Harvard swimming experienced a big let down in the year 1939 from the glories that were 1937 and 1938 when upstart Brown passed out a 38 to 37 set-back to the Ulenmen, Princeton carried off a 45 to 30 decision in Brokaw Pool, and Yale pinned another 45 to 30 defeat on the Crimson in Cambridge.
With a bottomless well of material at the disposal of Yale's Bob Kilputh, a victory over the Elis seemed all but impossible even at the start of the current season. Erasing the Bruin and Tiger defeats would be the chief objectives of the 1940 Ulenmen, and a single reversal at the hands of the all-powerful Blue would not mar an otherwise undefeated season.
The first threat to the question mark Crimson squad came from a rejuvenated Big Green outfit. Last fall Coach Karl Michael of Dartmouth began talking about a victory over Harvard as the climax of his first year at Hanover. He worked things up to a fever pitch for the Harvard-Dartmouth tank meeting a month ago, but the Crimson squad only unfurled a bit more of its power in completely humbling the Green. Next came the threat from Brown, and here again Harvard won as it please. Neither Springfield nor Columbia could ever be regarded as more than interesting workouts.
Princeton on March 2 in the Indoor Athletic Building is the night of nights for the Harvard swimming team. A victory over the Tigers would give Coach Ulen's men a clear claim as fourth ranking team in the United States Michigan and Ohlo State, tank titans of the West, and Yale are the only colleges which would rate higher consideration.
The Crimson swimmers have made steady improvement since the beginning of the season and should continue to improve with every day of practice. The steady procession of record-shattering Yale performances make Crimson efforts look weak, but Hal Ulen has fashioned out a swimming team which takes its place as one of the University's outstanding athletic units.
Only a big Blue Yale cloud appeared on the Princeton nautical horizon in December; but now they have begun to realize that much power lurks in unexpected places on the Crimson roster. No team has forced Coach Ulen to play all of his cards yet. The Tigers were dealt a cruel blow when academic deficiencies cost them the services of sprinter Jim Green and outstanding Sophomore backstroker Mark Follansbee for the balance of the year; and the close squeeze they experienced against Dartmouth demonstrated that troubled waters would be waiting for them in Cambridge.
Al Vande Weghe
Princeton has Captain Al Vande Weghe, undoubtedly the second best dorsal ace in the country, but its depth in free-style events is only skin-deep. Ned Parke leads the free-style delegation and is capable of brilliant performances in the 100, 220, and 440. Sullivan and Boozan can both do a creditable century, as can Vande Weghe when he turns over on his belly. The Tiger captain is also a good 220 man when the occasion demands.
The breastrokers, McClure and Pach, are a fast-improving pair, and will give the Crimson butterfly artists plenty of competition in the 200 yard event. On the other hand, the Orange and Black divers are again below par, and the distance men are only mediocre. Shef Halsey is capable of a 5:05 quarter, but the others (save Parke or possibly Vande Weghe) are not usually within hailing distance of him.
The meet in the Indoor Athletic Building on March 2 will be an extremely interesting one. The visitors will have in Seammel a backstroker capable of pushing Bosworth to the limit so Crimson fans will probably he treated to the spectacle of the great Tiger backstroke captain turning over on his stomach to help his team's rather weak free-style outrios. He and Parke will carry a heavy load that night, and the better-balanced Harvard team, especially as in the free style events, should rate as a slight favorite at this date. Few of the races are predictable with any degree of certainty, and if the meet goes to the final relay, it will be a thriller. Princeton could probably muster up a foursome of Boozan, Sullivan, Vande Weghe, and Parke, who would make things tough for any Crimson quarter.