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Now-sophomore Abby Wickersham during last season's meet against Rider on Jan. 27. Credit: Samantha Turner

From the moment Penn women’s swimming and diving sophomore Abby Wickersham first jumped into the water at age five, she just couldn’t see a stopping point for pursuing the sport. Today, it's led her to the Red and Blue.  

Her recruitment process was unique due to COVID-19, so she didn’t get to visit any prospective schools, and she picked a college based on calls she had with coaches. Part of her decision to choose Penn was influenced by her unique familiarity with the University, as her mom works here and her dad attended Penn for graduate school. She added that talking to coach Mike Schnur on the phone also really drew her into the program.

Growing up, she moved several times for her parents’ work, so she’s had to adapt to new teams multiple times, but her transition to college proved to be a unique challenge.

“Being away from home was hard, and I was not used to the kind of training we do here, so settling in was difficult,” Wickersham said. 

Schnur believes Wickersham has already shown improvement since last year, though, noting her increased speed and constant dedication to improvement. He added that her competitiveness and consistency are a couple of her greatest strengths as an athlete, and he’s looking forward to seeing her grow over the next two and a half years into somebody who can be a champion.

“She's just now adapting to trying to get stronger,” he said. “You know, in high school, Abby didn't really get a lot of weight working. Now she's working with our strength coach and doing a really good job. As she gets stronger, she's going to get faster."

To open the season, Wickersham picked up a pair of first-place finishes against Richmond after racing a 23.84 in the 50-yard freestyle and a 52.21 in the 100y free. Though her times didn't see improvement, she picked up yet another first-place medal against Villanova in the 50y free. She then went on record for her season best time of 51.59 in the 100y free against Brown.

Over the course of her career, Wickersham believes swimming has aided her in building a strong sense of discipline.

“Having to manage school, especially as an Ivy League student athlete, it's really challenging,” she said. “So things like time management skills, discipline in the pool, and always staying focused are important, even though things are so busy.”

Her bonds with her teammates have helped her keep her head above the water, and she added that seeing success among her teammates inspires her to do better.

“When you're doing these hard sets with your teammates, it really helps you get through it,” she said. “Meets are such a team effort. We just competed against Brown. Even though the women lost by a little bit, everybody was so motivated. We were supporting each other, and it's just really fun to be a part of that.”

The Quakers are 2-4 and 0-4 in meets against Ivy League opponents, but Wickersham is optimistic for the rest of the season. She looks forward to racing more rested since they’ve been training extremely hard for dual meets. The Red and Blue will next compete in the Big Al Invitational at Princeton this Friday. 

“I'm really excited for the team we have this year,” she said. “Everybody is putting such a good effort towards performances and in practice, and I'm really excited to see how that turns out at Ivy's. I feel like I'm  in the best shape of my life so far right now, so I'm trying to enjoy that.”