In basketball, a coach will say he wants his best player to have the ball when the game is on the line. For Penn men’s swimming coach Mike Schnur, that equivalent player — or in this case, swimmer — is sophomore Rhoads Worster.

Even with only one full year of collegiate experience under Worster’s belt, Schnur says, “If a meet comes down to one event, I want Worster there.”

“It feels like Worster’s been swimming here for 10 years,” Schnur added. “He’s such a veteran.”

The veteran presence will be important on a team that is going to rely on its freshman class. This past Sunday’s meet against Connecticut brought the emergence of two freshmen, Sam Ruddy and Konner Scott. The pair finished first and second in the 200-yard freestyle.

As for the Quakers’ “big-game swimmer,” Worster won the 200 butterfly in the UConn meet by two seconds, in 1:54:10.

Working with a young team is “fun because these guys all come from different backgrounds, and they are starting to mold into a team,” Schnur said. “Plus, they’re talented and they work hard.”

Hard work may be an understatement. During the offseason, Worster says he did “crossfit training,” which places an emphasis on dry-land workouts. The Philadelphia native also swam in a meet against “top-notch swimmers” over the summer in hopes he’d be in the “best possible shape for this season.”

Schnur says of the butterfly standout that he “trained great all summer and is now not far off the U.S. Olympic trial cuts.” That might be a good reason to put Worster on the starting block when the team needs him most.

The Red and Blue have a crucial home tri-meet against Ivy rivals Cornell and Princeton this

“We stack up very competitively with Cornell. Princeton was the Ivy champ last year and has only improved this year,” Schnur said.

“They, too, have a competitive freshman class,” Schnur said of the Tigers.

Regardless of competition over the weekend, Schnur said, “It’s no different than any other week. We just have more people to compete with.”

“Both Cornell and Princeton have good guys in my events [butterfly], but I’m excited,” Worster added.

“It will be entertaining,” Schnur promised of this weekend’s meet.
When you have Worster stepping up on the block in crunch time, it’s hard not to be entertained.

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