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Harvard's three finalists in the Eastern swimming championships two weeks ago depart today for the NCAA tournament at Iowa State, but all three will have to take a back seat to what will probably be the most exciting championship race in NCAA history.
Four teams--Michigan, Southern California, Indiana, and Yale--are after the title, and the competition, even in a non-Olympic year, may be the best ever. Indiana is top rated because of its Big Ten championship, but the Hoosiers lost a dual meet to Michigan earlier in the season, and Southern California has lost very little from last year's NCAA championship squad.
Mahoney for Harvard
Harvard's best chance for an All-American finalist is senior Danny Mahoney, winner of both the high and low-board dives at the Easterns. Mahoney, however, is starting at a disadvantage; Indiana's five entries include Olympic three-meter diving champ Ken Sitzberger and last year's one-meter titlist, Rick Gilbert. Mahoney tries the low-board tomorrow and the high dive on Saturday.
Junior Bruce Fowler and sophomore Bob Corris, both breaststrokers, are, in Corris's words, "looking for experience." Though both were under the qualifying times needed to enter the meet, they will have to do an estimated 2:15.0 in the 200 and 1:01.5 in the 100 to reach the finals.
Harvard's Neville Hayes, who is not entering the NCAAs because of illness, had the fourth best time in the nation this year in the 200-yard butterfly.
Elis' Last Chance
Yale, headed by last year's double-winner, Steve Clark, has been shooting for the Nationals ever since they got third place in the NCAAs last year. This may be the Eli's last chance for some time to come; although they are gaining Don Schollander from their freshmen team, Yale's depth comes almost entirely from seniors like Clark, Roger Goettsche, Dale Keifer, Ed Townsend, and Dave Lyons.
Though Goettsche and Townsend give Yale strength in the backstroke and individual medley, the Bulldogs are basically a freestyle team. The Yalies are hoping that the final freestyle relay will be the deciding event. With Clark on the anchor leg, the Yalies, who are defending champions, can take anyone.
If you're betting, however, take Indiana. In addition to five of the six best divers in the country, the Hoosiers have Fred Schmidt, unquestionally the best butter-flyer in the nation, and Pete Hammer, possibly the best backstroker.
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