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The Quakers recorded five event wins against Dartmouth and Yale, highlighted by a standout performance by sophomore Rochelle Dong.

With a trip to Sunshine State for anything but a vacation in the rear view for Penn swimming, will the training be worth it?

The winter holidays were short-lived for the Quakers, who on Dec. 27 flew to Florida for their annual training trip. Regarded as one of the most pivotal activities in any collegiate swimming program, the training trip fostered the camaraderie of the swimmers heading into the back half of the season. While a brutal combination of laps and dry land workouts is the focus of the trip, coach Mike Schnur hoped that it would give the team momentum entering 2015.

Schnur’s squads put their training regimens to the test soon after arriving back in Philadelphia. Penn drove to Hanover for a January 10 tri-meet against Dartmouth and Yale. Both Penn teams exited with similar results, beating the Big Green yet losing to the Elis.

While the men (2-4, 1-4 Ivy) narrowly beat Dartmouth 169-130 for their first Ivy victory of the season, they were dominated by Yale in a lopsided 82-217 contest. Only one Quakers swimmer chalked a victory over the two Ivy rivals: junior freestyler Eric Schultz in the 50 meter freestyle.

On far more occasions, the Yale squad proved to be a stumbling block. Penn’s diving unit continued its struggles, as Jack Stein placed fifth in the one meter and sixth in the three meter. Even distance swimmer Chris Swanson, usually able to win races for the Quakers, fell to Yale in both his events, as Bulldogs freshman Kei Hyogo stole the junior’s spotlight.

The women’s team (3-3, 2-3 Ivy) also fell to Yale, but their victory was far more convincing over the hosts, notching 216 points over Dartmouth’s 84. The Quakers recorded five event wins, highlighted by standout performances by sophomore Rochelle Dong — typically a name atop the leaderboard — and freshman Virginia Burns, who rocked the 100 and 200 meter freestyle events.

The performance by women’s diving did not answer many questions about the unit’s performance moving forward, as inconsistency prevented the group from scoring too many points. It was a tale of two Cassidy Goldens, for the sophomore shone with a second-place finish in the three meter then dulled with a last-place performance in the one Meter.

The team’s focus the entire season has been on the all-important Ivy League Championships, yet for each team, five meets remain before the biggest of the year. Before the Red and Blue return home for their second and final meet in Sheerr Pool of the season, they close the Ivy regular season in Providence against Brown and Harvard, both of whom found success in 2014. Like Yale, Harvard has not lost a single meet in Ivy play in either the men’s or women’s leagues.

Yet, strong showings against its final opponents may put the Quakers in position to finish highly in the Ivy League. Everything from preseason play to the training trip will contribute to how conditioned and prepared the Quakers are at the Ivy Championships and, potentially, beyond.

After all, what is important is not 2014, but 2015.

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