Swimming and diving starts 2014 with relay duals against North Carolina

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Penn State men's and women's swimming and diving teams will open up the 2014 portion of their schedules on Friday at 11 a.m. against North Carolina after nearly a month hiatus. The Nittany Lions will take on the Tar Heels in a training competition at a neutral site in Naples, Fla. for the fourth consecutive season.

Sophomore Alyson Ackman (Montreal, Quebec) looks to continue improving after notching a personal-best and school record-tying effort in the 100 free at the Texas Invite last month. Ackman tied former Lion Paige Whitmire's record time in the event, clocking in at 48.74. She has posted NCAA "B" qualifying times in four events, including the 50 free, 100 free, 200 free and 500 free and holds the top time on the team in three of her events.

Senior Gabi Shishkoff (Franklin, Mass.) has also had an exceptional start to the season, registering career-bests in six different events. Shishkoff holds the team's top times in the 500 free, 200 fly, 200 IM and 400 IM and has hit the NCAA "B" mark in all four events. Her times of 4:42.51 and 4:09.00 in the 500 Free and 400 IM rank third and fourth, respectively, in the PSU record books and her 1:58.32 mark in the 200 IM also ranks fourth.

Senior Mackenzie Powers (Sycamore, Ill.) closed out the 2013 slate by turning in a program record performance in the 100 fly at the Texas Invite, touching the wall in 52.06 to best her own record of 52.25, set in 2012. Powers also holds the squad's best times in the 100 and 200 backstrokes this season with marks of 53.49 and 1:56.89, respectively. All three of her swims made the NCAA "B" cut.

Two of the women's relay squads have hit the NCAA provisional standards heading into the New Year with the 400 freestyle relay and 800 freestyle relay turning in qualifying marks. Ackman, Carolyn Fittin (Sea Girt, N.J.), Kaitlin Jones (Midlothian, Va.) and Caitlyn Karr (Reading, Pa.) clocked in at 3:17.48 in the 400 freestyle relay while Shishkoff, Ackman, Karr and Jones earned a time of 7:10.86 in the 800 freestyle at the Texas Invite.

The Penn State men's swimming and diving program enters the 2014 calendar year ranked 14th in the nation. The squad has a dual meet record of 3-1 in the season, recording wins over West Virginia (155-129), Buffalo (155-137) and Virginia (191-162) with its lone defeat coming at the hands of No. 4 Texas (185-168).

The Blue and White's most recent competition was nearly a month ago at the Texas Invitational. While competing against some of the country's top-talent, the Nittany Lions posted many top times of the season. At the invite the team qualified for 15 NCAA "B" standard marks in individual events and the 200 medley relay team hit the standard.

Individually, Penn State has been led by the tandem of John Hauser (Pottstown, Pa.) and Shane Ryan (Havertown, Pa.). Hauser currently has recorded the fastest time in three individual events, including the 100, 200 and 500 freestyle races. The senior has reached the NCAA "B" standard in the three aforementioned events as well as the 50 freestyle. Hauser also is a member of all five of Penn State's top relay teams this season.

While Hauser is dominant at the freestyle, Ryan excels in a number of strokes. The sophomore has qualified for the NCAA "B" standard in the 50 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly events. Ryan holds the Blue and White's best time in the 50 freestyle and 100 backstroke races. The Havertown native is a member of four of PSU's top five relay teams.

After the rigorous Florida training is complete the Penn State swimmers and divers will resume traditional competitions to gear up for the Big Ten Championships. The Nittany Lions next meet will be on Friday, Jan. 17 as the men's and women's squads take on Villanova. The dual is set to begin at 2 p.m.   

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Last Updated January 03, 2014