It is somewhat unique in intercollegiate athletics for the second place team in a small league to have absolutely no chance of beating the team which has won every year but two since the league was founded.
Yale and Harvard have been in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League for 20 years. In all that time, Harvard has beaten Yale twice, in 1937 to end an Eli string of 163 dual most victories, and again in 1938. Since the war, Yale has won 72 consecutive meets. The alltime Blue record under Bob Kiphuth is 453 to 10.
The 1951 Crimson team is Harvard's fastest ever. It could have beaten the '37-'38 teams by ten points or more. It has established clear superiority over every team in the East, except Yale. Yet there has not been a Yale team in a decade which this squad could have threatened.
This is just as much of a problem for Yale as it is for the rest of the league. The Yale News constantly complains that the team is not getting enough competition, and the spectators complain if Kiphuth keeps the score reasonable by withholding John Marshall, Wayne Moore, and Jim McLane, the three sophomores who can beat every other middle or long distance freestyler in the country.
For the Three M's, the set-up is perfect--no unnecessary work. For Jack Blum, Eastern 440 and 220 champion last year, 1951 has been a crushing disappointment. Sophomore Frank Chamberlain, a good enough freestyler to captain any other E. I. S. L. team, faces two more years as a stand-in. Captain Ray Reid's sprinting fell off noticeably when two sophomores, Don Sheff and Dick Thoman, beat his best.
The only way Kiphuth can keep up the team's interest is by splitting it up into two squads for midweek meets. Each squad could beat any college team but Ohio State. There are swimmers at Yale who have won national championships, and could only make the second team the following year.
Meanwhile, the freshman breast- and backstrokes have fared well in the Eastern Intercollegiates. And a Yale graduate living in Boston, is giving a year at Exeter to Kerry Donovan, already the second best sprinter in the world.
It is not hard to see that a merely excellent swimmer should regret going to Yale, where the announcement of his name is greeted by boos from spectators who want to see the world record holders, the men Kiphuth is nursing for the national championship.
Harold S. Ulen, who has coached Harvard swimming for two decades since its start, differs from prevailing sentiment in saying that we should develop a team and beat Yale.
These are courageous words, for Yale has already won the next four league championships.