UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State men’s swimming & diving returned from the 2012 NCAA Championships in Federal Way, Wash. following one of the most historic years in school history. The Nittany Lions earned 17th place with 54 points behind five All-Americans, taking big strides in head coach John Hargis’s fourth-year at the helm of the program.
Penn State’s 17th place showing was the best since a 15th-place performance in 2002. By scoring 54 points, this year’s Nittany Lion squad equaled the 2002 team’s performance, which is second only to the 2001 team’s 72.5 points en route to 16th place.
Moreover, Penn State’s performance in the pool in the 200 and 400 medley relays were some of the best in school history. In the 400 edition, this year’s team of Nate Savoy (Reading, Pa.), Mitch Scherer (Pottstown, Pa.), Sean Grier (Hummelstown, Pa.) and Shane Austin (Kennett Square, Pa.) broke the school record by a second-and-a-half with a 3:07.62 after a 3:09.09 showing last month at Big Tens. Coming into this year, no Nittany Lion 400 medley relay team broke the 3:10 barrier. The Nittany Lions returned to Happy Valley as All-Americans in eighth place following a sixth-place showing in the prelims, the best-ever PSU showing at NCAAs in the event.
The 200 medley relay matched the previous performance also registering eighth place and All-America honors with the same four Nittany Lions. After breaking the school record at Big Tens (1:25.61) with Brian Alden (Lansdale, Pa.) anchoring the team instead of Austin, the squad reached the NCAA Championship Final and was eighth, earning All-America honors for the second straight year (ninth in 2011).
Savoy capped his three-time All-America status in the 100 backstroke, becoming the first Nittany Lion to earn individual All-America honors since Patrick Schirk (2008) when he finished eighth. Schirk won the 200 backstroke championship and finished eighth in the 100 back competition to become Penn State’s first two-time individual All-American in a single championship.
Savoy swam below the 47-second mark twice at NCAAs, once in the 400 medley relay and again in the prelims of the 100 backstroke. In the process, Savoy became the first Penn State three-time All-American in school history, an even greater achievement considering it was his debut performance at NCAAs as a freshman.
Senior Scott Marino (Scotch Plains, N.J.) completed his second and final NCAA Championship appearance with an honorable All-America performance of his own in the 400 IM. Marino, the school’s all-time record-holder in the 200 and 400 IM events, swam 3:47.98, a season best in the prelims before finishing 16th in the finals.
Penn State graduates three senior All-Americans in Scherer, Marino and Alden, while returning Savoy, Austin and Grier. Also returning is sophomore Matt Salig (Downingtown, Pa.) who took part in the butterfly events and 200 freestyle at NCAAs in his first appearance.
Overall this season, Penn State set six new school records and had over 50 top-10 school performances in various events. The Nittany Lions return the bulk of their roster, while adding at least five talented freshmen for next year.