Amidst the excitement generated by the new corps of human hydroplanes who inhabit the IAB this year, one man's role in rebuilding the Harvard swim program seems to have been overlooked. That man is Pete Orschiedt, who in his brief one year stint as hard coach last year managed to round up all but one of the red-hot freshmen who have thrust Harvard onto the national swimming scene this season.
This was the guy who inherited a team with the morale of Lamont regulars during reading period and the discipline of the Sex Pistols, and successfully cleaned up the mess that Ray Essick left behind when he abandoned the Crimson ship to take a more appropriate position in the AAU bureacracy.
Orschiedt stepped in at a time when Harvard's until-then heavyweight program was nearing the crisis point. The supply of superstars that flooded the school during Don Gambril's tenure was just about running out. The previous spring, in what turned out to be Essick's last meet, a mediocre Yale team had thoroughly embarrassed the cocky Crimson. That 64-49 defeat, Harvard's first in three years, reflected the less-than-exemplary attitude of a team about to sink from the weight of its own internal problems.
The changes so manifest this season began with Pete Orschiedt. "Petie," as the swimmers affectionately called him because of his age (he graduated from the University of Florida in 1970), could communicate with the team where Essick could not. He was the prototype 'good ole boy'; Southern, funny, and refreshingly frank--he once called Yale "a bunch of chickenshits."
When the much improved, highly-touted Elis invaded Cambridge for the rematch last spring, Orschiedt's emotion-crazed charges buried them somewhere in the rusty drains of the soon-topbe obscelescent IAB pool, 87-26. The Crimson then returned the next week at the Easterns to rub it in, finishing second only to untouchable Princeton.
Orschiedt then began diligently doing his recruiting homework, an effort that has paid off handsomely for the Crimson this year. Of all of Harvard's outstanding freshmen aquamen, only super-duper star Bobby Hackett was not recruited by Orschiedt (he decided to come to Cambridge only after his longtime coach Joe Bernal did so).
His top catch was Finnish Olympian Tuomo Kerola, whose 2:10.38 in the 200-yd. breaststroke is the seventh best time in the nation this year. He also snared butterfliers Dan Menichella and Campari Knoeffler and backstroke Geoff Seelen, all high-school All-Americans who have consistently gone under two minutes as the top performers in their respective events this years. Add to that crew sprinter Julian Mack and distance-man Michael Coglin, who have emerged while still in the infant stages of their college careers as two of the East's finest freestylers, and you see that Orschiedt has created a Yardling goldmine for his successor Bernal.
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