- Katelyn Sowinski, Eagle Swim Team, Middle-Distance Freestyler
- Casey Francis, Pine Crest, Distance Freestyler
- Andy Schuehler, Jersey Wahoos, Breaststroke/IM
It is a new era in Penn State athletics, but head coach John Hargis has grabbed three good recruits early this fall to continue the upward swing that the Nittany Lions have seen over the last few seasons.
The two additions on the wmoen’s side are Katelyn Sowinski and Casey Francis, who more-than-likely will end up training together in Penn State’s Middle/Distance group.
Sowinski has bests of 1:49.13 in the 200 free and 4:47.75 in the 500 freestyles; the Nittany Lions haven’t had a swimmer come in with those kind of credentials in those two events in at least half-a-decade.
Two years ago, she moved with her family to the Texas from Maryland, where she had swum for the Naval Academy Aquatic Club. Her stay in the Lone Star State was with the North Texas Nadadores, the same program that produced top Louisville recruit in the class and Junior National Champion Aaron Greene. She’s now back in Maryland with the Eagle Swim Team: a program that has an Olympic gold medalist to its credit in Tommy Hannan. She trains there under coach Scott Ward.
Sowinski is also a very good butterflier, with bests of 55.01 and 1:59.01.
Francis swims for the famous Pine Crest Swimming in Florida. She tends even more toward the distance freestyles, with bests of 4:50.97 in the 500 and 16:39.92 in the mile. The middle-to-distance freestyles are an area where the Lions have been good in the past, but they’ve become pretty thin there the last few seasons. These two have the talent to jump immediately to the top of that group and make a Big Ten Championship impact as freshmen.
Sowinski’s butterfly talents will likely be honed over the long-term; with juniors Chelsea Weedman and MacKenzie Powers in that group, it’s not as immediate of a need, though her 200 fly is certainly worthy of focus as a freshman as well.
For the men, Schuehler comes from the Jersey Wahoos, continuing a great Penn State tradition of recruiting New Jersey since Rutgers cut their men team. He will become the 7th Jersey native on this team (plus one graduating), including Maryland transfer Peter Fittin.
He comes in primarily as a breaststroker, with best times of 56.42 and 2:00.76, though he’s got some chops in the IM’s with a 1:52.84 and 3:58.74 in the 400 IM.
His breaststroke skills will be most coveted by the program, as Penn State is still seeking the follow-up to Mitch Scherer and Brian Alden, who both graduated after last season. Among those currently vying for the job are junior James Wilson (54.8 last season) and Maxwell Byers (57.3 personal best), though Schuehler is already faster than either of the two above were in high school. That should make for an interesting positional battle.
This is a class that very much attacked and filled needs for Penn State; further targets for both squads should include sprint freestylers, which both teams are badly in need of to fill out their sprint relays after some major graduations.