PHILADELPHIA - The men's swimming team will begin the 2011-12 season with two stern tests this weekend, as they play host to Columbia on Friday beginning on 6 p.m., before traveling to do battle with Connecticut on Sunday at 12 p.m.
Last season, the Red and Blue fell to both the Lions and Huskies in dual meets, but the Quakers came on strong as the season progressed, wrapping up the Ivy Championships in fifth place, with rising senior Brendan McHugh earning All-Ivy honors for the third year in a row in the 100 Breaststroke. McHugh also swam the second leg of the 200 Medley Relay team that earned All-Ivy recognition, with Rhoads Worster (butterfly) and Peter Amos (freestyle) each returning to try to top their own school record of 1:29.13 in the event. The group holds the all-time Penn mark in the 400 Medley Relay as well, with a time of 3:15.23.
In addition to McHugh, the duo that helps form the medley relay team will be expected to lead in their individual events. Worster looks to build on a versatile freshman season that saw him compete in the "B" finals of the 200 IM and 100 Backstroke at the Ivy Championships, as well as finishing sixth in the Ivies in the 200 Fly. Amos is a sprint event specialist who was top ten in the conference in the 50 and 100 Freestyle, and 11th in the 100 Fly.
Stephen Carroll, Paul Hartmeier and Cam Hood return as distance freestylers who will play important roles in the 500, 1000 and 1650 events. Diving should remain strong with the return of Jeff Cragg and Alex Marple. Cragg is the school record-holder in the 1 meter with a score of 349.13, and finished third in the Ivies last year in that competition.
The home team has won the last five match-ups between Penn and Columbia, so the Quakers hope to keep that streak going at Sheerr Pool on Friday. Columbia finished third at the Ivy Championships a year ago. UConn, coming off a fifth-place finish at last year's Big East Championships, took home victories over Villanova and Georgetown in its first scored event of the year. Last week, the Huskies fell to Army in dual meet action by a score of 176.5-123.5.