PHILADELPHIA - The men's swimming and diving team will travel to Cambridge, Mass. this weekend, to open their 2006-07 season against Ivy rival Harvard at 3 p.m. on Saturday. Last year, Harvard was the team to beat, as they tied with Princeton for first in the league, and finished the year with an 8-1 overall record. With a strong group of returning swimmers, the Quakers have a bright outlook for the coming season.
The 2006-07 men’s swimming team will be talented and deep, as well as experienced, enthusiastic and energetic. With returning and potential EISL finalists in many events, the Quakers look to break into the top five of the league this season.
This season’s squad returns 20 varsity letterwinners, 13 returning EISL championship scorers, and two U.S. Senior National qualifiers. With the addition of an extremely deep and talented Class of 2010, this year’s team has the potential to be one of the best ever.
The Quakers will be led this year by an outstanding group of breaststrokers. Penn was the highest-scoring EISL team in breast last year, and looks to be even stronger this season. EISL finalists Alex Silvester (57, 2:06) and Yuchi Zhang (57, 2:05) will lead the way. In addition, Penn will boast sprint breaststrokers Ricky Walters and Chaz Maul, who have both posted 57’s in the 100 breast. Freshman Jimmy Munson, an Illinois state finalist,will immediately contribute in both the 100 and 200 breast.
Senior Joe Griffith (50, 1:49) and junior Devon Carr (1:50) will lead an esteemed butterfly group. Junior Alex Keeney (1:55) and sophomore Matt Curtis (1:57) will also contribute mightily. The fly group will also be tremendously bolstered by the addition of sophomore Ben Gan (49, 1:49), who is the top-ranked flyer in Singapore and was one of the top 10 high school flyers in America when he attended the Kiski School. The fly group will also welcome outstanding freshmen Ryan Dierberg and Jack Wiese, who have both gone 1:53 in the 200 fly. Junior Brian Gartner will handle the 100 fly for Penn this year along with help from Wiese and fellow freshman Larkin McDonald.
The distance program will be manned by a small but dedicated crew of swimmers, led by senior Jason McGrath. McGrath is an EISL finalist (9:25, 15:53) who leads this group every day with a tremendous work ethic. Joining McGrath will be Carr (4:33, 9:30) and freshmen Dierberg (4:37, 9:36), James Fee (4:37, 9:41), and John Benigno (4:41, 9:45).
The backstroke chores will be handled this season by senior EISL consolation finalist Teddy Rainaud (51, 1:50), as well as sophomore Chris Weitekamp (52.0, 1:55). These two will be joined by a deep freshman backstroke class that includes McDonald (51, 1:52), Brad Farris (52), Benigno (52, 1:55), and Chris Dietz (52).
The Penn sprint and mid-distance group will be the deepest and fastest in quite a few years. Junior school record-holder Pat Gallagher will lead the way — he is Penn’s fastest 50 (20.2 split), 100 (45.11, school record) and 200 freestyler (1:39). Sophomores John Gillette (21.0, 47), Steve Martucci (47, 1:43), T.J. Hutter (21, 47 splits) and Robert Casey (20.9, 46.5 splits) will join Gallagher, and Penn’s freshman sprinters are an impressive group who will be heavily relied upon immediately. Pennsylvania state champion Kyle Loughran (20.1, 45.4 relay splits), Michigan state finalist Farris (45.9 100 split, 1:41 200 free) and Arizona state finalist Carter Righi (20.7 split) will lead this group.
The individual medley events will again be a strong point for Penn. Silvester (1:55) and Brandon Thompson (1:56, 4:06) will set the tone with Casey (1:56). Freshmen Dierberg (1:54, 4:03) and Jimmy Munson (1:55) will be immediate impact swimmers in these events as well.
Senior Nick Corsano, a six-time EISL scorer, will lead the way on the diving boards. Joining Corsano will be Florida state finalist Aaron Levy, who is one of the most accomplished high school diving recruits in Penn’s recent history.
With depth and power in every event, the Quakers will have many exciting meets this season and continue climbing the league and national rankings.