Oftentimes in sports, the stats accurately show everything one would need to know about a contest. That was not the case for Penn men’s swimming over the weekend.
From Thursday to Saturday, the squad finished fourth at the Ivy League Championships, posting an overall team score of 1042.5 points.
Although the result fell short of the squad’s goal of matching last year’s mark, coach Mike Schnur took an extremely positive view of his team’s performance.
“I think we exceeded every expectation that I had,” he said. “We swam so fast at this meet.”
The result is, on paper, a step back from the team’s third-place finish at last year’s Ivy Championships. But all things considered, Schnur is entitled to feel good about what his squad accomplished.
And there are quite a few things to consider. First of all, there’s the improving nature of the Ivy League.
“The Ivy League is extraordinarily fast in men’s swimming right now,” Schnur said. “We’ve never had a meet like this.”
Additionally, the Quakers competed without standout freshman swimmer Alex Peterson, who is recovering from a jaw injury. Not to mention the fact that the Red and Blue didn’t field a single men’s diver.
In the face of this adversity, the Red and Blue actually gained ground relative to last year on the meet’s top two finishers — Princeton and Harvard.
“We really stepped up nicely. We were faster this year in every event than we were last year,” Schnur said. “Last year’s [Penn] team — we would kill them right now.”
Junior stars Chris Swanson and Eric Schultz stood out throughout the Championships for the Quakers.
Swanson took first place in all three distance free events — the 500-, 1000- and 1650-yard — in meet-record times. It is only the sixth time an Ivy League swimmer has completed such a sweep.
“I don’t think you could get a more perfect weekend,” Schnur said. “He did everything but sell hot dogs between events ... He set himself up as one of the all-time great Ivy League swimmers.”
Meanwhile, Schultz took the top spot in the 200-yard freestyle championships in addition to finishing runner-up in both the 50- and 100-yard free. Both Schultz and Swanson were among the meets’ most prolific scorers.
With both stars returning for their senior campaigns next year and an emerging sophomore class rounding into form, Schnur has found a lot of reason to be optimistic for the future.
“Our younger guys really made great strides from last year,” Schnur said. “If we have the same time drops again next year that we did this year, we’ll be a tough team to beat.”
The meet marks the end of the season for the majority of the program, as those who did not make the Ivy squad finished up their seasons at the ECAC Championships.
However, Swanson has already automatically qualified for the NCAA Championships, where he will compete later in the month. It remains to be seen whether or not Schultz will join him at the meet.
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