Everybody these days seems to be concentrating on the "little man." Swimming has its little man too--he is the unsung plugger who may be depended upon the take second or third place in a meet. Too often, the crowd at a swimming meet is too anxious to applaud the brilliant winner of first place; the man who tracks a record every week. But actually, many of the greatest thrills during an aquatic evening are provided by the second and third place men fighting it out for the unheralded honors.
The "little man" is especially important at Harvard this year because the Crimson squad can usually supply an outstanding first-place man in almost every event. Charlie Hutten, Graham Cummin and Willie Kendall generally finish so far ahead of their opponents that the actual competitive racing that appeals to the on-looker is found in the battles for second and third.
But aside from his appeal to the crowd in the pool balcony, the little man is important because of his point-getting ability. Seconds and thirds, any Varsity swimmer will tell you, won the Yale meet last year. It was such things as Don Racker's second in the 50, Jim Munroe's third in the breastroke, and Hutter's magnificent second in the 440 that saved the meet from being decided by the last event, the open relay, which Yale won. It is worthy of mention that the crowd gave Hutter the greatest ovation not when he took the 220 in record time, not when he took the 100 in record time, but when he pulled through with the second in the quarter-mile grind.
This year, Bob Murphy and Ed Howitt wage terrific battles for second and third place in the 440 while Frank Coleman wins by a large margin. While Hutter runs away with the 100, it's Freddie Griffin who has the real race on his hands for the lesser honors. Ray Benedict always has to work his head off in the 220 while Digger Kendall coasts to a record, and Jack Kennedy in the backstroke, Jim Munroe and Phil Walker in the breast, and Forbush and Synder in the dive, are never sure of their places unless they put up a real fight.
This doesn't mean that the first place men are to be scorned for being too good--it means merely that racing swimmers develop to a point where work and guts and ability just won't make them go any faster. That's their high point. And if the high points of Hutter, Cummin and company produce faster times than those of Griffin and Benedict, etc., then there's no reason why they should be slighted.
And they're not slighted at Harvard. "Why all the fuss then?" is the question that might be asked. It's just that when a group of athletes combined together in unshakable unity, a team in other words, are achieving great things, its good to let the public know that the unit is responsible for success, not only the individual stars.