Penn men’s swimming and diving got off to a speedy start at Ivy League Championships over the weekend, scoring 1,335 points to take second to host Harvard. On top of that, the finish was the program’s highest since 1971, the last year that the Quakers took home an Ivy title.
While Harvard took home first place for their 24th overall Ivy League championship behind the record-setting efforts of star freshman Dean Farris, Penn’s second place finish set the all-time program record for total points in the history of championship meets. In addition to setting records for points, the Red and Blue swimmers broke team records in the 200 and 400-yard medley relays, 800-yard freestyle relay, 200 and 400-yard individual medleys, 100-yard butterfly and 200-yard butterfly.
Coach Mike Schnur was extremely pleased with his athletes’ performances this weekend, and thought they exceeded expectations in individual swims and as a team.
“It was great to see the guys come together and finish that high. The challenge was to keep the guys motivated all year, but that second place finish is what we were destined for because we were the second best team. We saw the guys do what we set out to do from day one,” Schnur said.
Very proud with his team’s performances and the outcome of the Ivy League championship meet in its entirety, Schnur felt his team was successful because of its hard work and determination throughout the season.
“We have a lot of talent and a lot of depth. Columbia and Yale’s top guys are every bit as good as ours. It’s our number 13 through 17 men that are far superior to what Columbia and Yale have,” Schnur added.
The second place result does come with an asterisk, however. Princeton men’s swim team, who finished second to Harvard at Ivies in 2016, was absent from the 2017 championship meet after being suspended for an incident with inappropriate GroupMe messages. While the Quakers defeated the Tigers at their regular season dual meet in November, it is impossible to say how Princeton’s presence would have affected the outcome at this year’s championship meet.
Heading into the weekend, Penn was focused only on the six other teams competing. Schnur relied on the nine seniors on the Ivy squad of 20 swimmers to guide the team to success.
“Our senior class is very good and experienced. They knew how to handle Ivies. We had a lot of great performances from that class,” Schnur continued. “Michael Wen had an awesome meet, and so did Kevin Su and Grant Proctor in the senior class producing eight A finals. Having the seniors perform well in this meet was just great.”
A highlight of day three, Wen broke the Quakers’ oldest record in prelims of the 200 fly, swimming a 1:46.07 to lower the mark set by Steve Kuster in 1993. Fellow senior and butterflier Jimmy Jameson swam in equally impressive fashion, setting a new record in the sprint distance in a time of 46.95.
The Red and Blue have some of the best underclassmen in the country, such as Mark Andrew and Thomas Dillinger, who finished first and second, respectively, in each of the individual medley races. Andrew set new program records for Penn of 1:44.75 in the 200 IM and 3:43.28 in the 400 IM, both NCAA B qualifying standards. The sophomore’s time in the latter event is currently ranked 15th in the nation and should receive an invitation to the big dance at the end of March.
With the results of this meet, Coach Schnur is excited to see what the team is truly capable of and what it will be capable of in years to come.
“Mark Andrew stepped up as a sophomore after being sick during Ivies last season. He made two A finals and was just awesome. He had a great meet and we’re excited to see what he does in the next two years. He is the kind of guy that will help lead our programs future,” Schnur said.
Morale is high and the Red and Blue now know its capabilities as a squad on an individual and team level. With the ability to have every class contribute to a huge success shows a bright future this team and the legacy of the program.
“Going forward we have to just keep doing what we’re doing. We have one guy going to NCAAs, and we are looking to get to the point where we have three, four, or five guys going to the NCAAs. This is the third year in a row we will be a top-25 team in the country, and that is important to maintain for next season,” Schnur added.
With the season coming to a successful finish, it is this lasting legacy that the squad will have to maintain as they look ahead to future seasons.