At the beginning of the season, it would have been easy to write off this year’s men’s swimming team.
Winless after their first four meets, the Quakers seemed to be in trouble. But after finishing first out of six teams at the Kenyon Invitational on Dec. 4, the team has won four out of its last five meets and is on the rebound as the season rolls on.
After facing four straight Ivy foes, Penn (4-5, 3-4 Ivy), will face off against West Chester at home today at 5 p.m., in its second-to-last dual meet of the season.
Despite their slow start, the Quakers are looking to continue their new-year success against the Golden Rams (4-2). With a win, the Red and Blue will jump to a .500 record and remain confident going into the Ivy Championships, both of which seemed unlikely heading into winter break.
According to coach Mike Schnur, the turnaround is not so much a fundamental change, bur rather a team progression into better fitness.
“We weren’t in shape in the fall — there were a lot of guys who took the summer off and came back out of shape,” he said. “We’ve now had five months and a Christmas training break that got them in shape.”
Senior Mike Tompkins voiced a different opinion.
“I think it was really just mental,” he said. “Just getting back into racing, remembering what it felt like to race.”
No matter what caused the turnaround, the team hopes to continue the trend today in what will be their second and final home meet of the season.
For Schnur, being at home gives advantages beyond simply a friendly crowd.
“The guys will probably swim better this week than they did on the road,” he said. “Just because they’re sleeping in their own bed, they had their own workout in the morning, in our own pool.”
The importance of this meet is not lost on the swimmers, especially the seniors, for whom this will be the final home meet of their careers.
“It definitely makes it a lot more special,” Tomkins said. “I think a lot more people will be here, since we had a lot fewer meets at home this year, so hopefully it will be a lot more intense.”
Schnur hopes to put that intensity to good use.
“We’re going to go after a couple of pool records,” he said.