Pat Schirk and Kaitlin O'Brien Selected to U.S. National Team for Competition at Japan International Grand Prix
Aug. 7, 2007
University Park, Pa.; August 7, 2007 - Penn State standout swimmers Pat Schirk and Kaitlin O'Brien have been selected to compete on the U.S. National Team at the upcoming 2007 Japan International Grand Prix meet in Chiba, Japan, which will be held later this month, August 21-24. They will be among a group of 50 of the top swimmers in the United States that will compete at this meet. Also, Penn State head swimming coach Bill Dorenkott has been selected as an assistant coach for the team.
Both Schirk and O'Brien were named to the team based on their performances at last week's ConocoPhillips U.S. Nationals held in Indianapolis. Both met established time standards in their respective events to earn inclusion on the team. Schirk will be swimming in the 100 and 200-meter backstrokes while O'Brien will swim in the 200 and 400-meter individual medleys as well as the 200-meter breaststroke. Schirk and O'Brien are among a group of over 20 Penn State swimmers that have posted qualifying times for next year's Olympic Team Trials, which will be held in Omaha, Neb. next June.
Schirk finished fifth in the finals of both the 100 and 200 backstroke events at last week's Nationals, finishing behind noted Olympic veterans such as Michael Phelps and world record holder Ryan Lochte. In doing so, he moved up in both the U.S. as well as the world rankings for each event and is now currently ranked in the top ten in the world in the 200 backstroke, behind only such notables and world record holder Phelps, Lochte and Aaron Piersol. Schirk is the school record holder at Penn State in both backstroke events, breaking both records last season. The native of Pottstown, Pa. will be entering his junior year this upcoming season.
O'Brien also put up a pair of top eight finishes at Nationals last week as she finished seventh in the 200 breaststroke and sixth in the 400 IM. She also earned a second swim in the 200 IM and placed 20th in that event. A native of Caldwell, N.J., she is a two-time Big Ten champion in the 400 IM and also holds the Penn State school record in that event, setting it as a freshman and then breaking it again as a sophomore last year. She was an All-American in the 400 IM as a freshman and an honorable mention All-American in the 400 IM last year.
"We are thrilled and proud of both Kaitlin and Patrick," said Dorenkott. "Any time someone from Penn State can be represented on the national team, it's a significant accomplishment."
Dorenkott will assist head coach Chris Davis in coaching the team. No stranger to coaching top swimmers or in top competitions, Dorenkott has previously coached in the World University Games and the PanAm Games. He is entering his 20th season in the coaching profession, his 13th season at Penn State, his 10th year as the Nittany Lion women's head coach and his seventh year leading the men's team at Penn State. Under Dorenkott, the women's team has finished in the top three at Big Ten Championships in each of the past seven season, including three championships, the only team in the Big Ten to accomplish that feat during that time span.
The traveling squad for the Japan International Grand Prix will assemble in San Francisco and travel to Japan on August 16. The team will then conduct a training camp in Chiba from August 17-20 with competition to follow over four days from August 21-24, with the team returning to the United States on August 25.