The hot start for Penn women’s swimming and diving cooled down this weekend, but a strong performance against mismatched opponents has kept the embers lit.
On Friday, the Quakers headed to New Jersey for their first Ivy tri-meet of the year. Against Princeton and Cornell, Penn (2-2, 1-2 Ivy) was unable to defeat either team and lost 183-117 and 168-132, respectively.
The defeat at the hands of Princeton (3-1, 2-0 Ivy) extends coach Mike Schnur’s losing streak versus the Tigers. In 14 years as head coach, the 1988 Penn graduate has never beaten Princeton, which has not finished outside the top two places in the Ivy Championships since 1996.
The loss to Princeton still shows signs of improvement for the Red and Blue, who were demolished by the Tigers, 298-92, last season. Sophomore Rochelle Dong was the first to individually defeat both the Tigers and the Big Red with a 56.51 performance in the 100-yard backstroke , holding off a slew of Princeton challengers.
While Penn’s loss to Cornell (3-2, 2-2 Ivy) for the second straight year looks disconcerting on paper, Cornell’s use of fast suits placed them at a huge advantage over their Ivy foes. An upset over Princeton last year marked the Big Red’s first victory ever against the Tigers, and Cornell chose to use the compression swimwear, shave and rest its athletes in an attempt to shock and surmount the powerhouse again.
However, the move was not only unsuccessful, but also revealing for Cornell. While Princeton still beat them, 167-133, Penn’s close contest with Cornell raises bigger red flags for the Big Red and shows signs of hope for the Red and Blue. Cornell captured all but one event over Penn in 2013-2014, but sophomore breaststroker Haley Wickham joined Dong as first-place finishers for Penn, accompanied by a few more victories just over Cornell.
The diving unit struggled in the Garden State, winning against neither school in the 3-meter dive and only defeating Cornell in the 1-meter . While freshman Maggie Heller improved her 3-meter score from her last meet against Connecticut, sophomores Cassidy Golden and Sivan Mills saw drops.
What matters most about these meets are not the scores, wins or losses. Rather, the improvement of times in preparation for Ivy Championships is the number one concern. Dong cut her 100 fly by .04 seconds, and for a team with a lot of young talent, every millisecond will count as the February championships draw closer.
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