The Penn men’s and women’s swimming teams travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to compete in the Cavalier Invitational this weekend.
Facing obstacles from both Mother Nature and competitive opponents, the Red and Blue were able to emerge victorious.
Facing tough competition that included Duke, Virginia, William & Mary and James Madison in a championship-style meet, the Quakers were able to put forward strong performances. The men’s team (6-4, 4-3 Ivy) took the top spot in its competition while the women’s squad (5-5, 2-5) finished in the middle of the pack .
Prior to the meet, Penn was not able to arrive in time for Friday’s preliminary swims due to the snowstorm that swept across Philadelphia on Thursday. The delay prevented the Quakers from competing in individual events for points, putting both teams in a bit of a hole.
“I told [the swimmers] that it was a good challenge for us, that we wanted to try to get as many points as possible, and that we were going to swim to win,” assistant coach Dan Schupsky said.
Accordingly, the Penn men’s team swam only two events for points on Friday, which included the 200-meter freestyle and 400 medley relays. The team was able to take first place in the freestyle, finishing one second faster than second place Duke.
Like the men, Penn’s women’s team swam the same two events on the first day of competition with similar results.
To kick off the meet, the Quakers finished with a second-place finish in the 200 freestyle relay. After the dust settled on day one, the women’s team found itself in fourth place overall and needed to make a move on the second day of the meet.
“It could have been something where we let the weather get us down,” Schupsky said. “But our kids were really positive and really upbeat, and we just stayed with the game plan, which was to swim fast.”
Saturday marked a strong showing for the Penn men’s team. The Red and Blue were able to take advantage of strong individual and relay swims to position themselves atop the leaderboard by the end of the meet.
Alex Elias was the standout performer of the weekend for Penn. The junior not only put together a fourth-place finish in the 400 individual medley , but also took second in the 1650 freestyle.
Saturday’s events also showcased some of the young talent that the Quakers have boasted all season long. Freshman Jimmy Jameson finished second with an excellent swim in the 100 fly with a 49.01, a mark that was only a second off senior captain Rhoads Worster’s school record .
While the women’s team wasn’t able to pull ahead of the pack, they still finished the meet in third thanks to some strong performances from veteran swimmers.
In the 400 individual medley , Penn was able to earn a large chunk of points with a second-place finish from junior Carly Gurick and a third-place finish from senior Julia Anderson .
Senior Anne Maercklein also took fourth overall in the 200-yard breaststroke, lifting the Red and Blue slightly higher in the standings.
“[This meet] shows the strength of our team, how fast our team has gotten and how good our freshman are,” Schupsky said.
The Cavalier Invitational was able to showcase not only the strength of the Penn swimming program, but also the depth of Ivy League swimming overall.
Penn was able to represent the Ancient Eight well over the weekend, and with less than two weeks until the Ivy Championships, the Quakers will soon have the opportunity to prove themselves against their talented conference opponents.