Fourth place isn’t good enough for this year’s men’s and women’s swim teams.
After both squads took fourth at last season’s Ivy League Championships, the coaches and swimmers have made changes in the offseason that they hope will lead to a higher finish this year.
“We were fourth last year, and we deserved fourth,” coach Mike Schnur said. “It’s where we should have been, but we didn’t swim to our capability levels, and this year I think we’ll address that.”
Schnur and women’s co-captain Carey Stauder stressed that an intensified workout regimen the team began this fall has improved the swimmers’ strength and conditioning in preparation for the season.
“We’ve trained far better this fall than we did last year,” Schnur said. “The difference between most of our kids between now and 12 months ago is night and day.”
She said that October was an extremely hard month of training and that both sides feel ready for their first meets this weekend.
The women’s team, who finished last season with a 5-4 record and 3-4 in the conference, is entering this year without the so-called “Penn Ten” — the strong senior class that graduated last spring.
“We really rode the coattails of the ‘Penn Ten’ for quite a long time,” Schnur said. “Without them, it’s given opportunities to a lot of people to step up and assert their dominance.”
This season, according to Stauder, the squad’s talent is now spread out among all the classes.
The senior expects the upperclassmen to step up and use their experience to integrate the freshman class, including Shelby Fortin, who Schnur called “the fastest freshman we’ve ever recruited.”
On the men’s side (6-3, 4-3 Ivy in 2009-10), last year’s season was the most successful since 2004-05, which helped bring in what Schnur described as a strong recruiting class.
“We always got to just make the inputs greater than the outputs on the swim team, and I feel like we did that this year,” junior Brendan McHugh said.
With a new recruiting class, however, comes inexperience.
Five of the highest point scorers for the men’s team graduated last spring, so the team is now focusing on the development of its younger swimmers.
“You don’t really build on last year’s success, you build on individual success,” Schnur said. “So the guys that were younger who swam fast last year hopefully will continue that improvement.”
The freshmen will come in handy when the Red and Blue face their Ivy foes this season.
“The men’s league is great,” Schnur said. “It’s one of the three or four fastest conferences in the country.”
Both men and women are looking to improve to third place at this year’s Ivy championships, the same goal they set last season.
This year, however, coaches and swimmers hope stronger team unity and commitment, and the team’s increased physical strength, will lead to a spot on the podium at the Ivy League Championships in February.