Men's Swimming Opens Ivy Championships on Thursday

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Princeton's DeNunzio Pool will play host to the 2012 Ivy League Men's Swimming and Diving Championships, beginning on Thursday morning and continuing through Saturday evening. The Quakers came in fifth last season at Harvard's Blodgett Pool, as Brendan McHugh won his second career title in the 100 Breaststroke with a meet record time of 53.66. Though he faces a tall task with Princeton's Jonathan Christensen and Harvard's Chuck Katis opposing him, McHugh aims to become just the second three-time Ivy champion in Penn history, following in the wake of Jeff Brown, who won three titles in the 200 Butterfly from 1995-97.

Though Harvard and Princeton have won every Ivy title dating back to 1994, Penn seeks to re-claim its upper-division status for the second time in three years after falling less than 40 points short of fourth place last season. To do that, the Red and Blue will need high-level performances across the board, and that includes on the boards, where Jeff Cragg placed third (1-meter) and sixth (3-meter) at last year's championship. This season might be a different story for the senior however, as he has been re-writing the record books for the better part of 2012 and looks to be a threat to take home at least one Ivy title.

Elsewhere, Penn will need to find some contributions in the freestyle events. Peter Amos clocked the 13th fastest 50 Freestyle time in the Ivies this year at Kenyon and finished 10th at last year's championships, and McHugh swam the top 200 Freestyle time in the league at the Kenyon meet as well, though the freestyle isn't one of his normal events. Much will fall to a crop of freshmen, Alex Porter, Sam Ruddy, Konner Scott and Eric Vanden Noort among them, to assure the Quakers don't fall far behind in those six individual and three relay races.

Another freshman, Dillon McHugh, and Rhoads Worster are the likely candidates to step up in the 100 and 200 Backstrokes. Worster was 13th in the 100 at last year's event while McHugh's time in the 100 is the eighth fastest in the league this season.

There is little doubt of who will be the anchor of Penn's breaststroke chances. Brendan McHugh's school record time of 53.04, set on Dec. 1, 2011, stands as the 10th best time in the country this year and is likely to qualify him for the national meet. Furthermore, his 200 Breaststroke school record time of 1:56.16 is 16th in the nation and both stand as the top times in the Ivy League, though Christensen is less than a second behind in both categories. McHugh may be called upon in at least one of the two IM events as well. He placed second in last year's 200 IM.

In the butterfly, Worster will be joined by seniors Amos and Robbie Shilton as the likely trio that could qualify for the finals. Both Penn records in those events are held by Steven Kuster and date back to 1993, but could be in danger with Worster's times falling drastically in the meets leading up to the Ivy Championships. Worster was sixth in the 200 Fly last year while Amos was the best Quaker finisher in the 100 in 11th place.

The Ivy League will provide full coverage of the event, including a blog and live results posted at the end of both preliminaries and finals. Video coverage is available here through the Princeton website ($9.95 for a one-month subscription offers access to all six sessions of the Swimming and Diving Championships, both the men's and women's Penn-Princeton basketball contests on March 6, as well as the EIWA Championships.) Preliminary swims begin at 11 a.m. on all three days while the finals are contested starting at 6 p.m.