The phrase “all-time best” gets tossed around a lot in sports. However, no other phrase better captures Penn men’s swimming’s performance at this year’s Ivy League Championship meet.
Penn claimed a school-record six individual Ivy League titles en route to a program record of 1,213.5 points at the championships. The Quakers’ third-place finish in the three-day meet marked only the second time in program history that the team has finished in the top three, falling behind only Harvard and defending champion Princeton.
While the historic achievements of the team are impressive, it was the individual accomplishments that made the meet truly special for the Quakers.
Freshman Mark Andrew announced his presence to the rest of the Ivy League in spectacular fashion. After finishing third in the 200-yard individual medley on Thursday and breaking a Penn record with a preliminary time of 1:45.15, the rookie came back on Friday to win the 400 IM in decisive fashion.
His time of 3:43.53 not only broke his own school record, but gave him the all-time Ivy League, Ivy Championship meet, and Brown pool records. Andrew went on to score additional points for Penn in Saturday’s 100 freestyle event, where he finished eighth.
Penn’s standout seniors Eric Schultz and Chris Swanson also added to their legacies over the weekend, as each claimed multiple individual titles.
On Friday, Schultz claimed his second consecutive Ancient Eight crown in the 200 free with a winning time of 1:35.22, which was slightly slower than his winning time of 1:34.80 last February. Later that day, Schultz combined with Andrew, freshman Thomas Dillinger and junior Kevin Su for the 800 free relay, where the team finished second despite setting a new school record of 6:25.79.
The senior found himself on the podium twice more on Saturday for both an individual and relay event. Schultz claimed another individual title in the 100 free with a time of 43.19, which represented his fourth Ivy championship as a member of the Red and Blue.
The relay team of Schultz, Andrew, Dillinger and Su also snagged another school record with a second place finish in Saturday’s 400 free relay.
Not to be outdone, Swanson claimed three Ivy titles over the weekend on his way to becoming the most decorated swimmer in Penn history with nine total championships.
For the second consecutive year, Swanson won all three of the meet’s distance events, winning the 500 freestyle on Thursday, the 1,000 free on Friday, and the 1,650 free on Saturday. The senior has now won the 1,650 all four years at Penn, and his time of 4:16.13 in the 500 freestyle was a new Ivy League, Ivy Championship and team record.
“Whats so impressive about Chris is the speed he has in the shorter events in addition to his natural distance ability.” Penn coach Mike Schnur said. “Nobody had the guts that he did to go out in the 500 and swim that speed right out of the blocks, and thats why he is the greatest distance swimmer in the Ivy League.”
After the meet, Swanson was awarded both the Phil Moriarty and the Harold Ulen recognitions, for being the meet’s top points scorer and the meet’s top career points earner, respectively.
“The seniors this year were difference makers plain and simple. ” Schnur said. “We are going to have a tough time replacing these guys, but with freshman like Mark [Andrew] coming through I think we are going to be able to handle the transition better than most programs.”
While the season may be over for most of the swimmers, some members of the team will begin gearing up for the NCAA Championships starting March 24. And for Schultz and Swanson, it will be one last chance to cement their names firmly in the history books.
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