Competing in her final individual event of her illustrious career, Pennington put forth a record-breaking performance to win her second national championship. Swimming in lane four, the senior swam a school-record time of 49.41 to claim the title. Earlier in the day in the prelims, Pennington qualified first with a 49.86, which broke her previous record of 49.94 that she swam in 2012. The senior entered the event seeded second with a qualifying time of 50.10.
"Concluding my collegiate swimming career with a national title was one of the best feelings of my life," said Pennington. "I would have been happy simply getting a best time, but winning was even more than I could have wished for. As for our team I'm extremely proud to represent Springfield College, with the others that went to Indianapolis. We had a small team in comparison to others but we all performed well and had a great time doing it. " Pennington, who is majoring in Physical Education, becomes the 13th student-athlete just the fourth woman in the history of Springfield College athletics to win multiple national championships, as she was crowned the NCAA Champion in the 50 freestyle in 2012. Prior to tonight, just women's gymnast Patti Corrigan '72, track and field athlete Janet Williams '86, and diver Nora Kelly '99 were the only females to have multiple individual national titles. Pennington and Williams are the only females to win a national championships in different years at Springfield.
When Pennington won the 2012 NCAA Championship in the 50 free, she did so as the top-seed and won with a school-record time of 23 seconds flat.
This is the sixth-straight year that a Springfield College student-athlete has claimed an individual NCAA National Championship. In 2009, Steve Headley won the indoor 55 meter dash and 100 meters, in 2010, Nikki Hay won the indoor triple jump and Headley won the 100 meter dash. Kevin Coyle won the indoor long jump in 2011, Pennington captured the 50 freestyle national title in 2012, and last year, wrestling's Devin Biscaha won the 157 lb. weight class.
In his 25th season as the head women's and men's swimming coach, this is coach John Taffe's second national champion. Pennington is just the second student-athlete in the history of the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) to be named the conference's Athlete of the Year in all four years of their collegiate career.
Photo credit TJ Foreman