Jacques Hugon: Swim Manager Carves Niche

Although Jacques Hugon's present role only requires he get wet once or twice a year--like in last Saturday's 79-34 dunking of Yale, when he appeared as guest anchorman on the Harvard divers' 400-yd. relay squad--the French-born sophomore has proven himself an invaluable asset to the Harvard men's swim team without ever scoring a point.

Hugon, who hails from Antibes, a city in southern France near the Italian border, is an integral part of the eight-man unit which manages the IL champion aquamen.

During a freshman-week meeting in 1979, where he met his classmates--one of the most talented groups of swimmers ever to don crimson colored Speedos--the modest Hugon decided to abide by an earlier decision and retire from competitive swimming.

Wanting to stay close to the sport, however, he committed himself to a time consuming role at poolside. This year Hugon and another former swimmer, Lorren Elkins '81--who toiled mostly alone last year--bolstered the managerial corps with several energetic freshmen and two graduate managers, Steve Boucher and Tom Morton, both of whom lend experience to the staff after previous tours of duty with squads at Yale and Michigan State.

Many of the tasks that fall on Hugon's shoulders invoice preparation for home meets. After volunteering several hours each week for the preliminaries, the easygoing manager then spends alternate Saturdays nursing Blodgett Pool's sensitive timing system through the meets. Already a pool legend for getting the very temperamental device to function on command, Hugon often responds to pleas to perform his magic during women's meets, intramural contests, and Masters competitions.

On the road, a manager must pay close attention to schedules and the whereabouts of each team member, as well as catering to the needs of individual swimmers. This can mean making certain a particularly sleepy swimmers responds to the wake up call, or locating a special razor for that lone team member who will shave down before the Princeton contest.

"Jacques is a terrific manager. In my four years with the team, we've never had anyone as efficient or as conscientious as Jacques," Senior co-captain Geoff Seelen says. "He never complains, no task is too big or too small. He appreciates the team and we appreciate the job he does for us."

Hugon's concern for the team stems from experience as a swimmer in a division of the Federation Francaise de Natation (FFN), near his home on the French Riviers. Participating in a program designed to integrate the sport with France's long school days, Hugon learned firsthand the rigors Harvard swimmers face in trying to mix serious studying and serious swimming.

During his equivalent of American high school years, the FFN inaugurated trial programs with a handful of schools, allowing selected student-swimmers to attend practice from 11-1 and again from 4-7, daily.

"Under the supervision of these trial programs--and I believe there are now 17 schools in all of France that permit swimming as a regular part of the schedule--a swimmer develops at a rate similar to that which seems so familiar to the U.S.," Hugon explains.

"The major difference, however, comes when athletes reach college age. Then school sports stop. In France, university officials are unwilling to believe in the principle of scholar-athletes," he said.

When the time came for Hugon to consider attending one of France's respected universities, the Currier House resident spurned the offer, choosing-instead to accept a prestigious scholarship to study at Andover for a year.

His award, from the Kemper Fund, was one of just three scholarships to study at the Massachusetts prep school given in all of France during 1978.

"At Andover Jacques was a fine swimmer in his own right. That he could come to Harvard, choose to quit swimming competitively and then make such a large time commitment to the team in his new capacity demonstrates his ability to adapt easily," former Andover classmate Andy Gilmour says.

If Hugon's swimming roots run deep--his father is the coordinator of FFN clubs on the French Riviera--his dedication to sports as a whole is even more firmly grounded.

Exposure to sports began early as he followed his father's other career of race car driving--the elder Hugon is a three time veteran of the Monte Cario.

Speed on four wheels so interested the Engineering and Applied Science concentrator that he chose the computer option, hoping to someday implement these skills into learning to design faster cars.

Until he can do that, Coach Joe Bernal has other plans for his energetic manager's preoccupation with speed. Hugon and Morton, also a computer wizard, are soon to help the staff at Blodgett create faster swimmers by setting up computer programs which can provide instantaneous statistics and analysis from the voluminous records kept on each member of the team.