Mike Schnur is one of two coaches at Penn who knows how it feels to coach two teams. That means that some days he goes home feeling conflicted.
While the men’s swimming team lost both their meets this weekend — Friday to Columbia and Saturday against the University of Connecticut —the women beat the Huskies resoundingly, racking up 171.5 points to UConn’s 126.5.
“I’ve been at Penn 10 years and I’ve never seen [the women] swim any better than that, especially considering we didn’t prepare for the meet,” Schnur said.
The results bode well for the future of the team, as the freshmen accounted for five first-place finishes. The Red and Blue graduated eight seniors last season, so replacing that power was in the front of coach Schnur’s mind. Shelby Fortin won all three of her races, starting off her Penn career with a bang.
Unlike the freshmen women, the men didn’t come through to the same degree.
Freshman Rhoads Worster contributed to a second place finish in the 200-yard medley relay, but as a whole the freshmen still seem to be adjusting to collegiate swimming.
“In high school, you can swim tired and win all the time because the guys we’re recruiting are the top four percent in the country,” Schnur said. “In college they’re swimming against people of equal or better ability and it takes some time to learn how to swim a college dual meet.”
As a result of the two meets scheduled not even a full 24 hours apart, the men suffered from exhaustion.
“We were really, really tired, broken down, and to do two back to back meets is really tough,” junior Brendan McHugh said. “I think that of all the things we could have attained out of this weekend, what we got was mental toughness.”
The experience that comes with being forced to swim tired will be invaluable towards the end of the season.
“You can make sure you can swim tired and swim rested, so at the end of the year we should reap the benefits,” McHugh said.
In the first meet, Columbia’s 20-year-old tradition of hazing their freshmen may have given them an extra edge. The freshmen have to shave their heads before their first meet — which reduces drag — a strategy Schnur reserves for non-dual meets.
Generally, Penn will only shave for the Kenyon Invitational and the Ivy League Championship, since the more often you do it the less effective it becomes.
Schnur joked that his guys “like their hair” and that they wouldn’t want to shave their heads for first meet of the year as Columbia’s haircuts were “kinda funny looking.”