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Rules of the Game

Collegiate swimming and diving includes 14 individual swimming events, 5 relay events, and 3 diving events, for both men and women.  These events are:

  •  Backstroke swimming (BA) - for 100 and 200 yard races. 
  •  Breaststroke swimming (BR) - for 100 and 200 yard races. 
  •  Butterfly swimming (BU) - for 100 and 200 yard races. 
  •  Freestyle swimming (FR) - for 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1,650 yard races. 
  •  Individual medley (IM) - for 200 and 400 yard races.  An individual swims ¼ of the race using each of the above strokes.
  •  Freestyle relay (FRR) - for 200, 400, and 800 yard races.  A team of four swimmers participate, each swimming ¼ of the race.
  •  Medley relay (MR) - for 200 and 400 yard races.  A team of four swimmers participate, each swimming ¼ of the race.  Each swimmer swims a different one of the above strokes.
  •  1 meter and 3 meter springboard dives.  Dives are attempted off of a flexible diving board 1 meter and 3 meters above the water surface.
  •  Platform dives.  Dives are attempted off of stationary platforms that are 5, 7.5, or 10 meters above the water surface.  Collegiate divers may select the particular platform(s) off of which they dive.

Judges determine the scores for all divers.  A diver’s position can be straight, pike (slight bend at hips), tuck (body folded, hands on shins), or free (includes components of all other positions) during passage through the air.  Dives may include twists and somersaults.  Head-first water entry must vertical, with hands together and arms straight and extended in line with the body; feet-first entry requires straight arms close to the body with no bend in the elbows.  Diving scores are based on the diver’s success and the difficulty of the dive attempted.  

Penn State Men’s Swimming & Diving History

Penn State men’s swimming dates back to 1936, when Robert Galbraith coached the team.  Penn State did not field a team in 1945 and 1946, but returned to competition in 1947 under William Gutteron.  After five years, the University abandoned the sport at the varsity level from 1952-1967.  Then, coached by Lou Macneil beginning in 1968, the Nittany Lions never finished higher than fourth in the East until they won the Championship in 1984, Macneil’s last year as coach.  Peter Brown succeeded Macneil and the team continued its strong performance in the East, never finishing lower than third until Penn State entered the Big 10 for the 1991-92 season.

Once in the Big 10, the team continued to win most of its meets (including three 10-win and one 9-win season), but usually faltered in the Conference Championships.  In 1997-98, the Nittany Lions jumped to third place in the Big 10 Championships, and followed that up with their only Big 10 title the following year, when they finished the season 10 and 1.  They also finished 20th in the nation that year, and improved upon that with a 19th place finish in 1999-2000 (and 3rd in the Big 10), and an 18th place finish in 2000-2001 (and again 3rd in the Big 10).  Brown coached 19 All-Big 10 selections, 6 individual Big 10 champions, and 3 Conference relay team champions.

Bill Dorenkott took over the men’s head coaching reins from Brown for the 2001-02 season.  He continued Brown’s success, leading the Nittany Lions to winning seasons in three of his five seasons.  His teams finished 3rd in the Big 10 twice, and also earned the school’s highest NCAA finish ever (15th, in 2002).  That year’s senior class left quite a legacy; one 1st and three 3rd place team finishes in the Conference, team NCAA finishes of 20th, 19th, 16th, and 15th, and six NCAA individual and relay top-10 finishes.  In 2008, Pat Schirk won the NCAA 200-meter backstroke championship and was 1st team All-American, while Basil Kaaki qualified for Lebanon’s 2008 Olympic team.  Schirk also won a silver medal in this event at the 2009 World University Games.  Dorenkott coached one national champion, eight All-Big 10 selections, four individual Big 10 champions, two Conference relay team champions, and compiled a meet record of 35-29before resigning in April, 2008.  He was succeeded by John Hargis.  After the 2013 season, Hargis left Penn State.  In August, 2013, Tim Murphy, the coach at Harvard the previous 15 seasons, was named as Hargis’ successor.    

In 2014, the team finished 5th at the Big 10 Tournament; Shane Ryan earned gold in both the 100 yard backstroke and freestyle, and was named Swimmer of the Big 10 Championships.  Ryan then placed 2nd in the 100 yard backstroke at the NCAA Championships (2nd best performance in an individual event in school history), earning 1st team All-American honors.  The Nittany Lions finished 17th at this meet, the 5th best in program history.

In 2015, Penn State finished 7th at the Big 10 Championships and 24th at Nationals.  Shane Ryan won Big 10 gold in the 100 yard backstroke and bronze in the 50 yard freestyle; he followed this up by placing 3rd nationally in the 100 yard backstroke.  Nate Savoy was a silver medalist in both the 100 and 200 yard backstroke at the Big 10 Championships, and an honorable mention All-American in both events at Nationals.

In 2017, Ryan won a gold medal in the 100m backstroke, a silver in the 100m freestyle, and a bronze in 50m freestyle,at the Big Ten Championships, and was a 1st All-Conference selection.  Hector Garcia Boissier was an honorable mention All-Conference selection in the 1m dive.

Both Ryan and Garcia Boissier represented the Nittany Lions at the National Championships; Ryan finished in 6th place in the 100m backstroke, earning his third career All-American honor at that distance.


In 2018, the team finished eight at the Big Ten Championships, even though Penn State’s participants scored 47 career-bests.  Hector Garcia Boissier then won the 1m and 3m springboard dives at the NCAA Zone A Championships, and came in 7th in the platform dive, thus qualifying for the NCAA Championships in all three events.  This marked the 3rd straight year that he qualified for the National Championship Tournament, and he wound up finishing 12th in the 1m springboard, 9th in the 3m springboard, and 28th in the platform dive.


The team competes at the McCoy Natatorium and the outdoor pool.


Team Accomplishments

Eastern Championship

Big 10 Championship   

Notable Divers

Chris Devine (1991-92, 1994-95)

1994 3rd place NCAA (1-meter dive)
1994 5th place NCAA (3-meter dive)
1995 6th place NCAA (1-meter)
1994, 1995 1st team All-Big 10   
1994 Big 10 Champion (3-meter dive)     
1994 1st place U.S. Senior Nationals (3-meter dive) 

Notable Swimmers

Bob Molettiere (1999-2002) 

2000 7th place NCAA (800 FRR)
2001 10th place NCAA (200 and 400 FRR)
2002 10th place NCAA (400 FRR)
1999-2002 1st team All-Big 10
1999 Big 10 Champion (100 FS, 200 FRR)
2000 Big 10 Champion (200 MR)
2001 Big 10 Champion (400 FRR)
2002 Big 10 Champion (200 FRR, 400 FRR) 

Eugene Botes (2003-2006)

2001 10th place NCAA (200 MR, 400MR)
2002 10th place NCAA (400 FRR)
2001-2003 1st Team All-Big 10
2001 Big 10 Champion (400 FRR)
2002 Big 10 Champion (100 FR, 200/400 FRR)
2003 Big 10 Champion (100 BU)
2003 1st place World Championships (50 BU)
2003 1st place U.S. Senior Nationals (100 BU)
2004 Olympic Team (South Africa)

Shane Ryan (2013-2015, 2017)

2014 1st Team All-American (400m medley relay and 100m backstroke)
2015 Big 10 Champion 100m (backstroke)
2015 1st Team All-American (100m backstroke)
2016 Ireland Olympic team (100m backstroke)
2017 Big 10 Champion (100m backstroke), 2nd place (100m freestyle), 3rd place (50m freestyle)
2017 All-American (100m freestyle and backstroke)

Player Recognition

National Champions – Pat Schirk (200 BA, 2008)

First team All-American – Abel Gilbert (1944); Chris Devine (1994); Pat Schirk (2008); Nate Savoy (2012); Shane Ryan (2014, 2015,2017)

Big 10 Individual Champions – Thad Davis (100 BU, 1993); Chris Devine (3-meter dive, 1994); Bob Molettiere (100 FR, 1999, and 50 FR, 2001); Eugene Botes (100 BU, 2001 & 2003, and 100 FR, 2002); Joe Peresan (200 IM, 2001); Mike Alderman (1-meter dive, 2006); Shane Ryan (100 BA, 2014,2015, 2017, 100 FR, 2014)

Big 10 Relay Champions – Comeau/Hostetler/Molettiere/Okoniewski (200 FRR, 1999); Carscallen/Molettiere/Teeter/Weaver (200 MR, 2000); Retrum/Molettiere/Minnier/Botes (400 FRR, 2001); Botes/Lutz/Minnier/Molettiere (200 FRR, 2002); Botes/Minnier/Molettiere/Schierhorn (400 FRR, 20002).

First team All-Big 10 – 29 selections, including 4-time selectee Bob Molettiere (1999-2002).

Big 10 Freshman of the Year – Nate Savoy (2012).

Swimmer of the Big 10 Championships  - Shane Ryan (2014).

Olympians – Eugene Botes (2004, representing South Africa); Shane Ryan (2016, representing Ireland).

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