FEDERAL WAY, Washington, March 29. IN the same fashion as Oregon State's Saori Haruguchi won OSU's first NCAA title last week at the women's meet, Penn State's Patrick Schirk gave his program its first NCAA crown at the NCAA Division I Men's Championships in the 200 back.
Shirk cut his lifetime-best time down from a 1:40.87 set at Big Tens when he became the sixth-fastest swimmer of all time tonight with a 1:40.22.
His performance kept the title in the Big Ten as Northwestern's Matt Grevers claimed the title in 2007 with a 1:38.71.
"It feels pretty good," Schirk said. "I think that's the first National Championship ever for Penn State. I just found that out last night, too. I was told I'd be the first All-American also in the 65 years that Penn State has had [swimming]. It feels great.
"The strategy was that I just needed to go out fast and put myself in the opportunity to swim well and make things happen," Schirk continued. "I was not trying to think about what the rest of my field was doing. If I start doing that, I psych myself out. I try to just keep my own race plan going on. Today, I was just trying to put it out on the line and hold on."
Arizona's Cory Chitwood placed second with a 1:41.20 to become the 13th-fastest ever in the event, while Florida's Roland Rudolf claimed third in 1:41.49.
Arizona increased its lead to 96 points over Texas, 415 to 319, after the event. Stanford (247), California (244.5) and Michigan (223) owned the rest of the top five team spots.