Harvard and Princeton, the two titans of Eastern swimming, face off on Saturday (2 p.m. at the IAB) in what should be one of the best and most exciting swim meets to take place anywhere in the country this year.
"We're going all out," Harvard coach Ray Essick said yesterday. "Our swimmers are going to go head on with Princeton's best and we're going to do everything we can to win."
The meet will feature several nationally- ranked swimmers on both teams, but will probably be decided by the other, less known aquamen.
Everyone connected with the meet concedes that Princeton's Joe Loughran will win both the 1000- and 500-yard freestyle unless he slips and breaks his leg at poolside. Likewise, Harvard's Hess Yntema is a sure winner in the 200 butterfly and could be the deciding factor in either relay.
What each team needs is to capture the crucial second-and third-place points. For instance, besides Loughran in the 1000, the Tigers will swim Rob Maass, who has gone 9:41 over the distance.
The Crimson will hope that Paco Canales (9:55) can split the two Princeton swimmers and give Harvard three points in the race rather than just one. And in a meet like this one, every single point can make a difference.
For the first time in four years, the Crimson appears to have the edge in the diving events--and that, too, could be one of the keys to the meet. For the past several years Billy Heinz from Princeton over- shadowed the competition in each meet he was in. He won all of his events as a upperclassman with almost machine-like regularity and capped off his career last spring by nabbing the diving laurels in the NCAA swimming and diving championships.
This year Harvard's rather unheralded divers, led by Dave English, could pick up many vital points. English this winter has varied only between good and excellent in the quality of his diving, while his teammates have looked strong also. Princeton does have a rather good diver, Mallott, but it remains to be seen if he is going to be a factor.
It is impossible to point to a single event as the key, since as the result of every race could determine the eventual winner of the meet, but there are several swimmers to watch. Each team has a star freshman sprinter: Alan Fine for the Tigers and Harvard's Malcom Cooper. They will probably go against each other in the relays and in the 100 free.
Hess to Nose Kone?
Princeton's Bruce Kone swam the 200 individual medley in one of the fastest times in the country this year (1:56) and a matchup with Yntema in that event could be one of the highlights of the meet.
Also look for Tiger swimmer Fred Test and the Crimson's Tim Neville to thrash it out in a very quick 50 free.
If you listen to the coaches, each team is the underdog. Tiger coach Bill Farley says that Harvard should be a 14-point favorite on the basis of the Crimson's diving superiority.
Harvard coach Essick claims this is nonsense. If you compare this season's best times for each swimmer in a hypothetical meet, he explains, Princeton would win 65-48.
Right now Essick would do anything to win, but if you were going to suggest putting a shark in the warmup pool or coloring the water Crimson, don't bother--he's already thought of it. "I put 14 bottles of red food coloring in the pool to see if it's stay red,"Essick said, "but the circulation was too good. Now everyone's probably got cancer from all that red dye number two."