The Quakers had their best first day at the Ivy Championships in a very long time yesterday. The past four months have been extremely encouraging for the Penn women's swimming team. Under interim coach Mike Schnur, the Quakers finished the regular season at .500 overall, and were able to notch victories over Cornell and Dartmouth after failing to win a single Ivy League meet in the past seven years. Now, Penn has a chance to put a cherry on top of their season's hot-fudge sundae as it competes at the Ivy League Championships at Harvard this weekend. The meet commenced yesterday morning and will continue until tomorrow evening. Yesterday, preliminaries and finals were held for six events -- the 200-yard freestyle relay, the 500 free, the 200 individual medley, the 50 free, the one-meter diving event and the 400 medley relay. The preliminaries and finals will be held for the remaining 14 events today and tomorrow. After the first day of swimming, Princeton leads the meet with a score of 256 points, while defending champion Brown holds second place with 214 points. The Quakers slept soundly last night with the knowledge that they had tallied 61 points yesterday, a score good enough to keep them ahead of the Big Red and the Big Green -- the two Ivy teams they beat this season -- and in sixth place. Cornell trails Penn by a scant five points, while Dartmouth is mired in last with 46. Harvard, Yale and Columbia round out the field, occupying the third, fourth and fifth spots, respectively. Penn, which finished dead last at the 1999 Ivy championships, received encouraging performances from freshman Jessie Anders in the 50 free prelims and junior captain Cathy Holland in the 200 individual medley bonus consolation heat. Anders' 24.20 sixth-place finish was good enough for a spot in the 50 free finals -- the Quakers' first finals appearance since 1997 in any individual event -- and a new school record. Her time broke the previous 10-year old record of 24.22. Anders finished eighth in the 50 free finals with a time of 24.53, good for 11 points. Holland's 2:07.97 in the 200 IM bonus heat broke the school record of 2:09, set in 1984. Prior to yesterday, it was the Penn women's swimming team's longest-standing record. And even though Holland's phenomenal performance was overshadowed by the other swimmers in the 200 IM -- she finished 17th, garnering no points -- Schnur is thrilled with the team's performance. "It's great. It's the best first day [of the Ivy championships] we've ever had," Schnur said. "We have a lot more points than we had at this point last year, or any years, even the last five or six. If [Anders] wasn't in finals, we wouldn't be in sixth place." By far the most eye-popping performance of the day came from Columbia senior and probable 2000 U.S. Olympian Christina Teuscher, who swam the 200 IM in an unbelievable 1:58.87 -- a time which gave her the victory over Brown senior Stephanie Hughes by a little over three seconds. Teuscher, whom Schnur once referred to as the "Michael Jordan of the Ivy League," missed breaking the Ivy Championships 200 IM record -- which she set last year -- by a little over a second. Columbia's lack of depth beyond Teuscher -- the Lions had only four other swimmers win points in individual events -- continues to keep Columbia from the upper echelons of the tournament. The Lions are only 45 points ahead of the Quakers. But it would take a near-miracle for Penn to overtake Columbia, considering the 189-109 shellacking the Quakers took at the hands of the Lions December 10 -- not to mention the fact that Columbia has Teuscher, giving it a near-automatic first-place finish each time she swims. Thus, being able to look down at Cornell or Dartmouth -- or both -- come tomorrow night would seem to be a more realistic goal. But Penn was beaten soundly on the diving board yesterday and must overcome those points lost to have any chance of not finishing last. Penn does have in its favor its swimming strength, and with no diving events scheduled for today, the Quakers hope to open up some distance between them and their pursuers. Schnur thinks that Holland and freshman Margaret Jones will score points today in the 400 IM, and he hopes the same of sophomore Devin McGlynn and freshman Katy Sanderson in the 200 IM. Schnur is also heartened by the fact that the Quakers are in sixth place without yet putting in the pool one of their best young swimmers, freshman Kate Patrizzi, who will swim today in the 100 butterfly and the 100 breaststroke. "We've finished last eight years in a row, and to get out of that basement would be great," Schnur said.Comments powered by Disqus
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