PHILADELPHIA - The men's swimming and diving team will get the 2012-13 season underway this weekend with a pair of meets, opening the year with an Ivy League battle at Columbia before returning home to Sheerr Pool on Saturday to face-off with the Connecticut Huskies. Friday's dual meet will get going at 5 p.m. from Columbia's Uris Pool. The diving competition will get the day started on Saturday at 1 p.m. with swimming to commence afterward at approximately 1:30 p.m.
There's no easy way to replace the most illustrious swimmer in school history, so it will take improvements across the board from the Quakers to make up for the loss of honorable mention All-American Brendan McHugh. Helping to ease the pain is the return of Nick Johnson, the school record-holder in the 100 Backstroke, who missed all of 2011-12. Junior Rhoads Worster came on stronger and stronger as last season progressed and ended up setting a school record in the 100 Butterfly at the Ivy League Championships with a time of 48.14. He came in seventh in that event but went even higher in the 200 Butterfly, finishing fifth while clocking in at 1:47.05.
Senior Stephen Carroll leads the distance group after making a big statement at the Ivy Championships, finishing fourth in the 1650 Freestyle and sixth in the 1000 Freestyle. Eric Vanden Noort will also swim some of those distance events and is part of a nine-man sophomore class that had a large impact for the Quakers a season ago. Dillon McHugh and Alex Porter worked their way onto both the 200 Free and 400 Medley relay teams by the end of last season, and the 800 Free Relay squad consisted of Porter, the elder McHugh, Konner Scott and Chris Lyons.
A year ago, Penn faced the same two teams in a season-opening gauntlet and came out with a 1-1 mark. The opener with Columbia came down to the final race of the night, the 400 Freestyle Relay, but a Lions victory in the event made up for the one-point deficit they had going in and gave the visitors a 154-146 win. Two days later, the Quakers rather easily handled UConn, winning 177-123. Worster was victorious in the 100 and 200 meter butterfly races on each day.
While Columbia will be marking its season opener right along with the Quakers, UConn is three weeks deep into competition. The Huskies claimed large victories over Bucknell and Fordham in an Oct. 20 tri-meet before falling by a 167.5-132.5 score to Army on Oct. 26.
After getting through this weekend, the Red and Blue welcome Cornell and Princeton to Sheerr Pool for an Ivy League tri-meet on Nov. 17 that begins at 3:30 p.m. All Penn home meets are free and open to the public.