Swimming & Diving Heads to West Virginia for Season Opener
Oct. 15, 2010
UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. - The Penn State women's swimming & diving team will hit the pool for the first time during the 2010-11 regular season when the Nittany Lions travel to Morgantown, West Virginia for a two-day meet with the Mountaineers beginning on Friday.
The competition will open with diving events on the first day at 2:30 p.m. Saturday's action will kick off at 12:30 p.m. with the swimming disciplines.
"We're going to see where we are with the first race of the year," said head coach John Hargis. "We've done some very good training, we've done a lot of teaching, but in terms of actually seeing the kids race, it's going to be new for us. We'll get a feel of where we are and what direction we need to go and in what areas we still need to improve. It'll be good to see some of the young people in their first collegiate meet, see how they adapt, see how they relate to things and go from there."
On the women's side, Penn State enters the year following a 2009-10 campaign that saw the team post a 7-2 dual meet record and finish seventh in the Big Ten Championships. The Lions return a strong and experienced corps of competitors, headlined by six seniors and 10 juniors, including co-captains Kristen Rodman and Lauren Smart.
"Kristen Rodman and Lauren Smart are great girls, great captains," said Hargis. "They're great leaders both in the pool as well as out of the pool. They've done a great job right now of teaching the young people and holding hands when hands need to be held."
Sophomore sensation Amy Modglin will also return after an incredible freshman campaign. During her first season in Happy Valley, she earned All-America status after competing in three events at the NCAA Championships. She also was honored as the National Swimmer of the Week of January 19 and set a new school record in the 200-backstroke after completing the competition in 1:54.02.
In addition to Modglin, the Nittany Lions boast several other returners who are coming off strong campaigns. Merritt Krawczyk had an outstanding first season as well after blazing to a sixth-place showing in the 200-breaststroke and a seventh-place finish in the 200-IM during the Big Ten Championships. Junior Samantha Palser and sophomore Paige Whitmire will once again help anchor the sprint freestyle events as well, while seniors Megan Marco and Ilana Zeises headline the team's top divers.
"I think Paige Whitmire is set to do some pretty special things," said Hargis. "I think Sam Palser can do some pretty special things, but not just singling out those two, I think with even the freshman group there are some girls in that class that I think can really be some difference makers as we move forward."
The Nittany Lions will open the year against a strong West Virginia squad that finished last season with a 5-6 record before placing third in the BIG EAST Championships. Sophomore Rachael Burnett returns after earning 2010 Honorable Mention All-American honors following her performance as a member of the Mountaineers' 400-freestyle relay team that competed in the NCAA meet. Fellow second-year standout Mandie Nugent also competed in the national championships in both butterfly events.
In the all-time series between the two programs, Penn State holds a commanding 15-0 advantage. Last year the Nittany Lions pulled out a 74-39 victory during a tri-meet at the McCoy Natatorium. PSU also took the last competition in Morgantown by a 145-84 margin in 2008.
"It should be a good meet," said Hargis. "Vic Riggs has done a phenomenal job at West Virginia. He's got some kids who are going to be ready to swim fast and are going to pose some serious threats to us. It'll be a good meet. The kids, hopefully, will be ready to swim fast, should be ready to swim fast, and we'll see what happens."
Following their trip to West Virginia, the Nittany Lions will return to the pool next Saturday when the teams kick off their home slate with an 11 a.m. meet against Virginia Tech.