Swimmer makes his marks

Junior Mark Andrew of the men’s swimming and diving team is an Ivy champion and record-holder.

Mark Andrew Penn Swimming

Like the dolphin on the Penn shield, Mark Andrew of the men’s swimming and diving team is at ease in the water.

The junior from Middletown, Ohio, is the Penn and Ivy League Championships record-holder in the 200 and 400 individual medley (IM). At the conference finals in February, his 200 IM time of 1:43.24 broke his own school record, set last year, by 1.51 seconds and earned him his second consecutive Ivy title. 

Enrolled in the School of Engineering and Applied Science, Andrew has won the 400 IM at the Ivy Championships for three straight years, making him the third swimmer in school history to win an event at the meet three years in a row. His 400 time of 3:41.95 at this year’s Ivies was 1.33 seconds faster than his previous Championships record. He enters his senior year with five Ivy League titles and three NCAA Championships appearances.

On the sidelines of Sheerr Pool at the Pottruck Center, Penn Today dives in.

How long have you been swimming? Competitively? Since I was 4.

Really? How’d you get started? The story that my dad always tells is that we would go to our YMCA and he’d kind of just drop me in and I’d paddle back to the wall. The story is that was before I could walk. It’s easier to paddle than walk when you’re a kid because you don’t actually have to support your weight. There were a lot of old ladies there that were horrified.

Mark Andrew Penn swimming

What do you enjoy about the sport? I love to compete. I like to get in every day and see what I can do, see if I can push myself a little bit further. 

Were there swimmers you looked up to in your youth? My whole family swam. My parents both swam in college. My dad was pretty good and my brother and sister both swam. I really looked up to my brother and my dad as kind of examples. You can’t grow up in the last 15 years without looking up to Michael Phelps—and you can’t meet someone and tell them you’re a swimmer without them asking you if you’re going to be the next Michael Phelps. He’s just had a huge impact on the sport, so I think everybody looks up to him in some way.

What sort of training is required for an athlete such as yourself? Our schedule during the year is we do two hours in the afternoon every day, two hours on Saturday morning, and then Monday, Wednesday, Friday morning we swim from 6:30 to 7:30 and then we lift from 8 to 9.

Mark Andrew Penn swimming

Why were you interested in attending Penn? Growing up, my parents always told me that I should go to the best school that I could get myself into. As I got through high school and became a better swimmer, I started thinking seriously about swimming in college. At a lot of other schools, you can be a competitive swimmer, but it takes even more time and they’re not flexible with schedules like Penn is. And then there are other schools where you can get a really good education, but you’re not going to be anywhere near as competitive on a national level in your sport. The Ivy League and Penn provide a place where you can do both.

What do you like to do when you’re not swimming or studying? I live with a bunch of swimmers. For the most part, I spend a lot of time just hanging out in my living room with the other guys. Right now, I’ve been playing a lot of Fortnite. I’m from Ohio so we play a lot of corn hole. We have boards in our basement so we whip those out whenever it gets warm. Mostly, I just try to relax.

Do you swim for fun? It’s not as entertaining to just get in and splash around, but I certainly do still swim for fun. I know a lot of [swimmers] that don’t, but I’ll never turn down a game of water polo, although I’m not particularly good at it.

Mark Andrew Penn swimming