Whew, what a weekend. Wolfing down home-cooked food for four days, and watching an interesting championship swimming meet, I had the added bonus of participating in an impromptu one-man auto thrill show.
Driving back to Cambridge on Interstate 91 in the rain (it invariably rains, snows or sleets when I drive back to Harvard). I realized I was running out of gas. Desperately searching for a gas station. I made a split second decision to take the next exit just as I was passing it.
With a quick swerve to the right reminiscent of Steve McQueen in "Bullit," I took the ramp at a brisk 65 mph. Suddenly it dawned on me that I was going too fast. Screech, I drove my foot down on the brakes. Lulled into a false sense of security, my two friends awoke to find the car skidding and spinning out of control between the two guard rails. After one and a quarter exciting revolutions the car came to a stop that left us straddling the ramp, and, needless to say, a bit shaken.
The rest of the weekend was, by comparison, dull. The Harvard swimming team, returning to Yale for the second time in less than a week, didn't seem to mind the encore. The team had a very rewarding three days, setting 11 new school records and tieing one other, in a fine conclusion to a strong 6-3 season.
Back in December, with a new coach and a flock of freshman prospects, I was cautiously optimistic - to use a well-worn phrase - about the approaching season. Several swimmers from last year had already quit or were in the process of dropping off the team, and I knew little about the freshman except that highly-regarded new coach Don Gambril was counting on them to form the nucleus of his squad.
After swamping Army, registering a mild upset over Navy at Annapolis, and losing a tough one-point decision to the Indian's at Hanover, it became evident that the highly-touted freshmen, eligible to swim varsity for the first time this year, were fast becoming Crimson standouts. Rich Baughman, who as the season progressed, became the team's most consistent performer, developed into a strong distance-freestyle man. Tim Neville, who had an outstanding weekend at the Easterns, showed promise in the sprints, while Dave Brumwell scored consistently in the breaststroke and IM.
But sophomore Fred Mitchell, who was elected captain of next year's team yesterday, was undoubtedly the early Crimson standout. At one point in January he held Harvard records in the 200-yd. free, the 500-yd. free and the 1000-yd. free, and remained undefeated in both the first two distances for most of the season. Although Mitchell faded a bit at the end, he performed well under constant pressure all season long, and should be a fine team captain.
In January, Springfield and Brown proved to be unworthy opponents for the Crimson, as it beat both in amusing encounters at the IAB to push its record to 4-1. (Part two of this scintillating wrap-up will appear in tomorrow's Crimson)