After a tough weekend in Hanover, Penn swimming is regrouping for its last Ivy league tri-meet of the season in Providence — but the Quakers won't be facing the full range of their competition.
Brown men’s swimming will be suspended from the meet after the discovery of a team hazing scandal, leaving the Bears unable to compete this weekend and possibly for the rest of the season. Brown’s women’s team will be in attendance and will race Penn and Harvard.
Brown's indefinite suspension was first announced by Brown University on Dec. 20. The announcement stated that Brown had been investigating hazing allegations since Nov. 29 and that, "among actions taken, the men’s team will not participate in a swim meet scheduled for Jan. 13, 2018. The investigation will continue in the weeks ahead."
Since the Bears did not have any scheduled competitions between Dec. 20 and Jan. 13, this Saturday's meet will be the first of the season that the Bears' men will be unable to compete in. It remains unclear if they'll get another chance the rest of the way.
According to the Brown Daily Herald, the alleged night of hazing took place in October last year, and the actions performed by the men's team's upperclassmen included, but were not limited to: forced drinking, forced nudity, and a forced "skit night" by the team's freshmen at an off-campus location.
The Herald learned about these actions via an anonymous freshman on the team, who submitted emails, pictures, and audio recordings to the newspaper. Though his name is not given, no rookies have been removed from the online roster, meaning the freshman is likely still with the program.
However, that does not mean that there have been no repercussions from the scandal. Both of Brown's men's captains at the start of the 2017-18 season, seniors Talbot Jacobs and Riley Springman, have been kicked off the team.
Looking back to Penn, the Quakers haven't had much time to recover from a tiring trip to Dartmouth last weekend. With this in mind, the Red and Blue are looking for swims that will help guide them toward success in the Ivy League Championship meet, even if it doesn't lead to a winning outcome against the top-12 Crimson.
“The only thing they need to improve is competitiveness," coach Mike Schnur said. "We had some guys last weekend who didn’t compete at their best. They have to learn that they are at the tired portion of the season and in order to be successful, you have to know how to handle being tired and still focus on Ivies."
On the men’s side, the absence of the team from Brown will change the approach that the Quakers will take in deciding this weekend’s lineups. Penn (3-2, 1-2 Ivy) now has to handle the powerhouse that Harvard (4-0, 3-0) is on its own.
“With Brown being suspended, it changes our focus a lot. If Brown were there we would be doing more of our normal events,” Schnur said. “Now with Harvard we want to show some offense [by experimenting in different events] to see what guys can do at Ivies. It’s more of the approach of, 'let's give people opportunities to swim.'”
According to Schnur, the Penn women (3-2, 2-1) will be swimming with their usual meet lineup since both Harvard (2-0, 2-0) and Brown (2-2, 0-2) will be present, thus meaning the team has to make sure get enough points to beat Brown.
“League standings are determined at the Ivy League meet, so these dual meets are just for fun," Schnur added. "We use them for a rehearsal to find out what we are doing right and wrong and to compete."
Regardless, the Ivy League Championship is what both squads will work toward all season. Although the Dartmouth-Yale matchup, where both the men and women lost to the Bulldogs and beat the Big Green, wasn’t exactly what the team had hoped for, it will ultimately set Penn up for success later in the season.
“Some of the younger guys aren’t used to racing when they are tired,” explained junior Mark Andrew, discussing the struggles of traveling last weekend in Hanover. “We practice it a lot during practice and we are starting to see it come through in meets.”
Indeed, Harvard will be a tough match-up for the Quakers this weekend, but they are sure to see an increase in improvement as they train for the climax of their season.
As for Brown's status, the school's investigation remains ongoing. The Daily Pennsylvanian will continue to provide updates as more information comes in.