In swimming, the timing of a team's training can raise it to a higher level. Without careful planning, swimmers can enter meets too exhausted to swim well.
Saturday, Penn State showed the importance of this principle for the fans assembled at DeNunzio Pool. With some rest in their bodies, the Nittany Lions defeated the women's swimming team, 169-129, to mark the Tigers' first dual-meet loss of the season, moving the team's record to 7-1 overall and 5-0 in the Ivy League.
The Tigers had worked extremely hard in the water during the week prior to last weekend's competition and the grueling workouts took their toll.
"We looked tired even before getting in the water Friday night," head coach Susan Teeter said.
Friday, the team headed to New York to face off against a weak Columbia team. One of the Tigers' only stumbling blocks in the meet came in the person of the Lions' Christina Teuscher, who placed first in the breaststroke and individual medley events and led her crew to victory in the 200-yard medley relay. Princeton swimmers touched first in all but six events as the Tigers cruised to a decisive 178-121 win.
Saturday, a different story unraveled back on the Princeton campus. The Nittany Lions, who had already started tapering for the Big Ten championship meet, began decisively with sweeps of the 1,000 and 200 freestyle events. Though the divers had provided a small 11-point lead earlier after the oneand three-meter competitions, the Tigers watched the points flow in Penn State's favor as the meet progressed.
The meet against the Penn State forced the Tigers to ask themselves, "How good do you want to be?"
It's up to you
"Sometimes, you have to ask yourself, 'Did you want to swim a Division III school or [face] a challenge?' " Teeter said.
Still, the Tigers showed that they would be ready for this weekend's crucial meets against Harvard and Brown. Not all the Tigers seemed entirely worn out – some swimmers went through a slight taper last week, and they performed much better than their teammates.
Junior Bess Frank captured two wins in the 100 back (57.64 seconds) and the 100 free, where she touched only .05 seconds ahead of one of her Penn State opponents. Freshman Amy Roth captured the Tigers' only other win in the swimming events, placing first in the 200 backstroke in a time of 2:05.27.
In the diving events, senior Bianca Freda ended her home-meet career at Princeton with victories on both the oneand three-meter boards, marking the best performance of her collegiate career. Freshman Erin Lutz added seconds in both events. The efforts of the divers established the Tigers' early lead, but the Nittany Lions' strength in the swimming events foiled the Tigers' chances.
Brown and Harvard stand as the Tigers' next challenges. The team must call upon the spirited rivalries with the Bears and the Crimson to get an extra edge for the two meets. Just as at the league championship meet, each swimmer must look to produce one or two points more for the team to succeed.
"In close meets, the team that wants to win more usually does," Teeter said.
This weekend's competition will decide the Ivy dual-meet champion as Brown enters the weekend undefeated in the league after defeating Harvard early in the season.