Amidst treacherous weather and hostile territory, the Penn women's swimming obliterated a nine-year futility streak this past weekend at the Ivy League Championships. The Quakers, who had placed dead last the past nine years, jumped from the back of the pack to finish in sixth place with 258.50 points.The squad was also just a few points shy of overtaking Columbia for fifth position. The Red and Blue improved drastically from their dismal past performances, both as a team and individually. The squad broke five individual school records and four relay team records at the three-day meet. "It was a long, arduous road to get there," Penn coach Mike Schnur said. "This meet was just a testament to how hard we have worked this season and how far we've come." So what exactly has changed from the past nine seasons that made this team perform so much better? It can be described by just one word -- talent. With the help of one of the best recruiting classes in Penn history and a commitment to dedication, the Quakers were able to go further against tough Ivy League opponents. All the women that placed within the top eight in individual events were freshmen. "We've had a whole new attitude this year," Penn junior tri-captain April Fletcher said. "With the help of our freshman class, we have really stepped up and swam well this entire season." The Quakers set the tone for a successful meet right away. "The 200 free relay came out on Thursday and killed the school record," Schnur said. "It was just a great first session that set an amazing tone for the rest of the meet." The Red and Blue followed their stellar performance in the 200 free relay with three more records, posting record times in the 200 medley, the 400 medley and the 400 free relays throughout the weekend. In the second event of the meet, the women's 500-yard freestyle, Penn freshman Kathleen Holthaus posted a new school record. Penn junior tri-captain Devin McGlynn set a new record in the 200-yard freestyle, and sophomore teammate Kate Patrizzi came away with the record in the 200 butterfly. Fellow freshman Linda Fescoe broke the school record in the 50-yard freestyle, placing sixth overall and making the Senior National Cut for the U.S. Swim League. She will therefore be invited to the National Championships this summer. The biggest wins for the Quakers came in the 100 breaststroke. Freshman Jennifer Block placed third in school record time, followed closely by freshman teammate Ashley Rader. Senior Patty Walshaw and Patrizzi also aided the Penn breaststroke effort in the consolation heat. "The 100 breaststroke was the best event of the whole meet," Schnur said. "It was a lot of fun to watch because our freshmen were scared to death on the blocks. Their finishes really bode well for the future." To add to the list of honors for the Penn swimmers, Schnur was named the Ivy League Coach of the Year. "We were all just so happy about it and really proud," Fletcher said. "It was just another breakthrough for our team that has had so many this year. [Schnur] was completely deserving of it." Schnur was a bit more humble about the award. "The only reason I won coach of the year is because of how they swam," Schnur said. This past weekend just proved how optimistic the Quakers should be about the future. "Other teams are scared of us now," Fletcher said. "We're all really, really psyched for next year."Comments powered by Disqus
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