The Harvard men's swimming team entered the U.S. Military Academy's Olympic Natatonum Saturday with the same strategy the U.S. Army hoped would work in the rice saddles of Southeast Asia winning with superior tire power. The Crimson though had the muscle to finish what it started edging the Cadets, 57-56.
Despite the one point margin of victory, the meet was no Firelight Returning to the pool where they won their fifth consecutive Eastern Seaboard Championships last March, the aqua men did exactly what they had to do to get the magical 57 points that guarantee a dual meet win No more, no less.
The victory leaves Harvard's record in the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League unblemished at 3-0. Also still alive and kicking is the Crimson's dual meet winning streak, now at 25 and currently the longest in NCAA Division I swimming.
Army charged to an early lead, nipping the aqua men at the wall in the opening 400 medley relay. So as not to be embarrassed, Harvard came back in the 1000 free with a testimony to Coach Joe Bernal's training program led by senior Captain led Chappell. Harvard captured the top tour spots in the distance event.
After trading first place finishes, the Crimson picked up some hetty points when its divers led by sophomore. All American Dan Watson, swept both the one and three-meter events.
Going into the 500 free in the second half of the meet, the Cadets were still close enough to pull out a win with strong performances from their talented back stroke corps. To quash any Army hopes of a late surge. Bernal selected two of his biggest guns. Chappell and senior Captain Larry Countryman, for the middle distance race. The co-captains clinched the meet with a one-two finish, as Chappell claimed his second victory of the afternoon.
As expected, Army gained ground in the 200 back by holding junior Julian Bott to a second place finish. But when freshman Brian Jaffey dove in for the 200 breast, his mission was simple avoid disqualification, and by doing so give Harvard the point it needed to reach 57.
The Cadets struck out for pride's sake, touching out the Crimson in the 400 free relay, but the war had been won in previous battles.
The slim win was the second in two weekends, for the aqua men, who nipped Columbia, 57-55, a week ago. But the close calls have not been a source of concern, and Harvard only entered its best line-up in selected events against the Cadets.
"We've approached the whole season differently," explained senior Tom Verdin. "We're not resting for these dual meets."
But the burden of maintaining the winning streak has not been bothersome, despite the tougher training regimen, Verdin said. "We weren't really concerned [against Army]. After the 200 back, we just said, 'This is what we have to do to win this thing."