Men’s swimming aims to build on strong season


The Gannon University swimming and diving teams have been preparing for their seasons to start. Their first scheduled meet versus Youngstown State was postponed.

Alex Pepke, Sports Editor

The Gannon University men’s swimming and diving team put together quite an impressive season last year. Due to COVID-19 concerns, the NCAA men’s swimming and diving championships were canceled, but that does not take away from the accomplishments that the Knights earned prior to the stoppage.

Gannon finished the regular season with a 5-3 overall record, including wins versus Clarion, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and Shippensburg. The Knights also finished second at the Allegheny Gator Invitational and fourth out of 10 teams at the Magnus Cup in Cleveland.

At the NCAA championships, Gannon had four swimmers compete. Brent Benedict, Drew Mahoney, Luke Engel and Clark Eason all raced in the 200-yard men’s freestyle relay, missing out on advancing to the finals by less than a second with a time of 1 minute, 22.3 seconds.

This was the first men’s 200 freestyle relay team to qualify for the NCAA championships in program history.

Benedict, one of the best swimmers in Gannon history, also competed in three other individual events, the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle and 100 butterfly.

As Benedict exits Gannon, he will leave with a storied career. Some of his accomplishments from just the past season include two All-America awards and four Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference (PSAC) records. He also earned the PSAC Swimmer of the Year award for the second time.

In addition, Benedict leaves Gannon with six individual records – 50, 100, and 200 freestyle, 100 and 200 backstroke and 100 butterfly — while also taking home six gold medals at the most recent PSAC championships.

Coach Jacqueline Michalski recognized Benedict for not only his talent as a swimmer, but for how he inspired his teammates.

“He wasn’t only an amazing athlete, but also a really great role model and example of what it takes to be successful as an athlete,” Michalski said. “His legacy will stay within the team, and athletic department, for years to come.”

The men’s team recorded 25 new top 10 times and broke eight school records this past season.

At the PSAC championships, Gannon finished third out of seven teams. The Knights won seven different events and won 12 all-conference awards. Robert Bolmanski won the 200 freestyle and Gannon took home first place in the 400 and 800 freestyle relay events.

Benedict won all four individual events he took part in – 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke — and won the Most Outstanding Swimmer award for the championship.

The 2019-20 season was the first season under Michalski. She brought a plethora of experience to Gannon, including five years at Division I Eastern Illinois, where the Panthers set 19 program records and nine pool records under her.

Before Eastern Illinois, she coached at Division I St. Francis (Pa.) and Division III King’s College.

Her decision to come to Gannon was influenced in part by factors outside the pool.

“My interest in this position started with the reputation of the university, and the location, which brought me closer to family, and near water,” she said. “It was a combination of the university and the dedication of the athletic department that drove my decision to join the Golden Knights Family.”

The men’s team was supposed to begin its season Nov. 7 with a dual meet at Youngstown State, but the event was postponed by the host school. The Knights have been preparing for this season by competing in intrasquad and virtual meets.

The full schedule for the team has not yet been released by the PSAC or Gannon.

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