Participating in their last home meet ever, Penn State’s swimming and diving seniors had only one thing in mind — race hard, and finish on top.
On Saturday afternoon, in front of a packed McCoy Natatorium, the seniors did just that, dominating their races in tremendous fashion as they bid adieu to a building that has been their home for the last four years.
“Just watching the seniors, you think back to when they were freshmen and now you see them as seniors, to me that’s what this day was about,” coach John Hargis said. “Just thinking back, thinking across the four years and the whole maturation process, seeing it come to fruition is pretty special.”
On both sides, several seniors contributed to the Nittany Lions’ big win over Towson.
Paige Whitmire, who Hargis says is one of his most consistent swimmers, finished first in the 100-yard fly with a time of 56:17 and also contributed to the women’s team’s victory in the 200-yard free relay.
“There’s a lot of different emotions,” Whitmire said. “I’m glad I made it through the program, but I’m also very sad, and anxious to get to the end of the season. You work for the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments so I’m excited to get past this point and start really focusing on those events.”
Whitmire wasn’t the only female senior to have a big day. Amy Mogdlin won the 100-yard backstroke event with a time of 56:14, and Merritt Krawczyk posted a victory in the 200 IM and helped the Lions win the 200 IM relay.
The men’s side saw Jeff Gomez swim one of his best meets of the year. The senior, who Hargis and teammates described as one of the most “likable” members of the team, won the 100-yard back event with a time of 51 seconds and also finished first in the 200-yard IM race with a time of 1:55:05.
Chants of “Go-mez” erupted from his teammates soon after the race was over, with a smiling senior emerging from the water triumphant.
“There was a lot of excitement today,” Gomez said. “I wasn’t expecting the cheer. I wasn’t sure how the race was going to go either. I’m not used to going from one race to the next so fast like that, but on the turns I was able to see how ahead I was and I just really wanted to win.”
Hargis said Gomez is another senior the team is really going to miss.
“You know, I always tell these kids that this program is like wet concrete, every footprint is always left in one way or another,” Hargis said. “And what these kids have done for the program these last four years has been remarkable, and we’re truly going to miss them.”