Despite a fourth place finish out of eight at the Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championship meet this past Saturday, Penn women's swimming is walking away, or swimming away, feeling like winners.
After four long days of competition, the Quakers finished with 921.5 points, behind Princeton with 1301.0, Yale with 1490.5 and eventual champion Harvard at 1616.0. However, it was the individual titles and record breaking in the Blodgett Pool at Harvard that showed Penn’s strength as a team.
Penn had two different athletes win titles at the Championship meet for the second time in program history, and the first since 2011. Freshman Quinn Scannell, with a time of 1:54.64 in the 200-yard backstroke, broke a program, meet, and Blodgett Pool record. Senior Virginia Burns took home the title in the 500 free, her fourth win in a row.
Burns also became the first swimmer in school history to win the same Ivy title four times in as many years.
“For Virginia, it was four in a row … It was a great thing to see her do it because it was a lot of nerves. There was a lot of pressure on her to win that fourth one,” coach Mike Schnur said. “And for Quinn, to win her first [title] coming out of certainly not going into the season as someone you look at would be able to win, passed an awful lot of women.”
The Quakers (6-5, 3-4 Ivy) faced a lot of great competition with Harvard, Yale, and Princeton showing consistent strength. Penn had also already faced Harvard and Brown this season, losing to both at a tri-meet. Harvard and Princeton combined have won 17 out of the last 18 Ivy League Swimming and Diving Championships, so it is safe to say Penn’s fourth place finish was definitely still a success.
“We were a good united team. We had a lot of spirit. The girls were really into it, especially the first couple of days when we were establishing our position in the meet,” Schnur said. “They were a really good cohesive team and I enjoyed watching that.”
Penn’s swimmers secured their fourth-place position on day three, widening the gap between them and Brown. Harvard sophomore Miki Dahlke, who barely lost to Burns in the 200-yard freestyle in 2017, came back for revenge this year and finished before Burns in this year's event.
In the final day of the meet, the highlight for Penn was definitely Scannell’s win in the 200-yard backstroke, a race that included Scannell upsetting each of the two most recent league champions in the event.
Penn is not stopping now. Fresh off a satisfactory result, the team hopes to use the post season to train and swim even better the next season.
“You want to put yourself in a position to compete even better next year. To improve as a swimmer, you have to approach your offseason like everything you’re doing now is going to make you better next year," Schnur said.
"Whether it's hard work in the pool or the weight room or running or preparing yourself for the summer season, we’re trying to get better for next year."