"Hello? Mr. Bernal? This is your wake-up call. It's just about February 3rd. It's time to wake your team up and go to Princeton."
After sleepily walking over its first six flimsy opponents, the Harvard swim team must waken this weekend for the real challenge--its only one of the dual meet season--The Showdown at Princeton
How good is Harvard? How good is Princeton? It's well-nigh impossible to tell since neither team has yet faced anything remotely resembling competition (except for Princeton's pre-season meet with Alabama). But we certainly should find out this weekend.
The Tigers have lost four of their last five dual meet encounters with the Crimson--including last year's 58-55 thriller on Blodgett Pool's opening day--but have still bounced back to grab the Eastern Championship meet from Harvard every time.
Both teams have improved significantly over last season. Coach Joe Bernal's Crimson, aware of the incredible depth that has brought the Tigers six straight Eastern crowns, has fortified its strengths (distance freestyle, individual medley) with the addition of freshmen high school all-Americans Tim Maximoff and Jack Gauthier. Harvard's second year mentor also made up for the loss of last year's standout captain Duncan Pyle by lassoeing national-caliber backstroker Ron Raikula for inclusion in Harvard's historic "Back Pack".
The Tigers could have some extra incentive to avenge the events of exactly one year ago--rumors have been flying around that the resident wizard of Dillon Natatorium, coach Bill Farley, may depart for the University of Michigan at season's end. The men in the orange and black would certainly love to cap his brilliant stay at Old Nassau with an undefeated slate.
Farley's top recruits include the Peddie School's Ron Cummins, who has gone 1:55 in the individual medley and could challenge Raikula in the backstroke.
Tiger stalwarts Bill Specht (Eastern champion butterflier), John Christensen (ditto for breaststroke), and Andy "Beaver" O'Hara, the man who outsprinted Bobby Hackett in the final leg of the 400-yd. freestyle relay to win the Easterns for the Tigers last March, will lead the defense of their home fortress.
The invading Crimson, although weak in the breaststroke events since the premature departure of Tuomo Kerola, have some flexible talent in Hackett, sophomore standout Mike Coglin, and Maximoff, which leaves room for strategy in the butterfly, IM, and freestyle events. Jamie Greacen and Steve Schramm can be counted on to provide a huge boost in the diving, and Malcolm Cooper and recently returned Julian Mack will have to hold down the sprints.