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Penn senior Patty Walshaw will help to lead the women's swimming team at the Ivy Championships in Princeton this weekend. The Quakers hope to improve upon last year's last-place finish in the meet. (Will Burhop/DP File Photo)

After months of grueling training, early-morning workouts and tough mental preparation, it's time for the Penn women's swimming team to reap the benefits of its hard work and dedication. Tomorrow marks the beginning of the annual three-day Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, which will be held at Princeton. The Quakers left Philadelphia yesterday afternoon, headed to rival territory to show just how far they've come this year. The Red and Blue have finished dead last at the Ivy Championships the past nine seasons and are more than ready to break that streak this time around. Penn was a mere one point shy of overtaking Dartmouth last year for seventh place, but the story should be a little different this season. The Quakers have already proved to the rest of the Ivy League that they are a drastically-better team. They finished the season 3-4 in the Ancient Eight, with victories over Cornell, Harvard and Dartmouth. Last year, the Quakers barely edged out Cornell and Dartmouth, but this year Penn dominated both meets. The squad also performed unexpectedly well against Yale and Princeton during the regular season. Penn gave the Elis and Tigers a scare before ultimately losing. The Quakers have spent the past two weeks preparing for the big event. Penn coach Mike Schnur tapered workouts, forcing his athletes to mentally and physically focus on the upcoming meet. The Penn women are looking to post their fastest times this weekend -- the first time since last fall that they are completely rested and shaved. In order to move up in the Ivy standings and beat a few teams this year, both the Quakers veterans and newcomers must be ready to perform. Due to the fact that Penn is a very young squad, the Quakers will rely heavily on the performance of their freshmen. Freshman Linda Fescoe, who holds a school record in the 50-yard freestyle, will look to place well in the 50 free and 100 free --her key events. Freshman teammate Kathy Holthaus will be a an important factor for Penn in the distance events, especially the 500 and 1,000 free. The Penn team, however, is not reliant on its freshmen alone. Senior tri-captain Cathy Holland will play an integral role in the outcome of this weekend's events. A school record-holder in three events -- the 200 IM, 400 IM and 200 breaststroke -- Holland will be a crucial leader in and out of the pool. After a season of hard work and dedication, the Quakers are ready to prove to the rest of the league that they can finally compete in the championships. Although the Red and Blue aren't looking to miraculously win the meet, they are looking to show what their season has been all about -- improvement.

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