Penn men's swimming coach Mike Schnur is taking the long view when it comes to his team's success in the 2000-01 season. Having graduated four of last year's five top point-scorers, and with 11 freshman recruits, the Penn squad depends heavily on the talent of its underclassmen. According to Schnur, the younger swimmers may need more training to realize their potential, as well as a chance to adjust to collegiate level swimming. All of this is going to take time. "It's difficult to fill the role of a senior," Schnur said, "but the younger guys in the squad will step up in different places to fill the void. They will replace by committee." As Schnur noted, it's difficult for an 18-year-old to be as fast as a 21-year-old. Relying on freshmen and sophomores means exploiting their strengths in certain events, rather than counting on a few swimmers to earn points across the board. A shortage of upperclassmen on the Penn team, however, is made up for by talent across the board. Returning is senior Kenneth Goh, who won the sprint breaststroke championship last year in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League, a conference that includes all eight Ivies, as well as Army and Navy. Goh also set the Penn varsity record for the 100-yard breaststroke in 2000. Also returning is sophomore Spencer Driscoll, who was both an EISL finalist and an Olympic trials qualifier in the 200 butterfly. Though Driscoll is only in his second collegiate season, he is already one of the league's top swimmers. Another key sophomore is Chris Miller. According to Schnur, Miller is both bigger and stronger this season and is expected to win the 200 breast every week. The pressure also falls on the squad's captains, seniors Brian Barone and Kevin Treco and junior Ian Bowman. This trio has the task of not only earning points but also providing the leadership lost with last year's seniors. According to Schnur, all three have excellent work ethics and will lead by example. Role models will be invaluable to the team this season, not only because of the depth of the freshman class, but also because Penn faces a schedule that includes only five home meets altogether, and only one at home this semester. Bowman is optimistic about the Quakers' tough schedule. "The away meets will toughen up both the freshmen and everyone else for second semester," he said. "It's hard to swim on the road as a first meet, but we have put in the work to swim fast, and we should come through." If anything, the superior talent of this year's recruits should put them in good stead for a season that will feature more than its share of tough away meets. Freshman Andrew Trout was a senior national qualifier and a New Jersey state champion as a sprinter last year. Schnur also expects newcomers Eric Hirschhorn and Shaun Lehrer to carry the mid-distance events for the Quakers. "Within the next two years, these freshmen, with some training behind them, will put Penn in the top five in the league," Schnur said. Another key recruit is junior Rus Zuckerman, a transfer from the University of Wisconsin who has seen Big 10 competition and, according to Schnur, is ready for EISL competition. Apart from two frontrunners, rankings in the league are by no means set in stone. "Harvard and Princeton are at a whole other level," Schnur said. "As for the third- through 10th-place teams, there is not much difference between them. One or two key recruits can completely change the balance of power." The Quakers face Cornell and Princeton in Ithaca, N.Y., this Saturday. The Tigers are clear favorites in the meet, but Penn has a chance to challenge the Big Red. Penn beat Cornell in the same meet last year, but since then the Big Red have only graduated one senior, compared to Penn's four, and the Quakers haven't beaten Cornell in Ithaca in 10 years. Another obstacle for the Quakers this weekend is illness. "We are the sickest team in America right now," Schnur said. "Four or five freshmen have the flu. They'll have to swim on toughness." Bowman, however, doesn't see any potential impediment. "We're fired up and ready to kick some ass this weekend," he said. "Sick or not."Comments powered by Disqus
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