The Harvard swimming team, winning most of the races but failing to score significantly in the seconds and thirds, saw Dartmouth spoil their undefeated season on Saturday as the Indians pulled out a narrow 57-56 win in Hanover. The loss dropped the swimmers' record to 2-1.
It was a frustrating afternoon for coach Don Gambril and his squad as they had victory within their grasp on several occasions. Only to see the breaks go the other way. A fluke decision in the 100 yd. free, resulting in a Dartmouth first instead of a win for Harvard, provided the final margin of difference.
The judges awarded first place to Carstensen of Dartmouth, although the electronic timer indicated that Harvard's Tim Neville had swum the faster race by one hundreth of a second. Evidently, the electronic backup judging system, which is part of the timer, credited Carstensen with the first touch, and the judges went by that decision although the evidence was to the contrary.
Hinged on Depth
The meet, which was decided before the final relay, hinged largely on depth. The Crimson, hurt by sickness, Dartmouth's training edge, and the Christmas layoff, just didn't quite have the overall strength to take the meet, or to force it down to the final relay. In several instances, though, Crimson swimmers were beaten by small fractions of a second. In the 200 yd. back, Paul Scott was touched out by .4 of a second, and Dick Baughman came within a "fingernail", as Gambril termed it, of second place in the 500 yd. free.
The freshmen, who have been a big part of the mermen's success so far this season, performed as usual, taking five individual firsts. Sophomore Fred Mitchell took his customary firsts in the 200 and 500 yd. free, although his times were a few seconds slower than in pre-Christmas competition.
The interesting aspect of the meet was the poor showing of the upperclassmen, who accounted for only 6 1/4 points out of the Crimson's total of 56, and failed to take any firsts.
"We weren't prepared to swim our best times." Gambril said yesterday. "What we were trying to do was match up the races, and scrap to pick up points. As it turned out all we needed was one more point."
Optimism and Pessimism
Gambril expressed both optimism and pessimism about the future. "If we could have gotten past Dartmouth we would be in good shape to challenge Penn, Princeton, and Yale later in the season," he said. "Right now we will be lucky to break .500 in the league (the Eastern League), and 5-4 overall."
But Gambril seemed particularly pleased with the performance of his freshmen. "We are scoring with our freshmen, and are working towards rebuilding," he said. It is obvious that Gambril has high hopes for the future, and with easy meets against Brown and Springfield coming up this month, he is already thinking about Princeton, Yale, and Penn in February, and beyond.