Week in and week out, one of the strongest aspects of the Penn men’s swimming team’s performances has been its dominant relay teams.
At the heart of these relays stands senior Rhoads Worster — who has been one of Penn’s most versatile athletes this season — and sophomore Eric Schultz, one of the team’s underclassmen who also had made a large contribution.
While relay teams are supposed to be close, Penn has the added benefit that these two are not only friends, but former high school teammates.
Both Worster and Schultz attended La Salle College High School, and according to Schultz, Worster was an important part of his jump to Penn swimming.
“Going to my high school gave me the opportunity to go to a school like Penn,” Schultz said. “And having Rhoads here gave Coach [Mike] Schnur a pipeline to reach out to me.
“When I came on my visit, Rhoads was my host, and having him here made it easy for me to come up and get a feel for the team.”
“We were close as teammates and as friends, and we both played water polo for La Salle as well in addition to swimming,” Worster added. “Even though we were two years apart, Eric was always close with a lot of the older guys so we were friends from that as well.”
While they might have started out as high school teammates, Worster and Schultz have both certainly proven over the years that they can leave their marks on the collegiate level.
Worster currently holds two individual school records in the 200 individual medley and 100 backstroke. He has also been part of two school record-breaking relays in the 200 medley and the 400 freestyle relay, but they have since been broken.
In only his second season at Penn, Schultz has been part of the school’s all-time fastest 200 free relay, and both he and Worster have been on multiple pool record relay teams. Against Harvard, Worster and Schultz were part of Penn’s Sheerr Pool record swims in both the 200 medley relay and the 400 freestyle relay, which finished with a perfect record in Ivy duals.
“We take a lot of pride in the fact that our 400 freestyle relay is undefeated,” Worster said. “And so now when we get up on the block we expect to win.”
For both of these swimmers, representing their team in the relay events is the highlight of any meet.
“Relays are the most fun part of swimming,” Schultz said. “You get to stand up there with three other guys, race for them and race for your team. It’s just an honor to be on an ‘A’ team.”
“I think we both learned in high school how important relays were, and how they could really set the tone of a race,” Worster added. “At Penn, my best races have come in relays, and like Eric said, they are just enjoyable.”
With the long anticipated Ivy Championship meet now fast approaching, the time has come for the Penn squad to see if its months of competition and training are going to pay off on the big stage.
If Penn is to have success, particularly in the relays, much of the pressure will be on Schultz and Worster to come up with big performances. However, if they are feeling the pressure, they don’t show it at all.
“Coming in we are ranked second or third in most of the relay events,” Schultz said. “It’s a lot of fun going in there knowing that we have a chance to win.”
“We are going to go out there, and we are just gonna fly,” Worster added. “These guys are ready to rock and roll.”