The Gannon University men’s and women’s swimming teams began competing Wednesday in this year’s Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference championship meet.
The Knights have multiple swimmers at the top of the conference heading into the championships in various events.
The meet is set to take place from Wednesday to Saturday at the YMCA of York County, with the preliminary events taking place at 10 a.m. each day and the final events taking place at 6 p.m. that night.
The Knights will be sending 30 total swimmers. The men will have 14 swimmers competing, while the women will have 16.
Junior Brent Benedict, who has been dominant for Gannon this season, is heading into this week undefeated in individual races on the year. Benedict has won 19 total races.
He is slotted in the third spot in the 50-yard freestyle (20.68 seconds), as well as the 100 free (45.44). Benedict is just .23 seconds behind the first seed in the 50 free and .36 out of first in the 100 free.
Benedict, who owns the fastest conference times in the 100 butterfly (47.97) and the 200 backstroke (1:48.16), has opted to not swim these events at this year’s championships.
Benedict doesn’t consider the backstroke to be one of his best events and he already has met an NCAA “B” cut time for the 100 fly, so he is expected to be invited to the NCAA Division II championships in that event.
He will focus on trying to meet NCAA qualifying times in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 backstroke this week.
Junior Jon Ekas is also ranked fourth in both the 100-yard backstroke (50.35) and 200 backstroke (1:50.71).
On the women’s side, Silvija Taraska is seeded well in a few events. Taraska sits in the fourth spot in the 50 free and the 200 free, as well as fifth in the 100 free.
Taraska, who is just a sophomore, has burst onto the scene for the Knights and has shown considerable growth in just her second season in the pool for Gannon.
“I have seen the most growth this year in the 200 free,” said Taraska. “I did not swim this event much before coming to college, and throughout this year this event has allowed me to pick up new techniques that have helped me improve as an all-around swimmer.”
The swimmers who are competing at the PSAC meet know that it is a big event. Taraska is no exception in this.
“I really enjoy swimming in the relay events at PSACs because everyone seems to step up at a big meet and swim their best,” said Taraska. “I am seeded well heading into this week, but I also have girls who are ahead of me and I am looking forward to going against them.”