With both the Penn State men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams ranked in the top 20, this season has been a success so far. But there’s still a ways to go.
Both teams are sporting winning records, and the No. 17 men are currently at 3-2 (0-1 Big Ten), while the No. 14 women are at 4-2 (1-0).
Up next for Penn State is Navy, whose men’s team (5-4) looks to challenge the Lions. Navy women’s team, at 6-2, will look to sink the Lady Lions.
“The men beat us last year, it came down to the last relay and we don’t want to have that again,” said Schultz. “On the women’s side we have to make sure we have a good meet to make sure we do what we’re supposed to do.”
Schultz stressed practicing race strategies against the Midshipmen in anticipation for the Big Ten championships at the end of February.
“We are starting to isolate events that we are going to be focusing on for the Big Ten’s and NCAA’s,” assistant coach Thad Schultz said.
The men’s and women’s teams opened the season with wins against West Virginia and Villanovato get off to a strong start.
One spark for the Lions was men’s swimmer John Hauser, a junior transfer from Maryland, who won three individual events in the first two meets.
“Swimming-wise, it’s going well, better than I could’ve ever hoped,” Hauser said. “Going from one coaching technique to another, it was a little hard at the beginning but after the first few months in you get used to it.”
On the women’s side, junior Gabi Shishkoff started the season with five individual first place finishes in five different events.
“It’s been going really well, I think I’ve had lifetime bests in everything I’ve swam and that’s really exciting for me,” Shishkoff said.
The men then lost to both Indiana and Virginia, while the women beat the Hoosiers, but fell to the Cavaliers.
The women were led by a win in the 200-medley relay.
For the men, two bright spots were freshman Shane Ryan and junior Sean Grier.
“Shane Ryan, a freshman coming in is doing unbelievable work in the pool and Sean Grier has had a good season so far,” sophomore swimmer Nick Ankosko said.
The teams then moved on to two invitational meets in Georgia and Tennessee.
“I’d say the Georgia meet has been the big meet for us, racing against the top couple teams in the country like Cal and Georgia,” Schultz said.
Each team had swimmers earning “B” cuts, an invite to qualify at the NCAA swimming championships.
“We had a lot of people going best times and had an amazing meet,” said Shishkoff.
The men’s team moved on to Missouri State and earned a win taking 11 of the 16 events.
In the women’s next meet, the team won eight of the 16 events, beating Missouri State, but falling to the University of Arkansas. The team will try to rebound this weekend against Navy.
When asked if he’s expecting big performances out of any swimmer this weekend, Schultz responded with one word that can speak for the season.