Jane Fayer was psyched.
The Harvard women's swim team had superb potential for the 1978-79 season, and Blodgett Pool was teeming with optimism--even a type of haughty confidence. Fayer, a seasoned Crimson star, sported as much enthusiasm as anyone on the team.
But that was three months ago, when the winter season was not yet underway. Those were happy times, before fate and the complexities of the world of scholar-athletes dealt a crippling blow to women's swimming.
Now, in the middle of the season, with the women floundering at 1-7, Walsh and her charges are in New Haven, Conn., awaiting this morning's start of the 1979 Ivy Women's Swimming Championships. But Harvard's hopes at historic Kiputh Exhibition Pool are considerably dimmer than they were in November, no thanks to four unfortunate happenings.
Fayer's situation is typical of the season's sad saga.
"When we started training I began doing Nautilus intensely," she said yesterday. "I was in better shape than I'd ever been at Harvard. Then my arm died."
Battling tendonitis and a shoulder separation, Fayer worked on curing her tendonitis, but the separation worsened. Now, with a severely separated shoulder joint, Fayer has to sit out the rest of the season with the prospect of April surgery looming as a final corrective measure.
But Fayer's not the only top-notch swimmer the Crimson's lost. In fact, the entire four-women contingent that made-up last year's Ivy Champion relay squad is gone.
Senior Laurie Downey, after returning from a year off to enjoy a superb junior season, has given up swimming to pursue her honors thesis and a work apprenticeship.
Sophomore Sherry Lubbers gave up the sport for other interests and a time consuming Chinese language course. "I just got very tired of swimming," she said yesterday.
And 1977-78 freshman sensation Liz Kelly left Blodgett because of personal problems, completing the exodus of the supremely talented quartet.
What's left is an up and coming team with major inconsistencies and a severe depth problem. Injury-plagued Maura Costin has finally returned to regular duties this year, but she's not yet up to her full potential.
Freshman Adele Joel and first-year diver Pam Stone have been the most consistently fast times against Princeton last week, including the medley relay Senior stalwart Sharon Beckman has been plagued by illness, and Emily Feldman and Julie McAree are on their way up--but they're not quite there yet.
In addition, as Walsh said yesterday, many of her swimmers are new to competitive swimming or have been away from the sport for at least a year.
The situation leaves the women's swimming program in a semi-rebuilding state. There is talent on the team, but the women desperately need time to regain--and in some cases reach for the first time--their full potential.
Despite its dismal record, the squad has improved. The women turned in consistently fast times against Princeton last week, including the medley relay team's 4:18.4 time to qualify for the Nationals (Feldman, Joel, McAree and Costin).
But with the small and swift Princeton team, a deep and talented Brown squad, and a perennially solid Yale group, Harvard's weekend at the three-day Ivies could be a long one.
Walsh picked it this way yesterday:
1-Princeton; 2-Brown or Yale with Brown as an "outside smoker"; 4-Dartmouth; 5-Harvard; 6-Penn; 7-Barnard, and Cornell remaining the big question mark which could upset everything.
Well, Jane Fayer WAS psyched.