Harvard men's swimming coach Joe Bernal's recruiting net, its bait sweetened by January's completion of Blodgett Pool and by the aquamen's outstanding record last season, has harvested a crop of freshmen fish rivaled in Harvard history only by 1977's record haul.
While this year's yardling group contains no one of Olympic shark Bobby Hackett's stature, newcomers Ron Raikula and Tim Maximoff qualify for at least dolphin status.
Raikula's eighth-place finish in August's National AAU 400-meter Individual Medley championship earned him the 16th position in the 1978 world rankings and a position on the United States squad which traveled to Montreal for a dual meet with the Canadian national team two weeks later.
Maximoff was also a national finalist this past summer. The Los Altos, Calif. native grabbed 12th place in the gruelling 1500-meter freestyle event in a time (15:52) which could well place him, too, on the world best-time list.
Bernal landed an abundance of distance swimming talent, trolling the continent for high school All-Americans Phil Atkinson and Jack Gauthier as well as Canadian standout Chris Hancock.
Atkinson is a national Junior Olympic record holder (1500-meter freestyle), while Braintree-native Gauthier and 6-ft., 4-in. Ottawa barracuda Hancock both have competed in their respective national championships.
Bunch of Fish
The rookie breaststroke school should be led by prep school All-American Tom Royal and Connecticut state champion Pat Jakobsen. Lee Menichella, another prep star, and Mike Barnes, fresh from the Mission Viejo Nadadores, this country's top AAU club, are expected to contribute to Harvard's formidable backstroke crew, "the backpack." Dallas native Drew Carson is a sprint-freestyle specialist.
Diving coach John Walker added two inexperienced, but enthusiastic aerialists. Jonathan Rabinovitz and Jon Monderer both are potential future point-scorers if their desire and commitment continue.
Quite a catch for anglers Bernal and assistant coach Jack Ryan.
Keep the nets ready; this is the year we bag Princeton's Tigers.