The University of Pennsylvania swimming and diving team had an outstanding 2015-2016 season, highlighted by the crowning of their first ever NCAA Champion. That swim capped a year in which the program qualified four individual swimmers for the NCAA championship and tied for their highest ever finish in the Ivy League.
The journey to this season has been a long one for the Quakers and longtime coach (and alumni) Mike Schnur. When Schnur arrived as a swimmer in 1983, Penn was at the absolute bottom of the Ivy League. After a brief interlude outside of the swimming world, Schnur returned as an assistant coach in 1993 before taking over as head coach in 2000.
Even in the 2000s, the program struggled to gain traction in a league that has one of the most entrenched hierarchies in swimming. While recruiting has improved, this breakthrough owes a lot to the incredible job Schnur and his coaches have done developing the swimmers that they get.
Take for example their star, NCAA champion Chris Swanson. Swanson was a 15:21 in that race coming into college, meaning that he improved 50 seconds over his time at Penn. On the other side of the spectrum, sprinter Eric Schultz arrived in West Philadelphia with a personal best of 45.64 in the 100 free and finished at 42.83.
While Swanson and Schultz will graduate and move on, the future still looks bright for Penn. Freshmen Mark Andrew qualified for NCAAs and set an Ivy record in his first year. Penn’s other individual NCAA qualifier, Alex Peterson, was just a sophomore this year.
A rundown of other highlights for the team:
10 Penn Records
6 Ivy League Titles
4 Ivy League Records
6 NCAA Qualifiers
Highlight video courtesy of Kevin Su and Michael Hamman: