From high school to college, most rookies need a year to mature and adjust to a new level of competition. Freshman swimmer Alex Porter is an exception.
In a year when senior standout Brendan McHugh is making a habit of rewriting school records every week, Porter is quietly making waves of his own.
Only two months into his first season, the first-year standout is already swimming freestyle on both the 200-medley and the 400-free and 800-free relays. While all three relays include the team’s top swimmers, Porter has made his presence felt.
Last weekend, the Quakers traveled to Ohio for the Total Performance Invitational at Kenyon, where the 800-free relay — that includes McHugh, freshman Sam Ruddy, sophomore Rhoads Worster, and Porter — set a new Kenyon pool record of 6:39.90.
This mark was clear indication of a new chapter in Porter’s career. Coming out of high school, Porter was one of the most talented swimmers in the country, routinely hitting All-American times.
But when Porter saw how similar the Penn squad was to his high school team in that “we’re a tightly knit group of guys, we hang out all the time, and we eat dinner together every day,” he was convinced he wanted to be part of the Red and Blue.
It also didn’t hurt that at Penn, he found someone who could take him to the next level.
“Mike Schnur is such a great coach,” Porter said of the 12-year head man.
The respect between coach and swimmer is mutual. During the recruiting process, Schnur says he liked “everything” about Porter.
The recruit has paid immediate dividends and rewarded his coach’s faith. In the Quakers’ first meet of the season against Ivy rival Columbia, he anchored the team to a win in his first event — the 200-medley relay.
But to continue competing at such a high level, he can’t afford to let up.
“The training is definitely harder than it was in high school, but the freedom and less-structured days definitely help,” Porter said.
“Day in and day out, Porter works like a dog,” Schnur said.
“I wish I could coach 30 of him.”
While the performance over the weekend was promising, there is still much room for improvement, an opportunity Porter doesn’t take lightly.
“It’s an honor to be swimming in a relay and on a team with McHugh—the opportunity doesn’t come around too often.”
Now, the team is preparing for their annual post-Christmas trip to Florida where they will train outdoors before facing Brown and Florida Atlantic in a tri-meet on Jan. 4 in Boca Raton, Fl.
In addition to the 800-free relay, Porter and his teammates for the 400-free relay team will also look to break the school record of 3:00.57. Schnur believes the relay team should break three minutes by the end of the season.
Such a time would allow senior Brendan McHugh to post yet another plaque on the record board. However this time, Porter’s name would be right alongside him.