McHugh breaks Penn State 500 freestyle record at Big Ten championships

February 15, 2018

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Junior Ally McHugh broke her own school record in the 500 freestyle to lead three Penn State finalists on the second day of competition at the 2018 Big Ten Women’s Swimming & Diving Championships Thursday night in Ohio State’s McCorkle Aquatic Pavillion.

McHugh touched fourth in the event in 4:38.44, shaving 0.33 seconds off her previous record set in the same pool in November.

“Ally picked up where she left off from the relay last night,” said Penn State head coach Tim Murphy. “She did a very, very good job racing.”

Joining McHugh with evening swims were seniors Niki Price and Katrina Kuhn, who also surpassed the NCAA B-cut standard and posted personal bests. Price’s best swim came in the preliminaries, as she ascended to fourth on Penn State’s all-time performers list in the 200 IM with a time of 1:58.18 to rank 11th, but slipped in the finals to 16th in 1:59.60.

Kuhn finished 20th overall in the 50 freestyle in 22.90 seconds, shaving six-hundredths off her prelim time.

Penn State concluded Thursday with an 11th-place finish in the 400 medley relay with a season-best time of 3:39.43. Maddie Hart led the relay off with a 100 backstroke split of 52.72 seconds, which is an NCAA B-cut time and ranks her as the fourth-best performer all-time at Penn State in the 100 back.

Other notable 500 free efforts included a pair of personal bests. Freshman Stephanie Szekely finished in 4:49.06 and sophomore  Hannah Blaser finished in 4:54.40.

The Nittany Lions rank eighth as a team with 168 points, trailing seventh-place Northwestern (184) and leading ninth-place Iowa.

“There is a lot of swimming still to go,” said Murphy. “We have some work to do, but some good things are happening.”

On the opening night Wednesday, the Nittany Lions set season bests in the 200 medley and 800 freestyle relays, led by a NCAA B-cut performance and sixth-place finish in the 800, which freshman Camryn Barry, seniors Tommie Dillione and Price, and junior McHugh combined to finish in 7:07.32.

"Cam led off pretty much on top of her best time, Niki and Tommie were solid, and then Ally really closed out the evening for us running down two other teams," said Murphy. "It was a remarkable effort on her part.”

Penn State opened the evening with a seventh-place finish in the 200 medley relay in a season-best 1:38.80. Hart led off the effort, and was followed by freshman  Maddie Cooke and seniors Price and Kuhn.

"We put some freshmen in some big spots in the relays, and they responded," said Murphy. "The 200 medley relay was flat out solid. Maddie Cooke got us off to a good start - first Big Tens, first relay - with a nice split. Niki was really good in the 50 fly, and then Katrina had a really nice anchor split."

Last Updated February 16, 2018