PHILADELPHIA - With expectations high again this year, the Quakers open their season by hosting BIG EAST foe Connecticut on Saturday at 1 p.m.
The Red and Blue won four of its six final meets last year and recorded its second straight fourth place finish at the 2009-10 Ivy League Championships. Among Penn's numerous top-eight finishes, a majority came from the Quaker's senior class of seven swimmers.
Replacing the results those seniors provided won't be easy but the Red and Blue do return a wealth of talent for the upcoming season, including four who hold or previously held school records.
Chief among the record-holders is Laura Klick. The junior owns school records in the 100-yard breast, 200-yard breast and 200-yard I.M events. Klick set both breaststroke records as a freshman, but still turned in top eight performances in both events at last years Ivy Championships. She also swam her record-breaking 200 I.M. at the Championships, breaking the previous mark by nearly a second, touching in 2:02.78. Klick isn't the team's only strong breaststroker, as senior Kelby Zimmerman owns some of the top times in program history in the 100-yard breast and 200-yard breast.
Senior Naomi Delphin will be counted on once again to produce valuable points for the Red and Blue. The flyer and distance freestyler had a top-eight finish in the 1,000-yard free and also swam the 500-yard free and 200-yard fly at last year's championships. She owns the school record in the in the 200-yard free and also the 200-yard fly, while recording some of the school's top times in the 500-yard free.
Sophomore Melissa Parratto and senior Carey Stauder also compete in a variety of events, swimming both in the I.M. and butterfly at last year's championships. At the championships, Parratto broke Stauder's one-year-old 400-yard I.M. record, finishing more than a second ahead of the previous mark.
In backstroke, the Quakers will have to replace the duo of Sara Coenen and Ainsley Cookingham, a combination which owns the top two times in both the 100 and 200-yard back. Freshmen Katherine Ashenfelter and Shelby Fortin will be expected to try and fill that void.
Fortin will also be counted upon to score in freestyle, where Penn lost a few seniors. Junior Jenny Claydon also returns after swimming on the team's 200 and 400-yard free relay teams in the Ivy Championships. She also placed 19th in the 100-yard free.
One area where the Quakers lost little in numbers was diving, as the team returns three seniors and a sophomore who was injured last season. Seniors, Madeline Bauer, Siobhan Carey and Terren Niethamer all scored big points for Penn last season and the return of sophomore Alison Miller should only bolster the squad.
Looking at this weekend's opponent, the Quakers face a Connecticut team which has already beaten BIG EAST foes Georgetown, Rutgers and Villanova by at least 50 points apiece.