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Senior Brendan McHugh, along with sixteen of his teammates, will begin a period of intense training before drastically cutting back right before the Ivy Championships.

Credit: Michael Chien , Michael Chien

At the Ivy League Championships, it’s not about first place. It’s not even about second.

For the Penn swimming teams, third place ­at the Ivy League Championships — after Harvard and Princeton — is usually the goal.

And though the women are coming off of two straight Ivy losses to Yale and Dartmouth, coach Mike Schnur doesn’t believe the result will necessarily be the same at Ivies. In his mind, third place is still in the cards for his Red and Blue.

“I’d like to get Yale and Dartmouth back for what they did to us last weekend,” he said.

The Quakers also want a rematch against Columbia, who, according to Schnur, “stomped” them early in the year.

“They were much more prepared for that meet than we were,” he said. “We were truly horrific that day.”

Though the women’s team did not swim to its potential in all its Ivy meets, Schnur and the captains still see third place as a plausible option.

And while the women still have three non-conference meets until Ivy Champs, they are already looking ahead to the post-season.

They will need the upcoming tuneups, as the battle for a top-three finish in the Ivies will be very competitive this year. Yale, Columbia and Dartmouth — as the Quakers learned all too well this season — are as strong as ever.

Additionally, the upcoming meets serve as pseudo-championships for those who do not make the 17-swimmer roster limit.

“The girls who are preparing for Ivies are training really hard and the women that are not going are training for the next two or three weeks for the Maryland Invite [on February 9th and 10th],” Schnur said.

As the women’s Ivies do not begin until Feb. 23rd, many of the “backups” — who will not swim in the Ivy Championships ­— will get a chance to compete at Friday’s meet against West Chester.

But co-captain Jenny Claydon believes every individual is important for the team to be successful.

“Everyone is going to have to come down and perform their best times,” she said. “When it comes down to it, [the championships are] about swimming fast in the morning and making it back to the finals.”

Though she and fellow captain Samantha Husband believe most of the swimmers are fairly equal talent-wise, Claydon thinks it will ultimately come down to how prepared the team is for its competition.

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The men’s side is also searching for a third place finish at Ivies on Mar. 1-3.

“Our guys are swimming great this year,” Schnur said. “We have some pretty good meets left, but we are actually starting to split up those teams as well.”

There is not much of a disparity between those prepping for Ivies and those swimmers who are getting ready for the final three meets of the season.

“The seventeen Ivy guys are still getting their butts kicked right now and everybody else is going to start cutting back,” Schnur said.

The team knows that third place is certainly not a guarantee.

Similar to the women’s team, “The guys can get third, but they could also get sixth or seventh,” he said. “This is a very competitive league.”

Captain Brendan McHugh remained optimistic that Penn can come away with the bronze.

“We’re going to have to work out butts off, but if people come in with the right attitude, which I am trying to foster on the team, I think we will do something pretty cool … get third place [at Ivies].”

The biggest challenge for the men in the near future is the meet against perennial champion Harvard.

“We might be able to beat them,” McHugh said. “[In] the dual meet format you need to win races, you don’t need to have depth, and they are loaded with depth, but they don’t have a ton of speed.”

Both the men’s and women’s teams are sticking to their goal of third place at Ivies, but each swimmer still has individual goals.

“For us to win, I need to step up. I’m trying to break a lot more records,” McHugh said. “It would be cool to set new records … that I could come back when I’m sixty and see.”

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