No margin for error at Ivy Championships
Quakers must swim career bests to hang with league titans Harvard and Princeton
February 24, 2011, 2:17 am · Updated February 24, 2011, 12:00 am·
Over the last two years, junior Laura Klick has set three program records for Penn in breaststroke and in the individual medley.
Last season, senior Naomi Delphin broke two individual records in freestyle and butterfly and was part of a record breaking 800-yard free relay team.
But this year, Penn’s goal of third place at the Ivy League Championships this weekend in Princeton, N.J., will only be possible if every single participant swims and dives better than she ever has, coach Mike Schnur said.
After fourth-place finishes at the Ivy Championships the past two seasons, the team is looking to secure its spot in the top three.
“We’re going to have to swim and dive above our capability levels,” Schnur said.
And while the coach wants his team to succeed, he said he has no expectations for the meet. He added that the great thing about swimming is that there is “no defense” — the strategy is always just to swim as fast as possible
Penn will get a boost by competing at Princeton’s DeNunzio Pool, the best pool in the league and the East Coast’s finest, according to Schnur. The Quakers have always swum fast at DeNunzio, splitting dual meets there in 2008 and 2009 and placing 4th in the Ivy Championships there last year.
Penn’s 3-4 Ivy record this season has little effect on their championship chances, Schnur said.
“Hopefully, the girls will be angry that we lost to Brown and take that out [at championships],” he said. “But in reality, dual meets don’t really translate to championships very much. The only thing you can take out of dual meets at the time is to change how you’re training.”
While it was an intense year for training, the championship swimmers have been preparing for the final tournament with the annual taper, in which the swimmers cut their training to just a third of their usual regimen. Schnur said this rest has allowed the women to swim faster than they have all year.
If the team wants that elusive top-three finish — behind league powerhouses Princeton and Harvard — Schnur knows his top swimmers must step up.
“We’re going to need some really good swims out of our best kids,” he said, mentioning Delphin, Klick and freshman phenom Shelby Fortin. “That crew is really going to have to swim lights out.”
Though they can only control their own times, Penn’s swimmers and the rest of the league will be gunning for the aptly named Megan Waters. The Princeton senior has posted the top Ancient Eight times in the 50 and 100 free, and holds the second-best time in the 100 fly. She is also the reigning champion from last year in the 100 free.
The Quakers have waited all season for Ivy Champs, the “most fun weekend of the year,” according to Schnur.
Only time will tell, however, whether the fun will include a top-three finish or another year left off the podium.