“Unfortunately you don’t get to play defense in swimming.”
That was how coach Mike Schnur described Penn’s tri-meet against Cornell and Princeton this weekend. While the Quakers were able to record some impressive times on Saturday and were easily able to handle the Big Red, the Tigers were just too fast, handing both the men’s and women’s squads their first defeats of the season.
For the women, a 200-100 victory over Cornell was offset by a 134-164 loss to Princeton, while the men notched a 217-83 win to go along with a 173.5-124.5 defeat.
On the women’s side, Penn started the meet off hot by registering its first victory of the day in the opening event, the 200-yard medley relay.
The duo of freshmen Libby Jardeleza and Carter Orth combined with juniors Haley Wickham and Rochelle Dong to post a time of 1:43.23 and set a tone of early success for the Quakers.
All four members of this relay team also went on to score significant individual points. Orth claimed the top time in 200 individual medley with 2:05.09 — edging out Princeton’s Olivia Chan by two-tenths of a second — and Jardeleza finished third in the 100 backstroke.
Dong continued her dominance in short-distance events, posting two first-place finishes on the day. Her times of 55.82 in the 100 back and 55.08 in the 100 butterfly were both good enough for a top spot on the podium.
Wickham touched up first in the 100 breaststroke in 1:03.21 before claiming the 200 breast with a time of 2:19.51.
Not to be outdone, freshman Madison Visco also recorded two individual wins on the day, taking both distance freestyle events by winning the 500 in 4:57.3 and finishing the 1,000 in 10:14.22.
“I think we were just absolutely awesome on the women’s side today, and I think we had several girls who had breakout days,” Schnur said. “Haley Wickham went faster today than she was at the Ivy championship meet last year, and Visco absolutely crushed it in an event she had never swam before. So that was incredible to see.”
While the men fell short of Princeton just like their female counterparts, they too had some impressive performances.
Eric Schultz added another victory to his lengthy resume, as the senior took first in the 50 freestyle with a time of 20.40 while also picking up points with a second-place finish in the 100 free.
“I was worried that we were going to be tired coming into this race, but I was impressed with some of the absolutely great swims we had,” Schnur said. “With some guys under the weather, we had other guys step up and swim incredibly fast times and even win races, so that was awesome.”
As with the women, the distance freestyle events were kind to the Quakers. Sophomore Alex Peterson finished second in the 500 with a time of 4:31.69, before doing one better and winning the 1,000 free.
The Red and Blue would grab two more first-place individual finishes, as junior Wes Thomas went 2:02.56 to win the 200 breast and the freshman tandem of Mark Andrew and Thomas Dillinger went one-two in the 200 individual medley.
The men capped the day with a victory in the 400 freestyle relay, as Dillinger and Schultz, combined with juniors Kevin Su and Michael Wen, posted a commanding final victory over Cornell by 3.47 seconds in a time of 3:01.70.
Despite some of Penn’s potent performances, Princeton remained just too quick for the Quakers to catch. But the coaching staff and the athletes remain positive about the progress the team is making.
“Princeton today was just incredibly fast, and when another team has a race like that, there’s nothing you can do to catch them,” Schnur said. “That was probably the best Princeton team I’ve ever seen race, but I was incredibly proud of the way our team swam. If we keep having races like that going forward, we will be more than fine.”
While the team’s next Ivy competition is not for another seven weeks, the Quakers do have their second-biggest meet of the season coming up at the Kenyon Invitational on Dec. 3. There, Penn will look to post fast enough qualifying times to make the NCAA Championship meet before several swimmers compete to earn a place at the U.S. Olympic Trials.
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