Some teams have one opponent that they dominate on a regular basis. The Penn men and women’s swimming teams seem to have two each.
Penn swimming will be celebrating its seniors at Sheerr Pool this weekend, with both the Quakers’ men’s (4-3) and women’s teams (3-5) taking on West Chester and La Salle. The Red and Blue have excelled against both of these schools and have not dropped a meet against either since the 2003-04 season.
Senior Kristi Edleson believes there are reasons that the Quakers have had such success against these opponents.
“We always swim [against West Chester and La Salle] at this time of the season, which I think is a really exciting time,” she said. “I think we’re all starting to get into that championship mode.”
Regardless of the success that the Red and Blue have had against West Chester and La Salle, the schools remain quality opponents, so Penn cannot afford to let its guard down.
“West Chester has one of the best Division II teams in the country,” coach Mike Schnur said. “La Salle is also one of the top teams in their conference.”
The West Chester men’s team (4-0) remains undefeated on the year, and it boasts some talented swimmers. Sophomore Victor Polyakov, a Russian exchange student, set an NCAA Division II record in the 500 freestyle in November. Against the Explorers (4-4), Penn will have to handle some strong distance swimmers, including senior Cameron Cabrera.
The Red and Blue’s men’s team will be able to put together some interesting matchups for both competitions this weekend. Penn has one of the best long-distance swimmers in Division I, with sophomore Chris Swanson placing 33rd in the NCAA Championships last season in the 1650 freestyle.
“We’re mostly trying to be consistent with how we’ve been swimming in the year,” Swanson said.
“These meets are about fine-tuning the little things and getting ready for our championship meet.”
On the women’s side, West Chester (3-1) also has some swimmers to watch this weekend. Senior
Megan Winslow is a versatile athlete, able to compete strongly in the backstroke as well as the individual medley. For La Salle (3-7), junior Chelsey Curran has had a distinguished swimming career with the Explorers thus far, sharing at least a part of two school records.
These will be the final two dual meets of the season for Penn’s women’s team, so the Quakers hope to get strong performances from their swimmers, such as breakout freshman Rochelle Dong, who has been a steady presence in relays as well as individual freestyle and fly events.
Though history seems to favor the Quakers in this matchup, Penn still has plenty to prove to itself.
“We’re still trying to figure out what events some [swimmers] will be swimming at the end of the year and who’s going to be on relays [at the Ivy League Championships],” Schnur said. “Every time they get up and race, they show what they’re capable of.”