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Spencer Driscoll is back for his sophomore season with the Quakers. His strongest stroke is the butterfly, but he excelled in the season opener in many events. (Will Burhop/DP File Photo)

The Penn men's swimming team shot out of the starting gate at its season opener this weekend against two of its biggest rivals, Princeton and Cornell. The Quakers beat Cornell 145-96, a significantly larger margin than last year when they won 277 to 245.5 in a dual meet. The Tigers were well ahead of both Penn and Cornell, having been the accepted favorite going into the meet. Princeton and Harvard perennially dominate the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League. According to Penn coach Mike Schnur, it was the Quakers' goal to race hard against Princeton, but the real aim for the weekend was to prove its talent against the Big Red. Penn did just that without flinching, despite pressure on the freshmen and sophomores who make up the bulk of the squad. "Our young guys really stepped up," Schnur said. "The freshmen had to show they weren't intimidated under the pressure of having to prove their talent." Schnur credits his captains with setting the tone of not being intimidated by tough competition. Seniors Kevin Treco and Brian Barone provided the leadership the team needed at its first away meet, earning key points for the Red and Blue. Treco came in first against Cornell in the 50-yard freestyle, and contributed to the Quakers' first-place finish in the 400 freestyle relay. Barone swam in three events, the 500 freestyle, the 200 butterfly, and the 200 freestyle. He came in fourth, second and second, respectively, against the Big Red. "Brian Barone put more than 100 percent into all three of his events," said senior Kenneth Goh, who helped the Quakers beat Cornell in the 400 medley relay. "It was swims like his that inspired me and the team." It was the team's freshmen and sophomores, however, that proved themselves to be powerhouses in Ithaca, N.Y. Sophomore Spencer Driscoll, already one of the EISL's best swimmers in only his second year, earned second place in the 200 IM and first in the 200 butterfly, his strongest race. "Spencer was his usual great self," Schnur said. A pivotal freshman performance came from Shaun Lehrer, who was under pressure to carry the 200 freestyle and eventually captured the points for the Quakers without much challenge from Cornell's swimmers. Lehrer also came in second in the 500 freestyle, backed up by both Barone, who took third, and junior captain Ian Bowman, who came in fifth. Another key freshman for Penn on Saturday against the Big Red was Eric Hirschhorn, who won the 200 IM and contributed to both of Penn's victories in the 400 freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay. The Quakers' sweep of the medley -- their first and second relay teams both beating Cornell's first relay team -- started the meet off on the right note for the Red and Blue. Schnur saw that his squad's success in the first event gave the team the momentum it needed to swim with intensity across the board, and prove the depth of its talent. The Quakers could not have hoped to start the season any better. The meet revealed Penn's strengths and weaknesses, according to Schnur, and put the team's new training regimen to the test. The sprinters have focused more heavily on weight lifting and dry-land training this year, as well as more sprinting in the pool. Treco attributes part of the team's success to the new routine. In two weeks, Bucknell will give the Quakers an opportunity to train and compete at the same time. At Bucknell's two-day invitational, Penn will swim in every event.

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