Penn State swimming doesn’t get much attention, but one swimmer certainly earned special recognition over the weekend.
Sophomore freestyle/backstroke specialist Shane Ryan became the first Nittany Lion to ever be named Swimmer of the Big Ten Championships after his record-setting performance at the 2014 Big Ten Championships Meet last weekend.
Ryan became the first Penn State swimmer win two individual gold medals in the same Big Ten Championship, as he broke a school and conference record with his time in the 100 freestyle, while narrowly missing the meet record in the 100 backstroke.
In the 100 freestyle, Ryan finished the race in 42.08 seconds, winning the race by 0.6 seconds over the second place finisher. His time obliterated the Penn State record set in 2002 by Eugene Botes, who posted a 42.90 in the race. The time also broke a record by Olympic gold medalist Matt Grevers of Northwestern, who swam a 42.33 in 2007.
“He’s been working a long time,” head coach Tim Murphy told GoPSUSports.com. “His 100 freestyle race was impressive. I asked him to be ahead at the 75-yard mark because I felt if he was there he would beat anybody in the last lap and he decided to lead from start to finish. It was very impressive, an excellent swim.”
While Ryan’s performance in the 100 backstroke missed breaking the meet record by 0.03 seconds, his time of 45.13 seconds crushed former teammate Sean Grier’s record of 45.71 seconds, which was set last year.
Ryan’s performance helped lead the No. 24 Nittany Lions to a fifth place finish at the meet, and will compete at the NCAA Championships later this month in Austin, TX.