The University of Pennsylvania women’s swimming and diving team ended the2005-06 season with a fourth-place finish at the Ivy League Championships, the program’s highest ever. The Quakers finished the three-day event with 947 points, also a school record. Highlighting the Red and Blue’s strong finish was the 800-yard freestyle relay team that set a school record at 7:33.24. Another record-breaking performance was that of Tara Gillies, who finished the 200-yard IM at 2:05.38.
Starting Out Strong
Penn started the season by winning four of its first seven meets. The Quakers opened the season at home with a meet against Rider and Lehigh. The Red and Blue picked up impressive wins over both schools, defeating Rider 144.00-90.00 and Lehigh 157.00-81.00. The women had an impressive debut by winning five events. Margot Newcomer (10:21.17), Theresa Altieri (10:22.22) and Lindsey Gottschalk took the top three spots in the 1,000-yard freestyle. Also making a splash in her collegiate debut was freshman Lauren Bergstrom (54.43), who picked up the victory in the 100-yard.
The following weekend, Penn faced off against its first Ivy opponents in a meet with Princeton and Cornell. The Quakers split the meet, downing the Big Red 203-97 but falling to the Tigers 167-131. The Red and Blue started the day by winning the 200-yard medley relay. The team of Stephanie Colson, Megan Carlin, Gillies and Laura Hotaling finished with a time of 1:47.81. The Quakers’ strongest showing came in the 200-yard IM where Alison Bretherick (2:11.48), Amy Ottensmeyer (2:12.21) and Erica Gentilucci (2:13.01) placed second through fourth, respectively.
Before breaking for Thanksgiving, the Quakers hosted La Salle at Sheerr Pool. Penn took down the Explorers 137-94. The women took the first and second in the 200-yard medley relay. Colson, Carlin, Kristen Kelly and Hotaling took the top place with a 1:51.28 finish.
Penn then traveled to Columbia after a week and a half layoff for its second Ivy meet of the season. Penn led the Lions 143-140 heading into the final event, the 200-yard freestyle. However, the Quakers’ relay team lost by eight-tenths of a second and subsequently lost the meet.
The Red and Blue closed out the fall semester by hosting defending Ivy League champions Harvard. The Crimson proved to be too much for Penn, winning 14 events. Hotaling (25:06, 50-yard freestyle) and Jessica Aiello (54:05, 100-yard freestyle) picked up the Quakers’ only victories.
The Quakers trained at Florida Atlantic University for a week over the winter break and capped off the trip with a five-team meet. Penn had a successful day, picking up wins over Transylvania (195.00-10.00), College of Charleston (148.00-57.00) and Illinois State (138.00-66.00). The Red and Blue’s only loss came to Florida Atlantic, 141.00- 63.00.
Although Penn did not have any individual winners, they had plenty of top-10 finishes and the 400-yard freestyle relay team finished first. Newcomer (1:58.88) placed fourth in the 200-yard freestyle. Bergstrom (2:00.20) and Aiello (2:00.70) finished seventh and eighth. Nicole Malgeri (2:03.43) placed 10th. Carlin (2:17.17) and Gentilucci (2:18.56) finished fifth and seventh in the 200-yard IM.
Penn returned from Florida for four meets before the Ivy League Championships. After losing to Brown 123-120, the Quakers picked up four wins in their last three meets. Penn traveled to Hanover, N.H. for a dual meet with Dartmouth and Yale. Penn easily defeated the Big Green, 210-90. It was the Quakers’ three-point win over Yale that marked history for the program. With the 151.50-148.50 win over the Bulldogs, it was Penn’s first win over Yale in 18 years and its second in 35 years.
Cameron Villarreal (10:23.29) notched the Quakers’ first victory by taking the 1,000-yard free by just three seconds. The Red and Blue’s next victory came in the 200-yard free as Bergstrom (1:55.00) took the top spot. Penn dominated the 100-yard breast by placing three swimmers in the top five. Carlin (1:06.06) placed first and Laine Litman (1:07.65) and Gottschalk (1:08.74) took third and fourth. The Red and Blue hung tough for the duration of the meet and won the final three events of the day to hold off the Bulldogs.
The following Saturday, Penn downed Navy 157.00-100.00 in Annapolis. Although both teams won eight events, the Quakers picked up many key second and third-place finishes to win the meet. The Red and Blue’s most dominant performance came in the 400 freestyle, where theytook the top four spots thanks toNewcomer (4:25.64), Bergstrom (4:28.77), Malgeri (4:31.42) and Lauren Talman (4:40.14).
The Red and Blue returned home for their final meet against West Chester. Penn dominated the 3-meter diving. Kate McArdle (237.68), Kelly Tek (230.10) and Kenyon Lewis (214.95) took the top three spots. Penn capped off its victory with a win in the 400-yard freestyle relay as Bergstrom, Aiello, Ottensmeyer and Colson clocked 3:38.06. Penn ended up with a 145-77 victory for its 11th win of the season.
The Ivy League Championships
Through the first two days of competition, Penn was in third place. Thanks to efforts such as the 800-yard freestyle relay team, which helped Penn maintain third place picking up 52 points. Bergstrom, Villarreal, Altieri and Newcomer finished fourth at 7:33.24 and set the school record in the process. Also setting a school record was Gillies, who clocked 2:05.38 in the 200-yard IM.
Overall, the Red and Blue finished up the championships in fourth place with 947 points, both school records. It topped last year’s performance by 10.5 points and one spot better in the standings. This year also marked the first time Penn finished ahead of Brown and Yale in the Ivy Championships.