Penn swimmers put fatigue behind

Training at a level they’ve ‘never trained before,’ men and women eye faster starts to their seasons

· November 10, 2011, 12:05 am   ·  Updated November 10, 2011, 12:06 am

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Alex Neier | DP

Sophomore Shelby Fortin will play a key role in the Quakers’ goal of attaining a third-place finish in the Ivy League this year. Last season, she won first team All-Ivy honors in three different events.


The swim teams have woken up.

After months of hard work, perseverance and a freshmen infusion, the Penn swim teams have put last year’s fatigue behind them, and they’re ready for a season on top.

“We have been working out since September. They’ve put a lot of work in this fall,” coach Mike Schnur said. “We’ve done a lot of long course, a lot of hard work, and I think it will pay off soon.”

Both teams will be kicking off their seasons this weekend — the men’s team will take on Columbia this Friday at Penn, while the women will swim this Sunday at Connecticut.

Between seasons, the mentality of the teams shifted from one of fatigue to one of optimism.

“That team last year came [into the season] in bad shape,” Schnur said. “They didn’t train in the summer and then they got beat up all fall and they couldn’t adapt to swimming tired.”

The team is in a lot better shape at this point in the season than it was last year.

“I think that we’ve been training at a level that we have never trained at before,” senior co-captain Brendan McHugh said. “We also are just going to change our mental approach and try not to act tired. When you’re not tired, don’t act tired.”

The men’s team, which finished with an overall record of 5-5 (3-4 Ivy), is looking to have a successful season from start to finish.

“We really weren’t very good teams until January last year, especially on the men’s side,” Schnur said.

In addition to this new attitude and physical preparedness, the newcomers to the team are yet another asset to this year’s program.

“We have a pile of freshmen on this team,” Schnur added. “And we need all of them.”

Both teams did not graduate too many swimmers, and with the 10 freshmen men and 14 freshmen women, there is a talented pool of swimmers.

The women’s team, which finished 6-4 (3-4 Ivy) last season, believes its aspirations for the season are not far-fetched.

“I think that third place at Ivies is what we’re looking for and it’s going to be very achievable,” co-captain Jackie Hain said.

“I think everyone is especially motivated this year. The goal is very reachable,” co-captain Rebecca James said. “We’ve got a little more fire.”

Both teams have worked extremely hard to get where they are now.

“The hardest part of the season is October,” Hain said. “And now that we’ve gotten through that and into meet season, the light is at the end of the tunnel in terms of showing off what you’ve worked for.”

The same goes for the men’s team.

“Our team overall talent-wise is better, work-out-wise is better, so I think everything is headed in the right direction,” McHugh said.

This year’s team also returns sophomore Shelby Fortin, who set four individual program records in the freestyle. She’ll have her eyes set on improving even further.

“I think we have a lot of individual goals as well,” Schnur said. “We’d like to get some NCAA qualifiers on both sides. We missed by eyelashes last year. Brendan McHugh missed the hundred breaststroke by less than two tenths. Shelby Fortin missed the 500 [free].”

Overall, if the teams continue to move in a positive direction, this looks to be a promising season.

“The kids on the team, if they continue their progression getting better and better, good things will happen,” Schnur said. “It will lead to higher finishes. It will lead to the Ivy championships. It will lead to All-Ivy selections. It will lead to all kinds of good stuff — Olympic trial qualifiers, all that fun stuff.”

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