Penn swimming already lost one potential foe when Brown’s men’s team was suspended from this weekend’s Ivy League tri-meet due to the discovery of a hazing scandal. Unfortunately, the Quakers lost a lot more than that.
With the Penn men facing only Harvard while the women took on both Harvard and Brown, both Red and Blue squads struggled in their final Ivy League meet of the regular season. The Quakers’ men fell to Harvard, 181-108, while the women fell respectively to Brown and Harvard by scores of 178-119 and 197-100.
For the Penn men, falling to the defending Ivy League champion, Harvard (5-0, 4-0 Ivy), was no surprise by any means. Prior to the meet, coach Mike Schnur admitted that once the Quakers knew that Brown wouldn’t be competing, they’d adjust their focus to experimenting swimmers in different events rather than sending out their usual lineup to maximize their dual meet points.
And as such, though the Quakers (4-4, 2-4) didn’t pull out the team win, there were some positives for Penn on the afternoon. Penn's standout on the day was freshman Sean Lee, who was the only Quaker to win an individual event, clocking 1:49.02 in the 200-meter butterfly to blow out the entire field by more than two seconds.
Beyond providing the team’s sole individual victory, Lee was the first leg of Penn’s victorious 4x100 freestyle relay team, in addition to coming in third place — best among Quakers — in the 100 fly. Another strong performance came from junior Thomas Dillinger, who finished second in the 100 breaststroke (in 56.64 seconds) and third in the 200 backstroke (1:50.42).
However, while the men’s result was relatively expected, Penn’s women (4-5, 3-4) had to be stunned by their outcome on Saturday. While Harvard (4-0, 4-0) has won three of the past six Ivy titles and looks to be the favorite for another this year, the Bears (3-3, 2-3) hadn’t beaten the Quakers since the 2012-13 season before this weekend’s surprisingly comfortable upset.
Senior superstar and two-time Ivy League champion in the 500 free, Virginia Burns, did her best to keep the Red and Blue alive, winning her signature event with a time of 4:48.50. Other highlights for Penn included sophomore Serena Xue winning a thriller in the 200 breast by only .03 seconds and junior Nancy Hu matching Lee by winning her own title in the women’s 200 fly.
But all in all, the 0-2 result from the weekend has to be considered a disappointment for Penn, which is in danger of finishing without a winning season in dual meets for the first time in four years. Both the men and women have a pair of dual meets remaining, taking on Army and West Chester in the next two weeks.
From there, both teams get three weeks off before the Ivy League Championships, where Penn had major success a season ago. The 2017 Penn men for their highest finish in more than 40 years, while the women to tie their best finish in school history.
After Saturday’s results, it remains up in the air if the Red and Blue can replicate those performances this time around. For better or worse, both teams might be slept on after finishing the regular season in the bottom half of the Ivy League standings — and now, the clock is ticking for Penn to make any potential naysayers pay for it.