As they approach the finish line to this season, Penn’s swimmers are coming around the home stretch and rapidly gaining momentum.
This weekend, the Quakers’ men and women participated in the Cavalier Invitational in Charlottesville, Va., where they squared off against schools such as Virginia, Duke and James Madison.
The men (4-6, 1-6 Ivy) took first place overall out of six teams, while the women (5-5, 2-5) placed second out of five teams.
Even though the season started out slowly for Penn, with many strong swims but not many wins to show for it, the team seems to be peaking at the right time of the year.
Despite a few early losses, coach Mike Schnur believes that his teams were better equipped for invitational meets at the end of the season rather than the dual meet format that predominates the early part of the schedule.
“They drop a lot of time when they rest,” Schnur said. “We have a team that puts in a lot of work all year. When you cut that work off, and start tapering, people start to go fast.”
The men’s victory over the rest of the field in Virginia this weekend was quite convincing, as they took first place by well over 100 points. The strong team effort included a first-place swim and new Penn record from senior Nick Johnson in the 100-meter backstroke, as well as a win by seniors Logan Ware and Christopher Fleming, sophomore Sam Ruddy and freshman Kevin Intrieri in the 400 freestyle relay.
“We had a great meet,” Schnur said. “It’s one of those meets where they were rested, they were ready to go, they put on their fast suits, and a lot of the work they did this year paid off.”
The women also had a strong showing, going into the finals with a 15-point lead. But James Madison rallied to take a 33-point lead and drop the Quakers to second place. Some strong swims included a second-place finish from freshman Meaghan Kwarcinski in the 400 IM and a second and third-place finish in the 1650 freestyle by junior Julia Anderson and senior Tatiana McLaughlan, respectively.
Though neither the men nor women’s teams that competed in Virginia were the Quakers’ Ivy League teams, they both put on a strong showing, which bodes well for the portion of the team that will compete in the Ivy Championships in a few weeks’ time.
“They had the exact same workouts as [our Ivy League team],” Schnur said. “Most of the seasons when we’ve been going to meets like this, when the first group goes down and swims great, usually the second group does too.”
Meanwhile, the men’s Ivy League team competed in a dual meet against No. 16 Harvard.
Even though the Quakers fell to Harvard, the Crimson only narrowly won some races over the Quakers.
Freshman Kyle Yu put on a strong showing, taking first place in the 100 and 200 breaststroke. Meanwhile, classmate Chris Swanson finished in a close second place in the 1000 freestyle.
With the Ivy League Championships up next on Mar. 7, the men’s Ivy team will hope to show that, like the men in Virginia this weekend, it has a knack for swimming well in invitational-style meets.