When Princeton arrived in Cambridge last weekend, it was the King of Eastern Swimming. The Tigers managed to slip past upstart Harvard and pretty much mauled everyone else last year to wrest away the championship of the Eastern Swim League from its traditional owners and take it back to New Jersey. But the wave of swimming fortune crested and broke too soon for the Tigers this year as their loss to the Crimson last weekend just about paved the way for Harvard to take the Easterns in 1974.
The road is not completely clear with four dual meets yet to go, but all indications are that the remaining meets should not cause too many problems. Cornell, always good, is not expected to be too tough, nor is Brown or Pennsylvania although there might be a few surprises. Yale (March 2), the perennial Ivy champion, always promises to be an obstacle, but this year it should not be an insurmountable one.
Princeton hosts the EISL championships the week thereafter and Tiger coach Bill Farley vowed he would have his charges ready for Harvard. But after Saturday's impressive performance, one has to wonder how much the results will really change.
Harvard's swimming success has been meteor-like. In only a couple of years, the program has skyrocketed from relative mediocraty to one of the best in the East. This new-found success is mostly due to the stellar freshmen and sophomores on the squad. Sophomore Hess Yntema, the best all-around swimmer on the team and very likely one of the best in Harvard's history, either set or help set six university records last year. So far this year, he has recorded nationally prominent times in the 200 IM, 200 freestyle, and 200 butterfly.
Freshman sensation and Australian national team member Peter Tetlow has been spectacular so far this year, setting two University records in the 500 freestyle and 1000-yard freestyle with two marks that rank among the country's best this winter. But these two swimmers don't comprise the entire team. Backstroker Tom Wolfe, junior Dave Brumwell, sprinter Tim Neville, and captain freestyler Fred Mitchell each contributed key wins in the Princeton meet, and a host of others supplied vital second- and third-place points.
And so Harvard coach Ray Essick has assembled a team from all over the world and a team that probably ranks among the best ever to represent Harvard. It was kind of funny to watch the faces of the Princeton swimmers after Harvard demolished the Tigers on Saturday. They had been so sure that they would beat Harvard, and probably easily.
After Tetlow beat Princeton star Joe Loughran in the 500 freestyle in their second encounter of the afternoon, I overheard a conversation between Loughran and a teammate as they stood right beneath my seat at the scorers' table. "They're amazing," Loughran said about the race and the 67-30 scoring bulge in Harvard's favor. "Yeah," the other swimmer muttered. "I wish they would send them all back where they came from."