McHugh becomes Penn State's first women's swimming and diving NCAA champion

March 23, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas – Penn State senior captain Ally McHugh dominated the competition to take the national title for the 1650 freestyle Saturday evening at the NCAA Women's Swimming & Diving Championships, hosted by the University of Texas.

McHugh completed the race in 15:39.22 nearly five seconds ahead of her closest competition. The swim also shaved about eight seconds off her winning time at the Big Ten Championships last month.

The win makes McHugh the first ever Penn Stater in women's swimming and diving history to win a NCAA national title. McHugh remains Penn State's highest-finishing swimmer all-time at the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships, improving on last year's silver in the same event.

She is the first swimmer in program history to claim two consecutive NCAA medals. McHugh first medaled in the event last year when she brought home the silver with her historic 15 minute and 36.27 second school-record swim. McHugh leads past Penn State medalists Sarah Haupt (2004, 100 back) and Kristen Woodring (2001, 100 breast).

In an interview with ESPN, McHugh expressed the joy in completing her collegiate career with her first ever national title.

"I'm so proud to have that be my last college race," exclaimed McHugh, "To be here and experience this as my last college meet is just amazing. I'm really happy and can't ask for anything more."

McHugh is now a two-time All-America in the 1650 free and two-time honorable mention All-America in the 400 IM following her 10th-place, record-breaking performance Friday night.

Head Coach Tim Murphy highlighted McHugh's discipline and perseverance in the race and throughout her journey to the championships.

"My first reaction was that she did it," stated Coach Murphy, "It's not an easy thing to do. She was patient in the beginning, but she was not going to give up and just kept getting faster. These things don't just happen. She earned that and she deserved that. She had a lot of dedication and commitment, which she was able to put all together and stand on that podium representing Penn State."

Coach Murphy also gave credit to all those who worked relentlessly to help prepare McHugh for this point.

"My staff, coach Steve Barnes and Josh Graham, who trained her and worked with her deserve a tremendous amount of credit for getting her prepared," proclaimed Coach Murphy, "But, it was all Ally, she did the work and was prepared."

All in all, McHugh has left her mark on the program.

"She is a good student. A good teammate. And now, a national champion," Coach Murphy boasted.

Earlier in the day, junior Maddie Hart took home 25th place for the 200 fly after completing the preliminary race with a time of 1:56.26. This was Hart's first appearance in the NCAA Championships, and she is already showing signs of wanting more.

"Maddie had a great swim this morning," said Coach Murphy, "She has learned a lot and really put herself out there. She is already hungry to come back next year."

The Penn State duo finished in 27th at the championships. McHugh put 27 points on the board for Penn State earning 20 of those points in the 1650 free alone.


Last Updated March 24, 2019