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Men's and Women's Swimming 2016-2017 Season Preview

Men's and Women's Swimming 2016-2017 Season Preview

10/19/2016 — The Penn State Altoona men’s and women’s swimming teams are in the midst of a youth movement entering the 2016-2017 season, and head coach Greg Scallen believes that the potential of his young teams is boundless. First-year swimmers comprise the majority of both the men’s and women’s rosters, and Scallen sees a foundation that could anchor the swim program for years to come.

Men’s Swimming

Of the 11 swimmers on the men’s roster, nine are freshman newcomers. Often times, young teams are disadvantaged due to a lack of experience. But Scallen, who is entering his sixth year at the helm of both the men’s and women’s swimming programs at Penn State Altoona, thinks that the newcomers on the men’s side can achieve big things right away.

"The newcomers are, swimmer for swimmer, the most talented group of freshmen assembled in my tenure as head coach at Penn State Altoona," Scallen stated. "The possibilities are extremely exciting if they are all willing to embrace the sacrifices required to realize their full potential. They are off to a very positive start."

The two returners featured on the Lions’ roster are senior Connor Fanks (Ellwood City, PA/Riverside Beaver County) and sophomore John Polidoro (Bensalem, PA/Holy Ghost Preparatory). Fanks has posted a strong career at Penn State Altoona, twice taking All-Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference honors in relay events, in addition to being named his team’s Most Valuable Swimmer last season. Polidoro enjoyed a good freshman season in the pool, joining Fanks on the All-Conference team last season while being awarded the AMCC’s Swimmer of the Week award once.

"Connor and John’s roles will be even more magnified this season than last. As the only returners, the expectation of both is to be strong leaders in and out of the practice setting," Scallen explained. "They both bring experience and a clear understanding of the culture they are charged to exhibit to all the incoming swimmers. With nine freshmen on the roster, both will need to continue to lead by example in every aspect of the program, and I’m confident they will both answer that call."

With so many newcomers on the team, a head coach cannot always predict how the individual student-athletes will fit together as a unit. Scallen is confident in his team’s physical talent, and now he looks for them to develop chemistry as a team.

"They are all getting to know one another, and chemistry isn’t something that can be forced. It must develop as they practice, compete, and interact with each other," he said. "So far, I’m pleased with how things are progressing in this area. They are all great individuals, and I believe they will grow into a great team. I like the direction the team is heading."

The Penn State Altoona men’s swimming team started its season by combining with the women’s squad to place second in the Pitt-Bradford Panther Relays on Saturday, October 15. Next up, the team travels to face new AMCC opponent Alfred State College on Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. before hosting its first home meet of the season against Pitt-Bradford on Saturday, October 29 at 1:00 p.m. in the Adler Natatorium.

After eight more dates of competition, the Lions will swim in the season-capping AMCC Championships, held over the course of three days from Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11.

Women’s Swimming:

Much like their counterparts on the men’s side, the Penn State Altoona women’s swimmers are mostly first-year student-athletes. Out of 10 swimmers on the roster, seven are in their first seasons with the program, and five of those are freshmen in college. Scallen knows that it will be a challenge for the newcomers to adjust to college swimming, but he is hopeful that the squad will mature over the course of the season while showing improvement at each meet.

"All of the newcomers have the ability to contribute," Scallen stated. "I expect each swimmer to realize their fullest potential."

The Lady Lions’ trio of returners consists of senior Maria Gibson (South Abington Township, PA/Abington Heights) and sophomores Eva Gerhart (Pottstown, PA/Owen J. Roberts) and Sheclyia King-Allsopp (Brooklyn, NY/Abraham Lincoln). Gibson is coming off of a strong season, during which she earned one AMCC Swimmer of the Week award, and Gerhart and King-Allsopp were both steady contributors last year as freshmen.

"I will depend a great deal on my three returners. They have been battle-tested, and their experiences of last season will be of great benefit to the newcomers to the program," said Scallen. "All three have very unique leadership skills, and blended together, will provide a positive atmosphere for our first-year swimmers."

Scallen expects to see constant positive development this season, and he hopes that his team will peak by the end of the season in the AMCC Championships.

"As always, my hope is that these young ladies will come together in every way necessary to reach their fullest potential as a steady, consistent, and competitive unit," he explained. "I believe all will come together in a very short time. They realize that in order to be successful, they will all need to make some sacrifices for the good of the team. I’m pleased with how they are developing, and I look forward to watching them swim with purpose and confidence."

The Penn State Altoona women’s swimming team combined with the men’s team to place second in the season-opening Pitt-Bradford Panther Relays on Saturday, October 15. The team’s next meet is at Alfred State College, the newest member of AMCC swimming, on Saturday, October 22 at 1:00 p.m. After that, the Lady Lions host AMCC opponent Pitt-Bradford in the Adler Natatorium on Saturday, October 29 at 1:00 p.m.

The women’s team goes on to compete on nine different dates before the three-day AMCC Championships on Thursday, February 9 through Saturday, February 11.


TAGS: men's swimming women's swimming