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Junior Virginia Burns wants Penn swimming & diving to show the Ivy League what it's capable of this year

Credit: Ananya Chandra , Ananya Chandra

They’re already Philly’s finest; now it’s time to take it nationwide.

Penn men’s and women’s swimming are on the road to Gambier, Ohio, this weekend to compete in the Total Performance Invitational at Kenyon College. Both teams are looking to swim their best and grow stronger and faster after each team topped local rival La Salle last Tuesday.

“I’m very happy with where both teams are,” Penn coach Mike Schnur said. “At 5-1, both teams having been competing great, and we have a lot of good things ahead of us.”

Both teams have strong dual meet records, with a few wins over very impressive opponents. After big wins against Ivy foes Princeton and Cornell, the men’s team is looking to keep up the momentum.

“We’ve had some very impressive and fast swims from key members of the team in recent meets. I think we’ll carry out the momentum right into TPI,” junior Taylor Uselis said.

“Everyone has worked hard and we have great depth,” Schnur added. “We have confidence in every one of these guys.”

On the women’s end, this weekend is looking promising for improvement and is a chance for some new faces to step up and compete for the Red and Blue.

“Everyone is feeling really great going into this weekend. There have been a few potential setbacks in these last few months that the team has really worked through, [but] this is the first chance that a lot of people have to perform, and everyone is really excited,” junior Virginia Burns said.

“Our team motto for the season is ‘close the gap,’” Burns added. “The past two years we’ve ended the season at fourth in the league, a decent amount ahead of fifth, but also a decent ways behind third. We really want to show the league what we can do, so our motivation is trying to catch up to those top three.”

Schnur is finding that the older girls have been great role models for the younger swimmers, which has vastly helped the team’s development from top to bottom.

“The older girls are showing [the younger girls] what do to, how to do it, and how to prepare properly every day,” he said.

This rapidly building chemistry will prove to be a key factor in the upcoming months, as the team prepares to take on strong opponents in increasingly important races.

“This meet is a good way of reminding us what we are doing and why we’re working for it,” Burns said. “We’re hoping to post some fast times, but we’re also keeping in mind that the end of the year is when it is most important to perform.”

Understandably, the men have similar goals.

“The goal going into any meet is to win, and TPI is no different,” Uselis said. “We don’t race any Ivy teams there and it is an opportunity for us to post lots of personal best times and show the rest of the league what we’re capable of.

“Our main goal for this meet is to get qualifications for NCAAs. Another goal is to see where everyone’s training is. If people are great at this meet, we know we are on the right track, but if they don’t do so great we have to adjust their training over the next five to six weeks.

For the Quakers, this meet will prove to not only be important for the win, but to also show the coaching staff as well as the athletes where their abilities lie at this point in the season.