Over the past few years, the Penn women’s swimming and diving team has developed a perplexing trend when matched up against Columbia.
During the regular season, the Lions seem to have the Quakers’ number — Penn has lost each of the last three dual meets between the two squads.
Penn (3-1, 2-1 Ivy) has had far more success in the postseason, finishing ahead of Columbia (1-3, 0-3 Ivy) in each of the past two Ivy League Championships.
On Friday the dual meet losing streak ended for the Red and Blue with a 165.5-135.5 victory over Columbia at Sheerr Pool.
Nevertheless, coach Mike Schnur believes that his team’s previous trend makes sense because dual meets and the postseason are fundamentally different competitions.
In a dual meet, one team’s top six swimmers face off against the other team’s top six. However, in a championship meet, a team typically uses seventeen swimmers.
“We’ve always had a lot of quality swimmers, but this year we’re winning in events that we’ve never contended in before,” Schnur said.
Much of this newfound success is coming from freshmen. First-year swimmers Shelby Fortin, Julia Anderson, Katherine Ashenfelter, and Kristi Edleson all posted top three finishes on Friday.
“This really is a special class,” Schnur said.
Senior captain Naomi Delphin, who won the 200-yard freestyle and swam in the winning 400 free relay team, offered another reason for the team’s stronger performances at championships: tough training during the season.
“We train really hard all through the fall, and we don’t really rest at all, so we’re really broken down for dual meets,” she said. “By the time championships come around, we’re rested and we can show everyone how tough we really are.”
Coach Schnur said that this grueling training gives Penn an edge over their opponents.
“If they can survive me all week, then they can win meets like this because they’re still fighting at the end,” he said.
Like some Penn students who may be on a beach somewhere over winter break, the women’s swim team will also be enjoying sunny weather — except they will be spending most of their days at practice.
This January, the swim team will embark on its annual journey to South Florida for training and a dual meet. The women will take on Brown on Jan. 5.
According to Schnur and Delphin, the Florida trip is one of the highlights of the season.
“There is no school so all we do is swim, eat and sleep, and hang out and have a good time,” Schnur said.
Delphin added that “it is a lot less stressful because you don’t have to worry about classes.”
The Brown meet kicks off a difficult January for the Quakers, who will face off with Ivy League powerhouses Harvard and Yale 10 days after the Brown meet.
If the Red and Blue can find success in January, they will be in position to post their first winning record in the Ivy League since 2007.