The Harvard swimming team concludes a long and highly successful season this weekend in Knoxville, Tenn., at the NCAA Swimming and Diving Championships, with an excellent chance of bettering last year's performance at the three-day meet which starts today.
The eight-man Crimson contingent, the same swimmers who accounted for all of Harvard's 240 third-place points at the Easterns ten days ago, have limited scoring potential but should easily top last year's total of two points. Indiana, which has dominated the college swimming ranks for the last five seasons, is heavily favored to take its sixth straight title.
Traditionally, Eastern teams--with the exception of Yale--have faired poorly in national competition against such aquatic powers as the Hoosiers and the West Coast schools. Southern Cal, Stanford and UCLA. Recently, however, the Ivy schools have begun to make slight inroads, surprising the swimming establishment by sweeping both backstroke races and the 1-meter dive at the nationals last March.
The continued improvement of Eastern swimming in general vis-a-vis Indiana, etcetera, and the rise of Harvard swimming in particular since the arrival of Don Gambril from Long Beach is graphically illustrated in the final national rankings released last week by Swimming World.
Harvard swimmers, or relays, are ranked among the top ten seven times, and in the top twenty an impressive ten times. Despite the fact that the Crimson probably won't improve their times substantially--while the top swimmers at the NCAA's will--the presence of Harvard, Penn, Princeton and Yale on the final charts indicates a bright future for Eastern swimming on the national level.
Several Harvard swimmers have good chances of scoring at the nationals, if they can respond to the competition and somehow come up with a few more superlative efforts. Two, in particular, should score if they continue to swim well.
Tim Neville, who had an excellent undefeated dual meet season in the 50-yd. free and came on near the end of the winter in the 100-yd. free, is ranked sixth and fourth respectively in the two events. Neville will need a sub-21-second performance in the 50-yd. free to score, but he should be able to shave a few tenths off his school record time of 21.21.
In the 100-yd. free, which Swimming World described as "wide open," Neville's 46.37 is only fractions off Charlie Campbell's first-place time of 46.12 which the Princeton star recorded in beating Neville at the Easterns. With the graduation of Dave Edgar and Mark Spitz, the two fastest 100 men in history, Neville could make the finals in the event but he will have to drop down near the 45.6 or 45.7 area to do so.
The Yntema Special
The Crimson's top individual performer all season long, freshman Hess Yntema, continues to have the best chance for picking up points this weekend. Yntema, who remained undefeated in his specialty, the 200-yd. butterfly will a record-setting 1:52.23 winning performance at the Easterns is ranked fourth in the event, and should do extremely well.
What makes his scoring potential uncertain, however, is the fact that he has yet to shave down this season. Gambril has had Yntema on the hardest training schedule of any of his swimmers with the exception of distance freestyler Rich Baughman, and while most of the team peaked and shaved for several dual meets prior to a big effort at the Easterns, Yntema has been pointing all season toward a strong performance this weekend at the NCAA s.
Indiana's Gary Hall, who is probably eager to re-establish himself after a particularly disappointing effort at the Olympics, is the heavy favorite in both butterfly races, but Yntema could surprise by making the finals in both events. He is ranked sixth in the 100-yd. fly, with Neville ranked tenth, but the 200 seems to be Yntema's race and if he scores big it will be here
Besides Neville and Yntema, Harvard does not appear to have a great deal of scoring potential except, perhaps, in the 800-yd. free relay, which is ranked eighth behind both Penn and Princeton.
Backstroker Tom Wolf has qualified in both the 100 and 200-yd. events, but the only thing he has a chance of attaining is the University record in the 100, the only mark left from the pre-Gambril era.
Baughman, who became the sole Harvard point-scorer at last year's contest at West Point when he took an 11th in the 1650-yd. free, is hoping to break the 16-minute barrier, and he must do so to stand any chance of repeating his scoring performance.
Dave Brumwell swam a beautiful race to take second at the Easterns in the 200-yd. breast, but his 2:10.85 clocking was only good for thirteenth ranking, and it is doubtful that he will score. The 400-yd. free relay is ranked tenth, but probably won't make it to the consolations either.
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