It was a tough year for Penn swimming. The men finished next to last in the Ivy League at 1-6 in conference play, while the women finished at 2-5 in Ivy play, good for third-to-last in conference play.
But the Quakers’ struggles don’t mean that the bar isn’t high for either side heading into the Ivy League Championships from Feb. 28 – Mar. 2 (for the women) and Mar. 7-9 (for the men).
In fact, it’s easy to see why Penn’s swimming teams have been very close this entire year when looking at the effect of their respective captains.
“What a captain does is they show up, they work hard, they lead their team and all of our captains do a good job at that,” coach Mike Schnur said. “You have to be a leader in practice. Everybody has to look up to you as an athlete.”
Junior captain Rhoads Worster has already racked up many of the accolades a coach could want in one of his top swimmers. Worster set the Penn record in the 100-meter butterfly last year and earned a second-team All-Ivy selection in 2011.
“Rhoads is in the position where he’s the first one to the weight room,” Schnur said. “He never misses practice. On a daily basis, he’s in there doing more than everyone else.”
Seniors Ryan Littlefield and Ryan Carey, also men’s captains, both recently had strong races in the Cavalier Invitational in Charlottesville, Va. Carey took third in the 200 IM with a personal best time, and Littlefield managed to finish second in the 500 free with a season-best time.
The women’s captains include diver Alison Miller and seniors Melissa Parratto and Blair Webb . Like the men’s captains, these women have demonstrated much talent in the pool this year. Parratto also broke three Penn records within the last three seasons, including in the 200 fly. Webb was a member of the Penn record-setting 800 free relay team.
But perhaps these captains’ most important contribution this year has been bringing their respective teams closer together. That cohesion should pay dividends while both programs prepare for the Ivy League Championships.
“We spend every day, twice a day together at the pool, and then outside of the pool where we’re hanging out together,” Parratto said. “I think [the team chemistry] stems from [the environment of the team]. Sometimes it can stem from leadership, too.”
The captains leading their teams to the Ivy League Championships in a few weeks will hope to propel their teammates to have some good swims against tough Ancient Eight competition.