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CLEVELAND, Ohio--Bobby Hackett knocked four seconds off his personal best time to finish second in the 500-yd. freestyle (4:19.41) and boost the Crimson to 12th place after the first day of competition in the NCAA Championships here yesterday.
California schools held the top three positions at day's end with the University of California at Berkeley riding the crest of an American record performance in the 400-yd. medley relay (3:15.22) to seize the team lead with 82 points.
USC ranks second (77), and UCLA third (62). Last year's champ, Tennessee, stands fifth (59).
Exhibiting no ill effects from his recent bout with the flu, Hackett led the race for 150 yards before defending champion Brian Goodell assumed command.
Goodell simply outshined Hackett and the rest of the field and steadily increased his lead to about two body lengths by the finish. The UCLA sophomore's time (4:16.43) broke the NCAA record and was only three-hundredths off his own American record. Hackett easily shattered his own Harvard record.
"We would have liked Bobby to have gone out a little faster and put pressure on Goodell early in the race, but how can I complain?" Harvard coach Joe Bernal said afterwards. "Four seconds better than he's ever done, swimmers of his caliber just don't do that," he added.
Senior Jamie Greacen, diving in his fourth consecutive NCAA meet, saved his best performance for last as he finished 14th in the one-meter event, only three points away from 12th place and All-American status.
"Greacen was super consistent today, and that's what you have to do to be in contention in a meet like this," diving, coach John Walker said. "The field in this contest was at least as good as any in recent years."
Greacen surpassed all the other divers in the Eastern region, including Cornell's Paul Steck, who captured both boards at Easterns and placed tenth at NCAAs last year.
"Three points away from being All-American was a great way to go," Greacen said later about his final Harvard appearance.
Greacen will dive next week in a national AAU qualifying meet at the University of Minnesota.
Malcolm Cooper, seeking to better his 11th place finish in 1978, had a poor start and simply couldn't recover in the 50-yd. freestyle.
There were complaints voiced around the pool that the starter consistently did not hold the swimmers long enough in the "take your marks" position. This problem would be particularly detrimental to Cooper, who relies on a strong, high push to initiate his pike-dive start.
Although Cooper's time (21.03) would have won the Easterns, the NCAAs are a different level of competition.
Mike Coglin, swimming the 200-yd. individual medley, could not repeat his Eastern record-shattering performance of three weeks ago and failed to qualify for the finals in the event.
The Crimson's current 12th place standing is better than most expected, considering that Harvard's two best days are yet to come.
Hackett is a strong candidate to win the 200-yd. freestyle because his shorter distance swimming has improved considerably in recent years. His improvement culminated in his phenomenal 200-meter relay split on the world record-breaking United States national 800-meter relay team this past summer.
CRIMSON SPLASHES: Princeton coach Bill Farley received an offer from his alma mater, the University of Michigan, to take over the head coaching duties there next year. He said yesterday he will "probably take it," but will visit Ann Arbor next week to "get the offer in writing."
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