On February 2, 1980, the Princeton men's swimming team came to Blodgett Pool primed, shaved down slick, and beat the Harvard aquamen. The final score was 65-48, and the disappointing loss ended a 28-meet winning streak for Coach Joe Bernal and the Crimson.
On February 5, 1983, the Harvard men's swimming team traveled to the Tigers' den. Dillon Pool in Princeton, N.J. On the line against the once-again shaved Princetonian was a 28-meet string of victories, the longest in NCAA Division I swimming.
But despite what they might tell you over in Robinson Hall, history doesn't always repeat itself. Like the Union Army at the Second Battle of Bull Run. Harvard reversed history and charged past the Tigers to keep the streak alive and kicking. The final score was, you guessed it, 65-48.
The Crimson's win was a demonstration of the aquamen's seemingly limitless depth and an extremely strategic use of their talent by Bernal against the pumped-up Princetonians. Harvard captured eight of 13 first-place finishes, but it also copped seconds in five of the eight and thirds in the other three.
Urged on by a standing-room crowd of rowdies, the Tigers jumped to an early lead, winning the 400 medley relay in a swift 3:25.72. But shaving down has its principal benefits in the short sprints, and Bernal's lineup was set to reverse the momentum the Tigers would almost certainly have after the opening relay. It worked as the Crimson rolled off three straight wins to move ahead.
With senior Captains Ted Chappell and Larry Countryman, junior Courtney Roberts, and newly arrived freshman Tim Ford. Harvard undeniably has the best distance corps in the East. Roberts and Ford got the call in the 1000 free, and they combined for a one-two finish, respectively, to get the Crimson on the scoreboard.
"We knew that whether they went ahead 7-0 after the relay, we were going to stay in control," Roberts said yesterday.
With Ford, who arrived from Australia only two weeks ago, relieving Chappell from duty in the distance events in dual meets, the senior All-American took the opportunity to take command in the 200 free. Chappell won the event convincingly in 1:40.96, demonstrating again his reliability in crucial events.
Sophomore Bob Hrabchak and senior Jim Carbone followed with a sweep in the 50 free, churning to 21.53 and 21.68 clockings, respectively.
But the Tigers staged a comeback of their own, winning the 200 individual medley, the 200 fly and the 100 free. Princeton's success was aided by the absence of Chappell in the fly. Bernal's most suspect tactical move of the afternoon. The Crimson's mentor sacrificed the boost the Tigers would get from grabbing several events in a row to role the Tigers of the psychological lift of heating the tired Harvard captain in his best event.
At the Eastern Championships in March. Chappell walked away with the event, with Princeton's Mark Beisler taking a distant second. But shaving down might have balanced the race, Bernal seemingly thought so, and Chappell anchored the final 400 free relay.
Junior Julian Bott ended the figers' streak with a clutch win in the 200 back, edging Princeton's Dan Moore by .35 seconds.
In diving, sophomore All-American Dan Watson led a Harvard sweep on both the one-meter and three-meter boards, bouncing to scores of 372.60 and 408.45, respectively. Those marks broke his own University seconds, and the three-meter score broke a Dillon Pool record that had stood for seven years.
Princeton was the toughest opponent lift on Harvard's Eastern intercollegiate Swimming League schedule. The win leaves the Crimson at 6-0, with very title chance for a loss and almost certainly its sixth consecutive dual meet championship.