Any time a school record falls, it is a welcomed sight.
But when that record is broken on the biggest stage of the season, it becomes even more memorable.
For Shippensburg University junior Andrew Hale, this week’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) Swimming Championships happened to be that stage. The highly touted Raider touched the wall in 1:52.30 in the 200 individual medley, a time that would earn him third place in the event and served as one of his six All-PSAC swims over the course of Wednesday and Thursday.
But Hale’s record-breaking pace of the pool was just the cornerstone to the Raiders’ four days at the Graham Aquatic Center (York YMCA) in York, Pennsylvania, as the men’s team placed second overall, and the women’s team finished third. For the men’s team, it was its best finish at the championships in 12 years and the women’s team in four years.
Men’s monumental days
The men’s squad, competing Wednesday and Thursday, did not waste any time climbing its way to the All-PSAC performances board. Redshirt-freshman JC Greenwood kicked off the Raiders’ day with a second-place tally in the 1,000 freestyle. Hale followed suit with his record-setting 200 IM swim, giving the Raiders an early 2-for-2 in All-PSAC placings.
SU would wrap up Session 1 with two scorings in the 50 free — thanks to sophomore Elijah Zinn and senior Hunter Keck — and only trailed PSAC powerhouses Bloomsburg and Gannon University in the 200 medley relay.
The opening of Session 2 resulted in a duplicative outcome in the 200 free relay, third place. The Raiders most triumphant event — the 400 IM — succeeded as SU garnered placings of 1-2-3-4. Freshman Michael Salvatori crowned himself league champion in his championship debut with a time of 4:04.77. Juniors Hale, Matt Bochanski and Vin Salvatore would round out second, third and fourth place.
The Raiders cooled off in the 100 butterfly and 200 free before another third-place swim in the 400 medley relay, concluding SU’s day with a trio of Top 3 finishes in the relay events.
Come Day 2, the Raiders remained hot out of the blocks. Greenwood and Savaltori claimed second and fourth in the 500 free, the third of four All-PSAC performances for Greenwood across the two-day span.
Hale returned to his All-PSAC form in the 100 breaststroke two events later, notching third. Salvatore finished fifth in the 200 butterfly. Teammates Hale, Salvatori, Greenwood and junior Trevor Woolwine touched the wall for fifth place in the 800 free relay.
Entering Session 4, Greenwood displayed his first career conference-title swim in the 1,650 free, hitting a time of 16:23.34. Salvatori rallied for second moments later in the 200 backstroke, clocking a time of 1:52.77 on the pad.
And Bochanski — a school-record holder in the 200 breaststroke and conference winner in the event — defended his title from last year, using an impressive final leg to out-touch Bloomsburg’s Blake Nesbitt by .22. The men’s team ended the meet with a third-place finish in the 400 free relay, claiming the runner-up trophy and scoring a whopping 560 points.
Women rout competition for third
The trio of freshmen Michaela Hersh, Marissa Bittner and junior Madison Breiner paved the way for the Raiders third-place rally Friday and Saturday in York. The three swimmers combined for 11 individual Top 10 finishes across the two days of events.
Breiner and Bittner got the wheels in motion in Session 1, starting the morning with eighth and ninth place in the 1,000 free. Hersh and freshman Alyssa Tomb sported Top 10 crowns in the 200 IM as well, cruising to times of 2:10.71 and 2:11.54, good enough for seventh and ninth.
In Session 2, Hersh bested her previous IM performance, taking the runner-up spot in the 400 event. Tomb, not trailing far behind, claimed fourth. Senior Mari Reott — who earned the 2021 PSAC Women's Swimming Champion Scholar award — captured fifth in the 100 butterfly.
Breiner continued her success into the evening events, swimming to fourth place in the 200 free. Bittner came .41 shy of 10th place in the event.
In Day 2 action, Breiner and Bittner took to the pool first, navigating the water in 5:14.41 and 5:17.03 in the 500 free, roping in fifth and ninth-place finishes. Reott cracked the Top 5 once more in the 100 backstroke, with junior Tomomi Nakano and freshman Sammy Taylor hot on her heels, clocking the seventh and ninth best times.
Hersh rejoined the Top 3 in the 200 butterfly, pacing the lane in 2:09.04. She became the second Raider in school history to sneak under 2:10.00 in the event.
Hersh, along with Breiner, Bittner and Taylor, milled the pool for third in the 800 free relay to close out Session 3. The bronze-medal finish would be Hersh’s second of the weekend and the thrice piece of hardware to take home overall.
In the final session, sophomore Marina Cote and Breiner finished ninth and eighth in their respective events (1,650 and 100 free). Reott, Bittner, Nakano and Hersh would run the table at 5-6-7-8 in the 200 backstroke, before Tomb would notch eighth in the last individual swim, the 200 breaststroke. The Raiders capped-off their championship weekend with a fourth-place tally in the 400 free relay, thanks to the team of Breiner, Taylor, Bittner and Reott.
The end result for the women: third place, only to be beaten by new conference champion Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) and Bloomsburg.