Penn men’s swimming and diving reached the finish line of its season this week at the Ivy League Championships.
The Quakers (6-4, 2-4 Ivy) finished in fifth place out of seven teams after four days of competition with a total of 1032.5 points at the DeNunzio Pool at Princeton. Harvard (9-0, 6-0) won the Ivy League title for the second consecutive year with 1630.5 points, and Princeton (7-4, 5-2) came in second with 1285.5 points. Brown did not compete in the meet due to allegations of hazing among the team members.
Despite the low team result, coach Mike Schnur was proud of the team’s performance, especially by the showings of its top swimmers.
“It was really, really fun to watch how fast some of our best guys went,” Schnur said. “We had some unbelievable swims.”
Penn’s meet was highlighted by the historic performance of junior Mark Andrew, who won both the 200 yard and 400 yard IM races. With times of 1:43.24 and 3:41.95, respectively, he set new program, meet, and pool records in both events. This continues a long string of success for the 2017 All-American, who won the same two races last year at the Ivy League championships and also won the 400 IM as a freshman.
Andrew will next compete at the NCAA Championships in late March at the University of Minnesota.
“He breaks pool records and meet records and Ivy records,” Schnur said. “He’s set up as one of the top fifteen guys in the country right now heading off to NCAAs.”
The Quakers had several other successful performances in the pool this week. A few of these included junior Mark Blinstrub’s second-place finishes in the 100 and 200 backstroke, junior Thomas Dillinger’s third-place finishes in the 200 IM and 100 freestyle, and freshman Will Thomas’s third place in the 1000 freestyle.
While Penn was not able to overcome some of its closest rivals in Harvard and Princeton, the result was not completely unexpected. The Crimson and Tigers posed tough competition this year, as they both had already defeated the Quakers during the regular season.
Despite finishing in the bottom half of the team standings this week, Penn swimming and diving anticipates a bright future. The team is only graduating three seniors, and some of its best performers including Andrew, Blinstrub, and Dillinger are all returning for one final year. Competition from the other schools in the Ancient Eight will remain strong, however, so the Quakers will need to bring their best to the pool in order to break into the top tier.
“Half of our Ivy team were seniors last year. Now half of them are freshmen,” Schnur said. “It’s an exciting time because we have such a small senior class this year. We have a lot of young guys who are going to be mainstays in our program in the next two or three years.”
Given the many strong individual performances at the Ivy League Championships, Penn swimming and diving has plenty of reasons to be proud. Any disappointment will simply be water under the bridge come next fall.