With just four short years of collegiate eligibility, the freshmen of Penn women’s swimming are making their mark on the program early and often.
After taking first place last weekend at the Kenyon Invitational, the women will face Columbia at Sheerr Pool this Friday at 4 p.m.
Penn (2-1, 1-1 Ivy) and especially its rookies will look to replicate their dominating performance against the Lions (1-2, 0-2).
Inspired performances from many of the team’s freshmen have been a major factor in the Quakers’ success thus far.
At Kenyon, freshman Shelby Fortin won both the 500-yard freestyle and 200 backstroke. Fellow first years Kristi Edleson and Katherine Ashenfelter took second in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 back, respectively. And the freshmen have done it all while still acclimating themselves to the world of collegiate swimming.
Going from high-school swimming to the collegiate level can be somewhat of a shock for many athletes, according to coach Mike Schnur.
“They grew up on club teams where they’re always the best kid, or at least one of the top couple of kids,” he said. “Here, they’re all the best kids.”
“At home, it was like I was the big fish, and coming here, having competition is a little different,” Fortin said. “It makes me train harder.”
This newfound parity seems to have had a positive influence on the freshman women, as they fared well in the first four meets of the season.
For Fortin, the close ties with her fellow Quakers helped ease the transition.
“Now it’s a lot more team-oriented than it used to be,” she said. “At home, I was usually kind of in the corner doing my own thing, swimming for myself, and now I find myself wanting to swim more for the team.”
After its success at Kenyon, the Quakers may find themselves hard-pressed for a victory Friday against Columbia. As the dual meet falls so soon after a major invitational, the Red and Blue are swimming tired.
“Last year, we swam Columbia right after Kenyon and we were god-awful,” Schnur said. “And hopefully they can step up and not be quite as beat up.”
The Quakers must fight that drain if they hope to be successful on Friday.
The Red and Blue will have some help tomorrow. Columbia has lost both its Ivy meets against Yale and Harvard — and the Lions too are swimming on short rest after a Saturday dual with Wagner.
So the Quakers will look to their freshmen and hope for fresh legs as they try to build on a strong start to the year.