On Tuesday morning, the Penn State men’s swimming and diving team left McCoy Natatorium for Bloomington, Ind. and the Big Ten championships.
The No. 24 Nittany Lions will compete in an electric atmosphere for four days to determine the conference champion.
After two sixth place finishes in the last two years, the men will have to follow up a strong showing by the women, who brought home third place along with nine new school records last week.
“To see them go and swim fast and break all those records, it definitely motivates us, we watch results, we watch them swim live online so we know what’s going on and it really pumps us up to get going,” junior Sean Grier said.
Grier is one of the swimmers to watch this week. He will be racing in the 100-backstroke and 100-butterfly, two events in which he has broken McCoy Natatorium pool records this year.
“He’s going to be one of the best guys in the 100-back and one of the best guys in the 100-fly this week,” coach John Hargis said.
The junior said he’s ready to go for his races and is excited for the team as a whole.
“I think we have a really good group of guys going this year and it’s definitely going to be one of the better showings we’ve had in a long time,” Grier said.
Another swimmer to watch is John Hauser, who will be competing in some of the freestyle and individual medley events.
Hauser said he’s looking forward to swimming fast and seeing how his teammates do. He also said he hopes to move up in Big Ten rankings.
“It’s exciting, it’s a little nerve wracking, but you’re excited because it’s what you’ve been working towards all year so you want to see your hard work pay off,” Hauser said.
In diving, sophomore T.J. Schenkel has been preparing all season for Big Ten’s.
“Just brushing up on technique, little things here and there, and just trying not to belly flop,” Schenkel said.
Hargis mentioned backstroke and individual medley swimmer Nate Savoy as someone to watch. He also said some of the relay teams would have a chance to place this week.
“We just need everybody to come together and everybody be on point at the same time, especially from a relay standpoint to do something,” Hargis said.
Junior Shane Austin added that the relays provide a good atmosphere to race in, with all the people standing and cheering.
“The number of parents and fans and alums that will be at the meet brings an electric environment,” Hargis said.
The team has been preparing all year for this competition and NCAAs and Hargis said it’s trying to finish the season strong.
“It’s gonna be exciting. It’s gonna be fun. We’ve got some opportunities to do some pretty special things, hopefully we’ll be breaking a lot of team records as well, hopefully we’ll be winning events. That’s the goal,” Hargis said.