qualifying times, sits fifth in the 400 IM at 4:13.20 and owns the fifth fastest time in the Big Ten in the 200 fly at 1:58.17. The junior is also ranked sixth entering the prelims of the 100 breaststroke with a time of 1:01.42 and will swim the 200 breaststroke, where she ranks 22nd in a qualifying time of 2:15.54.
Shishkoff will have five individual swims and ranks among the top-10 in four events. The junior sits atop the 400 IM qualifying field with a season-best time of 4:09.92 at the Georgia Fall Invitational and has three NCAA B Cut times in the event. In the 200 IM, Shishkoff has a pair of NCAA B Cut times and enters the championships ranked fourth in the event with a season and career-best time of 1:59.52. She sits seventh in the 200 butterfly and eighth in the 1,650 freestyle with times of 1:58.85 and 16:25.40, respectively. She is also among the point contenders in the 500 freestyle where she qualified 23rd with a season-best time of 4:52.06, just four seconds shy of the tenth place qualifier.
Weedman will take to the pool with the top-10 qualifying times in the aforementioned events. The junior cracked the two-minute mark in the 200 butterfly and 200 IM this season, claiming season-best marks of 1:58.44 and 1:59.12, respectively. She also swam 4:12.92 in the 400 IM and owns two NCAA B Cut showings in both of the IM events.
Modglin enters the event with the second fastest qualifying time in the 200 backstroke at 1:54.63 and owns five NCAA B Cut marks in the event, while Whitmire has qualified second in the 50 freestyle in a time of 22.43. Siverling is among the top-10 in a pair of distance freestyle swims, ranking seventh in the 500 freestyle and 10th in the 1,650 freestyle. The junior owns a personal-best time of 4:46.77 in the 500 free and has clocked a career-best time of 16.28.96 in the 1,650 free.
The festivities at the Big Ten Championships will get underway on Wednesday, Feb. 20, and conclude Saturday, Feb. 23. The championships begin Wednesday night with timed finals of the 200-yard medley and 800-yard freestyle relays at 7:30 p.m. ET. Competition will begin at Noon ET Thursday through Saturday with preliminary heats, while finals will begin at 7:30 p.m. ET nightly.