Harvard-Princeton swim meets in recent years have been dogfights. In five of the last six years, the winner has finished the season as the undefeated Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League (EISL) champion. Almost every battle has been dicided by fewer than a dozen points.
Harvard has won five of those six dual meets, but until last year Princeton's depth proved superior in the Eastern Championships.
This year the situation is somewhat different. Barring tragedy or a miraculous performance by the Tigers at the Easterns, the Crimson's loaded stable will run away from the competition there. But in dual meets the collegiate scoring system (five points for first, three for second, one for third) emphasizes the importance of the performances of a few individuals, making possible the upset of a strong team by a weaker one whose starts come through in the critical events.
Basically, this emphasis provides Princeton with its only chance when the Tigers invade Blodgett Pool at noon today. Harvard has more national caliber swimmers than the Tigers (the Crimson boasts 11 national qualifiers, Princeton five), but the matchups of the potential heroes are such that, if Princeton's aces were to win each of their duals, the Tigers could eke out a win. If the close matches are split evenly, the Crimson will romp.
Four events, the 100- and 200-yd. freestyles, the 200 butterfly, and the 200 breaststroke, emerge as the crucial battlegrounds today.
Ron Cummins, a sophomore medleyist and distance freestyler, will face the Crimson trio of Larry Countryman, Ted Chappell, and Tim Maximoff (all of whom have recorded better times than Cummins), in the meet's second event, the 1000.
Senior former Eastern chamipion Bill Specht will have his hands full with Chappell in a classic confrontation in the 200 fly. Specht is an outstanding butterfly sprinter who builds up a lead and tries to hold on in the 200 while Chappell is known for his comeback, or "even-split" ability.
Harvard's yardling superstar, David Lundberg, will challenge two-time defending Eastern champion John Christensen and Christensen's Blodgett Pool record in the breaststroke.
Two of a Kind
The most competitive Harvard-Princeton individual rivalry will probably resume in the 200 freestyle. Tiger senior Andy Saltzman nipped Crimson Olympian Bobby Hackett in this event last year at Easterns to earn himself a tie, with Hackett, for that meet's high point trophy.
Considering that Harvard has a practically unbeatable medley relay team and that Steve Schramm and Jef Mule's excellence virtually assures the Crimson of a 14-point edge in the two diving events, Princeton must hope that each of its horses wins his events, setting up the possibility of a clinching victory in the free relay.
The chances are that Harvard will win at least its share of the critical matchups. A final score of 69-44 seems about right.