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While you sit there drinking your orange juice and getting nauseous over the scrambled eggs running inexorably off your plate onto the floor, the coach of the Harvard women's swim team is sitting down to dinner somewhere in Leningrad.

That's right, Stephanie Walsh is in Russia. No, she's not there recruiting Soviet swimmers for her team. She's there as the assistant manager of a U.S. swim team competing this week in the International Newspaper Swim Meet, sponsored by the Soviet Communist Party newspaper Pravda.

The five-day meet will run through March 25 and features swimmers from the United States and ten Eastern European countries--and Stephanie Walsh will be a part of it all.

The position of assistant manager may sound trivial, but don't jump to conclusions. Even to be considered for such a position on an international trip, one must have a great deal of swimming experience and be closely involved with the AAU swimming program.

It All Started at Four

Well, you want to talk about experience and involvement, so let's talk about "Steffie," as Walsh is known to her friends--you'll see why she got the job.

At age four, Walsh kicked-off her career by learning how to swim. At age seven she began swimming competitively and three years later she started swimming year-round.

The oldest of 15 children, Walsh got her first serious swimming experience with the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia. Under the tutelage of her coach, Mary Freeman Kelly, Walsh accumulated a long list of accolades.

Stephanie Walsh

Eight times in national meets she finished in the top six in butterfly events. Six times, she ranked in the top 20 in the world for women in either the 400-meter individual medley, or the 100-or 200-meter butterfly. Walsh's best ranking came in 1966 when she was listed eighth in the world in the 200-meter butterfly.

But swimmers do not continue to swim competitively forever. The exhausting regimen, which involves swimming 10,000-15,000 yards a day is rigorous for anyone. So after training year-round for 11 of her 21 years, Walsh retired from this taxing routine.

"I was 21, and I wanted to start coaching. But you cannot coach and be paid for it while still swimming in amateur meets, so I gave up the competition," Walsh said yesterday. "But I love swimming, and I have continued to swim."

However, she now swims a closer-to-mortal 10,000 yards a week.

In 1975, Walsh applied for the job she now holds and topped a list of approximately 75 applicants. She recalled yesterday that she accepted the position with confidence that she could "do a really good job."

In addition to coaching here, Walsh has maintained her ties with the AAU, working occasionally as an official and scorer for the organization. And she said she has higher aspirations in the world of swimming.

"I'm very goal-oriented," she said, "and my major goal is to have some impact on women's athletics." She added that she could move toward accomplishing this goal by someday working in what she calls her "ideal position."

"I'd like to be both an athletic director and a swim coach at the same time," Walsh said, "and in that way I could continue to work directly with the athletes while having a hand in policy decisions." She added that she believes keeping contact with athletes is "very important," and by combining this interaction with the administrative job, she said she could get an "overall view of athletics."

Move Over, Jimmy

Walsh has one additional dream: "I want to be the women's Olympic swim coach someday," she said. "But that's like little kids saying they want to be president."

"Well, perhaps this trip to the Soviet Union, certainly a reflection of her swimming and coaching accomplishments so far, is a small step along the road to the "presidency."

For the past two years, the same member of the Harvard men's swim team has won the Eugene Wyman Trophy, an award given to the highest individual point scorer on the team.

This repeater, Paco Canales, has worked ten long years to develop the talent that has helped him score points consistently for Harvard. His efforts have earned him a position on Puerto Rico's Latin Cup team; and in this role he will leave tomorrow for Rome to compete in the two-day event.

Paco Canales

Canales said yesterday his career started "by accident," explaining that he began swimming after his brother injured a tendon in his foot. "He had to swim to exercise the foot," Canales explained, "so I swam with him to keep him company."

But that fluke start has sprouted into a successful aquatic career for the native of Guay Nabo, P.R. After competing in several AAU meets, Canales joined the Caparia Country Club under the coach Tom Forte. (The Caparia is the same club and Forte the same coach that Jane Fayer currently swims for during her vacations.)

Canales's first major win came at the 1968 Central American Games, when he was competing in the ten-and-under age group. In that meet, Canales grabbed a silver medal in the 200-meter individual medley.

Since that childhood triumph, he has climbed to more impressive heights. Last year in Montreal, he swam for the Puerto Rican Olympic team, and although he failed to qualify for the finals, he set Puerto Rican national records in both the 200-and 400-meter freestyle swims. He has also joined the Puerto Rican team three more times for competition in the Central American Games.

In 1974, Paco brought home six medals--three silver and three bronze--for Puerto Rico in international competition.

Perhaps the most suggestive anecdote about Canales's talent is his able handling of a situation he faced as a senior on his high school swim team. Canales explained, "The team had no coach as the season approached, and the school did not have time to select one, so since I was already the captain, they had me coach the team as well."

But since those high school years and thanks in part to his years in the Harvard swimming program, Canales said, his attitude has changed markedly. "In high school," he said, "my attitude was an individual one." His teammates were similarly concerned with their times and their finishes, "not with how the team fared," he added.

"But when I came to Harvard," Canales said, "I became a dual-meet swimmer. The Quincy House resident said he stopped being so concerned with his times and finishes and worried more about what he had to do to help the team triumph.

Crowd Naps, Canales Swims

Canales swims the non-glamorous long-distance events, those in which spectators pay little attention to the pool until the referee's gun awakens them to declare the beginning of the final lap. But Canales is a master of those distance battles, the fight against what he said is your body's "desire to just quit."

Canales is Harvard's top distance swimmer, and in Rome, he will swim the 400-meter individual medley, the mile, and two relays.

The road to victory in these long events is not an easy one, Canales said. At Harvard he swims about 7000 yards a day, boosting that level to 12,000-13,000 a day during his training in Puerto Rico over the Christmas vacation.

"Sometimes I don't know why I just continue to go back and forth in the pool," he said, "but in retrospect, I can honestly say that I have gotten a great deal out of swimming."

"An experience like the Olympics is a good example of what I have gained from swimming." Canales explained. He said he found it hard to believe he was in Montreal, "with the best athletes in the world. The kids would see you in a sweatsuit and come running for your autograph. You just had to be there to believe it all."

This week in Rome, Canales will again be mingling with some of the stars of the international swimming world. In his first Latin Cup he is unsure what his fate will be. "If I win a medal, I will be very happy," he said.

If not, the international competition will still be another valuable addition to Canales's swimming career.

What can you say about a Harvard freshman who has been swimming for only two and one-half years but has already competed in the Olympics, Latin Cup and Pan American games?

Basically, you can't say enough, but you must admit that the accomplishments are incredible, unbelievable, remarkable, astounding...

Jane Fayer

Well, regardless of what adjective you choose, Jane Fayer deserves high praise for accomplishing these feats. She will be leaving for Rome tomorrow to compete in the 1977 Latin Cup Swim Meet, representing her home nation, Puerto Rico, and this year she thinks she has a shot at a medal. In the meet, she will swim in the 100-meter freestyle and as a member of two relay teams.

"If I do my best times," Fayer said yesterday, "I should be in the middle or top of the 100-meter freestyle."

To accomplish what Fayer has, most people would have needed many more years of training. However, the Grays Hall resident is one of those fortunate owners of sprawling natural talent. But that talent had to be developed. Fayer said her first coach, the head of a club team in Puerto Rico, began fine-tuning her ability by starting her in competitive swimming. "He motivated me to take swimming seriously by telling me that I had a chance to go places and do really well."

Returning to the South

During the school year Fayer lived in Pennsylvania, attending the Baldwin School in Bryn Mawr. But during vacations and summers, she returned to Puerto Rico to do her heavy training under the club coach's direction. She swam a total of 13,000-14,000 yards in those "two-a-day" training sessions.

Fayer has continued these vacation work-outs in Puerto Rico, but she said Harvard's program has helped her because she can swim every day here. She added, "The continual swimming has helped to build up my endurance, the part of my swimming that is the weakest."

Fayer may be short in the endurance department, but she is certainly not lacking speed--she's a natural sprinter. Her "instinctive quickness" blossomed from the start. After swimming seriously for just six months, she said, she had beaten most of the people in Puerto Rico who had "been swimming for years."

But this created problems, she said, "because it didn't seem fair that I should just come along and win so consistently."

However, Fayer added that her quick success was largely a bad reflection on the Puerto Rican women's swimming program. She said, "Puerto Rico's program for women was quite poor, and as a result, many of the swimmers quit by the time they were 16. I came in at a time when many of the women were quitting."


That propitious timing may have helped Fayer win recognition, but it certainly was not the only reason for her success. Her recently completed season here has proved she is extremely talented.

In dual meet competition, Fayer did not drop an individual event in the Yale contest. She also won a gold medal in the Eastern Championships with a time of 25.5 in the 50-yard freestyle.

But despite this success, Fayer said she is disappointed with her season because she failed to qualify for the Nationals. "Next year I will definitely make the Nationals," she declared. "With the new pool and fewer injuries, I should have faster times next season."

In addition to missing the Nationals, Fayer ran into one other problem this season--psych. She said, "I had difficulty getting psyched for all the little dual meets because I had never swum in so many small meets before."

Ides of March, Plus Ten

In Puerto Rico, a swimmer trains only for the infrequent big events such as the Olympic and Pan American trials. Consequently, Fayer said she did not have to push herself at home; she merely "did what had to be done in order to win." This helps explain her inability to gain qualifying times for the Nationals.

But fast times should not be a problem for Fayer when March 25, the opening day of the Latin Cup, rolls around. Competing against top swimmers from eight nations, Fayer will have to swim her hardest to place well.

Only her best will be enough to win. It's hard work, but who can complain about spending spring vacation in Rome?

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