The record boards at Sheerr pool will soon undergo some major renovation.
Breaking records may be the only way to guarantee the coveted third-place spot at the Ivy League Championships, which begin Thursday.
“Hopefully, when we finish [the season], you’re going to see a lot different names, a lot of new records,” coach Mike Schnur said. “Our record board is filled with really fast kids and some really fast records.”
The times are those of won races and highly ranked winners. James Fee, who has most of the distance swim records, finished second in the league in the 500 and 1000 freestyle in the 2009-10 season. Additionally, Steven Kuster, who holds the 100 fly record that was put up in 1993, was ninth in the NCAA that year.
“Breaking our records at Penn, if we don’t do that pretty much every relay in the next week, we didn’t swim well,” senior captain Brendan McHugh said. “Our relays are just, well, I don’t think we’re ever going to ever be better than we are right now.”
All of the successful Ivy League teams have continued to get faster.
“The team is getting a lot faster than it was even last year. It’s cool to be a part of that transformation,” McHugh said.
The speed needs to emerge this weekend in order to win races and stay on the path for third place. They must, in truth, beat their records.
“Right now, swimming in this conference and swimming over the country feels like it gets faster every day,” sophomore Rhoads Worster said. “If you’re not breaking records and you’re not [finishing with] times that have never been touched before, you’re not going to win.”
For Worster, though, what counts is what the records mean and the honor of having his name on the board.
“To get your name on the board is such an honor, to represent all the past swimmers,” he said. “Especially with the team now, when records are going left and right. It’s a really exciting time.”
His competitive winning spirit doesn’t come from just the pure search to break records, but rather the fun of racing.
“To go after records themselves is just a lot of fun,” he said. “I always joke that I don’t think about times, I just like to race people.”
Outside of individual goals, a major focus for this Penn team is the relays.
“I really want to win a relay,” McHugh said. “To win a relay, it would just be like, ‘Yeah, we have the four best guys in the league.’”
This is something McHugh thinks is very plausible for the 400 medley relay. For the team to establish a new mark, it would require their fastest time yet, breaking the current record from 2011 of 3:15:23.
Outside of this relay, with the current roster, “you could see almost every record being broken at the Ivy League Championships,” McHugh said. “If everyone does what I think they can do, almost every record could be broken.”
While Worster wants “to get those seniors out on a high note” by putting “the senior captains on the podium and getting a trophy,” which the top three teams receive, he still recognizes the advantages of getting his name up on the record board.
“You want people to know how hard you trained and how hard you worked. It’s a tangible thing to look at, and it gives you a goal to break for the next time,” he said. “We expect some new names up on the board after this Ivy championship.”
Although McHugh’s focus is also on Olympic trials, and his goal to win a national championship for Penn at NCAAs, he still wants to do “something special” individually, and with the team, at his last Ivy League Championships.
“I think the [record board] is going to get annihilated.”