Swim meets are known for being close affairs. Individual events are often contested by tenths of a second, and the meets themselves often come down to just a few points.
However, on a team that is over 30 members strong, only two Quakers have been getting a crack at the 38 points that are available in the meets’ two diving events.
Senior Will Hartje and freshman Jack Stein are two of three individuals in the Penn men’s diving program, and fortunately for the Quakers, these two have risen to the challenge admirably.
While other programs generally compete with three divers, Penn has made do with just two Florida natives ever since its third diver, sophomore Peter Magliulo, got injured over winter break.
Hartje and Stein have been impressive all year and have given the Quakers an early edge in several meets.
“Even though we are small in comparison to other programs, we still have great opportunities to really have an effect on the outcome of any meet,” Hartje said. “We are kind of like the kickers on the football team, just as influential to the score, but few in number.”
Against the best that the Ivy League can throw at them, both Stein and Hartje still put in quality performances.
In the meet against Harvard, Stein took first in the one-meter dive, while Hartje took fourth in the three-meter event. Outside of Ivy competition, these two have also been dominant. On Senior Day against La Salle, Hartje took the top spot for Penn in both events and was first overall in the three-meter dive.
In addition to the bond formed by being part of a small, specialized group of athletes, Hartje and Stein share another common denominator: They competed against each other in high school.
“I guess it just goes to show you have to keep your friends close, but your enemies closer.” Hartje said of his past competions with Stein. “But in all seriousness, having Jack here to push me has been really important to me getting the most out of every practice and every dive.”
In addition to pushing his diving partner, Stein has proven to be a catalyst for the diving team’s remarkable turnaround. Last year, Penn failed to win an individual diving event all season. This year, the Quakers have barely gone a meet where they didn’t win at least one individual event, all thanks to Stein’s efforts.
“It’s a great feeling being a position where we expect to do well.” Hartje said. “A year ago we were just focused on not giving up too many points, whereas this year we go out there expecting to do well.”
With the Ivy championship meet fast approaching, the men of the Penn diving team are looking to take a swing at some of the big names that sit atop the Ancient Eight. The Quakers will undoubtedly be helped by the return of Magliulo, who has been training in order to get healthy for the final meet of the season.
“The pressure of the Ivy championships is huge,” Hartje said. “It’s one thing to compete at the state level in high school, but this level of competition is just a whole different animal. Even though it’s still just a pool and a diving board, there is something about the meet that just changes everything.”
However, if the Red and Blue continue to perform the way they have all season, then there really is no limit to what they can do at the championship meet.
After all, Harjte is right: It’s just a pool and a diving board.