Cornell Swims Past Aquamen 62-51; First Crimson Lossto Red in 73 Years
The last time the Cornell men's swimming team defeated Harvard in a dual meet, none of the current Big Red swimmers were alive.
Neither were their parents.
Or their grandparents.
But Saturday at Teagle Hall in Ithaca, N.Y., the high-flying Big Red, inspired by 600 faithful rooters, broke a 73-year drought by defeating Harvard, 62-51.
The meet marked the second consecutive loss for the Crimson (7-2 overall, 5-2 EISL) and the first time since 1913 that the Cornell aquamen (8-1, 6-1) had defeated Harvard in swimming competition.
Following last week's 59-54 loss to Princeton, the Harvard men's swimming team knew what it had to do in order to finish its season on a high note.
The Crimson had to win its final three dual meets of the season against Cornell, Pennsylvania and Yale in order to gain the momentum needed to capture its eighth consecutive Eastern Seaboard Championship three weeks from now.
That was the plan.
But somebody forgot to tell Cornell.
The Big Red led by as many as 18 points during the meet. Harvard made a comeback attempt in the contest's last moments, closing to 55-51, but, like in the Princeton meet, the Crimson could not capture the final event, the 400-yd. freestyle relay, which would have given it the win.
Harvard Assistant Coach John Trites gave nothing but praise to the Big Red, but also defended his team's ability to finish up the season in a winning fashion.
"Cornell deserves all the credit in the world, because the team swam over their heads all afternoon," said Trites. "On the other hand, our season is not over. The primary goal of this team always has been to win at the Eastern Championships, and it remains so despite the setbacks."
The Crimson was hurt most in a five-event stretch in which it lost every event. In that period, Cornell showed its domination of the sprint freestyle races when the Big Red took first and second in both the 50 and 100 freestyle events, paced by Randy Sprout's first-place showing in both.
Despite the defeat, Harvard swimmers managed to shatter five Cornell pool records and one school mark, setting a record in every event that the team won.
Scott Hoy bettered both Harvard and pool marks while winning the 200 breaststroke with a time of 2:06.33. David Berkoff also set a pool record in the 200 backstroke in a victorious time of 1:52.85.
Co-Captain Peter Egan captured a record with his pool best time of 1:41.88 in the 200 freestyle. John Pearson earned the final Teagle Hall individual record with his 500 freestyle time of 4:34.50.
In addition, the relay team of Berkoff, Hoy, Egan and John Ritch set a pool best of 3:26.50 in the 400 medley relay.
While the loss drops the Crimson to third place in the EISL standings, it by no means diminishes its chances at Easterns, held at Blodgett Pool on March 6-8.
First, however, the squad must take on a pesky Pennsylvania team on Saturday at Blodgett and then travel to New Haven the following week for its final dual meet of the year against Yale.