Is Schnur the answer for swimming? Penn men have been swimming in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League since 1936. Women have been swimming for the Red and Blue in the Ivy League since 1982. In their 81 seasons of combined competition, the Quakers have put together a grand total of eight winning league seasons, one regular season championship and one season-ending meet championship. It is time for a change. Penn swimming as we know it must cease to exist. This history of futility is far from being Mike Schnur's fault. For the last 15 years, Schnur has done nothing but bleed Red and Blue. He has given his all for Penn as a swimmer in the pool and as an assistant and interim head coach on the deck. He has been the ultimate company man. "I learned a lot of my coaching from [longtime Penn coach Kathy Lawlor-Gilbert]," Schnur said in February. "Sometimes when you hear it from a different person, it gets reinforced a little more. I think I'm telling the team a lot of the same things she did." Which is exactly the problem. As devoted as Schnur is to the Quakers and as likable as he is, his roots will always tie him back down to Lawlor-Gilbert and the long, arduous history of Penn swimming. Schnur will always be able to say, "When I was a swimmer here?" The new coach, whoever it is, must never be able to say that. The ghosts of the past that haunt Penn swimming need to be driven away. The Penn Athletic Department has had the wisdom to go about its recent coaching hirings with just this frame of mind. Andy Nelson's brand of women's soccer helped the Quakers to their first-ever NCAA Tournament berth this fall. Kelly Greenberg all but refused to talk about Penn women's basketball history on the way to coming within a few bounces of its first Ivy League title. And at Franklin Field tonight, Karin Brower has the Penn women's lacrosse team over .500 and shooting for its first three-game winning streak in years. While Schnur's two teams did show improvement this year, the Quakers are still far from being among the league's elite. Penn's women won their first two Ivy League meets since 1993, but they still finished dead last at the league championship meet. The men finished 4-5 in the league, but still have not finished above .500 in the EISL since 1991. Schnur does have an eye toward the future -- he said in March that five of the 10 early-decision recruits on the women's side swim regular times that are better than Penn school records. But how good is that? At the Ivy Championships a year ago, the Quakers set three school records, but still finished in last place at the meet. This year, Penn's women broke two, but the team again finished last. The Penn men set three school records this year but landed in ninth place as a team. To Schnur, though, this is not a big deal. "When you get to Ivy Championships, it's not about all 18 swimmers," Schnur said after this year's meet. "It's really about what your best five or six do." That's not the kind of talk you'll hear from Harvard men's coach Tim Murphy or Princeton women's coach Susan Teeter, both of whom were rightfully jubilant after winning their respective league championships this year. As pleasing as school records are, they do not translate into wins at Penn. They have not done so since 1936. It's time to bring someone to Sheerr Pool who can change that.Comments powered by Disqus
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