As the season winds down, there is only one hurdle left to clear for the Penn men's swimming team before the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League championships -- Harvard. On Saturday at 1 p.m., the Quakers will face the Crimson at Sheerr Pool in their last home meet of the 2001 regular season. The Harvard squad is currently 7-1 in the league and is ranked No. 22 in the country. It won the Eastern championships last year, and squashed the Red and Blue in their February meet, 227-54. At 7-3 for the 2001 season, Penn coach Mike Schnur expects to be 7-4 at the end of the day on Saturday. But Schnur is focusing on Easterns, not on Harvard. "My philosophy is, first semester is about dual meets, second semester is about championships," Schnur said. "We know going in what Harvard has done all year. This is a good opportunity to compete against great swimmers." Most of the Quakers share Schnur's relaxed attitude about this weekend's meet. Penn freshman Shaun Lehrer, a distance swimmer, is not apprehensive about the ferocity of the Crimson competition. "For us there is no pressure, because Harvard is [No.] 22 in the nation and we just don't have the same talent," Lehrer said. "They are under pressure not to lose." Penn senior Kevin Treco sees the meet as an opportunity for everyone on the team to focus on himself as an individual, instead of worrying about the team's performance. "It's a chance to get some seed times to get a better place at championships," Treco said. Lehrer, senior captain Brian Barone and sophomore Nate Pinney have all beaten personal best times either shaved or unshaved this season. They are ultimately looking for their hard work to pay off at Easterns. A loss against Harvard will not define the Red and Blue's season, although a win surely would. For the Quakers, the intensity of fighting to the end but losing to Brown in close 155-143 fashion or the feeling of satisfaction after beating Navy for the first time in 10 years are the moments that have made this season meaningful. How hard the Penn squad swims on Saturday will matter, however, to the record board on the wall at Sheerr Pool, and will stand as a testament to how hard the team has worked this season. The team is aware that there is a challenge to face this weekend. "Some of these records on the wall are old and some are ready to come down," Lehrer said. For Lehrer -- who beat his best shaved time in the 1,000-yard freestyle by seven seconds, unshaved, against Navy (9:33.62) -- facing the Crimson's talent is an opportunity to put his own name on the wall. So, besides showing Schnur where his swimmers are in terms of their tapers for the championships, the meet against Harvard this weekend has the potential to show the Quakers how far they've come. Their current record of 7-4 is one better than last year. At the rate the Penn squad is training and bringing in impressive recruits, an even better record is well within sight for 2002.Comments powered by Disqus
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