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After his team finished in the basement at the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming Championships last year, Penn men's swimming coach Mike Schnur was understandably disappointed. The Quakers were disqualified in the crucial 400-yard medley relay last year, a penalty which relegated them to last place at the meet. A false start and the bottom-of-the-barrel finish left a bad taste in the Quakers' mouths. Penn has a chance to wash the taste out today as the EISL Championships get underway at Princeton. "I think that we are going to finish in the six, seven, eight range," Schnur said of his team's chances in the 10-team field that includes Army and Navy as well as the eight Ivy League teams. The meet consists of preliminary heats that will be held in the morning, with the top 24 swimmers in each event advancing to one of three heats at night. The top eight swimmers from the morning heats will advance to the finals, the second eight will advance to a consolation final and the third eight will advance to a bonus final. "My expectations would be to beat the teams we beat in dual meets this year for sure," senior Matt Reilly said. Penn finished sixth in their EISL dual-meet season this year, with wins over Cornell, Columbia, Army and Dartmouth. It will be difficult for Penn to claim sixth at Princeton, however, since the meet is markedly different from dual meets. Easterns differs from the dual-meet season because it focuses more on individual swimmers than the overall team performance. Swimmers choose their fastest events to compete in at Easterns, as opposed to the dual-meet season where swimmers compete in events that may not be their fastest but that give the team the best shot at winning. The ultimate goal for swimmers at Easterns is to qualify for NCAA Championships. Although Penn's schedule lists NCAAs as the final meet, it is unlikely that any Quakers will be found in Minnesota on March 23 -- only two Penn swimmers have qualified for NCAAs in the last decade. Penn will need big performances from seniors Jon Maslow, Matt Reilly, Nick Sheremeta and Craig Nelson to enable the team to place highly this week. "Maslow is a former finalist. Reilly is a former finalist," Schnur said. "[The four seniors] are all very good, very experienced guys. This is their time to shine." Although only sophomore breaststroker Kenneth Goh made the final heat consisting of the top-eight swimmers last year, Penn is hoping that this season will see more Red and Blue suits in those crucial races. "If we get four or five guys in the top eight, that's great. I think besides Kenneth, Chris Miller can do it in breaststroke. Spencer Driscoll has a chance to make top eight in anything he swims," Schnur said. "Dave Hausladen has a shot in the 200 free. The seniors can all make top eight. Kevin Pope has a chance as a freshman in the 100 back." A large part of the Quakers' improvement in the dual-meet season this year can be attributed to the freshman class. Unfortunately for Penn, at Easterns it tends to be the upperclassmen who dominate the meet. "A lot of our high final guys are freshmen and sophomores, and that's something that's hard," Schnur said. The one area where Penn will compete as a team, and needs to do well, are the relay events. Schnur does not want a repeat of last year's relay false start. Relay events count for double the points of normal events. No matter how well the Quakers do this week, Penn will not be taking home the EISL title this year. Thus, the team's main focus is necessarily on scoring personal records with an eye toward building the team in future seasons. "Mostly, what I care about is the guys swimming faster than they have all year, swimming faster than they have in their lives," Schnur said. "We're looking for getting ourselves up for a good springboard for next year."

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