It wasn’t even close, if the decibel level of the cheers in the Bryce Jordan Center was any indication.
At this THON Weekend’s Pep Rally, Penn State’s men’s swimming and diving team won its second consecutive crown, with a routine that might have even exceeded last year’s in level of excitement. Even with an intro from PJ Mullen that hyped them up defending champions, the swimmers stuck the landing on their high-octane performance, which even featured a walk across the stage, atop the palms of his teammates, from diver Lucas Kachurick.
“It was awesome to walk across the stage! The crowd started screaming, my teammates got me up perfectly, and it just pumped me up,” Kachurick said. “It was one of the best feelings I’ve ever had.”
What’s most surprising about the swim team’s win is that no one on this team has any organized dance experience. And probably no one on the team thinks that he is a good dancer either, according to swimmer and performance choreographer Tom Mershon.
Mershon, who lead the swim team’s performance for both of its championships, describes choreography as a guilty pleasure.
“I honestly have no experience,” he said. “I have a love for dancing though and just always have.”
The team’s performance was capped off by nine handstands by nine swimmers and divers, spelling out “THON [Four Diamonds symbol, Four Diamonds symbol] FTK,” which ended in wild cheers from a full house in the Bryce Jordan Center. That particular idea came to life in one of the team’s many practices — despite its level of difficulty, the team wasn’t too worried due to the swimmers’ and divers’ strength.
“I’m just glad it went over well and turned out how we planned it,” Mershon said.
As for whether or not the the team felt pressure to repeat as Pep Rally champions, Mershon said that team absolutely came in wanting to win, but it was more concerned with enjoying the experience and creating a performance that the crowd would love.
“We love creating the dance even more, though, and have a blast being together all the time,” he said. “A lot of laughs are shared; a lot of goofing off, too.”
For the swimming and diving team, THON is big part of the team’s morale — they love participating in FT5K, athlete hour, and the pep rally, according to Mershon. “Helping out this great cause just makes our Penn State experience even better,” he said.
When asked if the team had a message for the Four Diamonds families and dancers in attendance, Mershon responded poignantly.
“We THON for all of you,” he said. “The THON families inspire us everyday and are a huge part of our Penn State experience. We would like to thank THON for letting us contribute to this awesome weekend with making a dance and could not be more happy to have this opportunity. THON ON FTK!”
Embedded below is our own Jack Lukow’s video of the team’s performance: