Once again, Harvard ruined a perfect afternoon.
In their first, last and only home meet of the season, the Penn men’s and women’s swimming and diving teams hosted Brown and Harvard for the final Ivy competition of the regular season. But while both the men and women knocked off Brown by scores of 215.5-82.5 and 181-119, respectively, Senior Day was spoiled for the 18 outgoing members of Penn’s roster by Harvard, which beat the men, 206-88, and the women, 165-135.
The women’s events started off in exciting fashion in the day’s first event, the 200-yard medley relay. Sophomore Libby Jardeleza, senior Haley Wickham, freshman Wendy Yang and senior Rochelle Dong scratched out a victory by one one-hundredth of a second over Brown (5-3, 2-3 Ivy) with a time of 1:43.86, after trailing in the race from the start.
Dong, who anchored the relay, also picked up wins in the last home meet of her illustrious Penn career by capturing the 50-yard freestyle and the 100-yard butterfly in times of 23.28 and 55.79.
“I still don’t think I’ve wrapped my head around the fact this is the last time we’re swimming here, and it’s absolutely crazy to think we’ll be leaving after being here for so long,” Dong said. “It’s bittersweet for sure, but I’m really happy with how we swam today.”
The second event, the 1000-yard freestyle, also went the Quakers’ (7-3, 4-3) way featuring a Penn sweep, as junior Carolyn Yang’s time of 10:04.42 placed her atop the podium, and sophomore Madison Visco (10:09.68) and freshman Grace Ferry (10:09.97) were good for second and third.
The 200-yard butterfly also saw multiple podium spots for Penn, as sophomore Nancy Hu touched up first in 2:02.08, with junior Annie Tran flowing close behind her with a 2:04.68, good for third place.
Senior Haley Wickham clocked a 1:05.02 in the 100-yard breaststroke, good for second place, and in the 200 breaststroke, freshman Serena Xue and junior Sydney Tan claimed the top two finishing times of 2:20.13 and 2:20.88, respectively.
Trailing Harvard 91-78 in a close meet at the halfway point, Penn managed to keep the meet tight with some strong second-half events, but ultimately couldn’t catch the Crimson (5-0, 5-0), who sealed the contest with a first-place finish in the final race, the 400 freestyle relay.
“I was thrilled with how close we are to Harvard, and I thought our women did a phenomenal job today,” coach Mike Schnur said. “We took a whole lot of events from them, and a couple tenths of a second here and there and it’s a whole different meet.”
On the men’s side, Harvard (8-0, 5-0) once again spoiled the day for the Quakers, though the Red and Blue did salvage a split by comfortably dispatching Brown (5-3, 2-3).
After silencing the home crowd by setting a pool record in the first event, Harvard went on to set an additional five Sheerr Pool records in the 200 freestyle, the 200 backstroke, the 200 breast, the 100 butterfly, and the 200 IM.
For Penn (7-3, 4-3), though, senior Kevin Su was among the bright spots on an otherwise frustrating afternoon. The California native placed second in the 200-yard freestyle with a time of 1:39.16, placed third in the 100-yard freestyle, and combined with fellow seniors Zach Fisher and Michael Wen and freshman Chris Nicholson to place second in the 400 freestyle relay in 3:04.06.
Sophomore Mark Blinstrub also picked up important points by swimming a 50.07 in the men’s 100-yard backstroke, good for second place, and junior Hunter Brakovec swam to a second place finish in the 200 butterfly with a 1:51.14.
Sophomore Thomas Dillinger ended up on the podium in all four events he swam in on Saturday, with second-place finishes in the 200 medley relay, the 100 free, the 200 IM and a third-place finish in the 50 free.
Despite the team’s mixed overall results, there were still plenty of smiles poolside at the end of the Ivy racing season, as the team’s focus begins to turn toward bigger meets.
“I think we feel really good going into the championship racing season, especially with all the hard work we have been putting in over the last few weeks,” senior Grant Proctor said. “That can sort of take away from the dual meet season as we’ve seen, but it definitely adds up to more success at the end of the year, and that’s what’s most important to us.”
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