Last year at the Eastern Championships held in Providence, the Brown women's swimming team dominated the competition to capture the title.
This year, the setting has changed to Harvard's Blodgett Pool and the Bruins will have some hungry squads eager to snatch the title away from them.
Thirty teams will participate in this weekend's meet. And the way some teams have performed this year, the Bruins may go running into the woods.
Brown should have trouble retaining its title, as Harvard is expected to emerge from the meet in front.
Other teams predicted to finish near the top of the pack include Penn State, Pitt, Penn, and Princeton.
"It's not so much that Brown has gone down, but that the rest of us have gotten stronger," Harvard Coach Maura Costin Scalise said.
"The level of competition has gotten much higher," Yale Coach Frank Keefe said. "In fact, I think the top teams in the East can now compete with teams from the Southwest Conference and Southeast Conference.
The Bruins will be led by Carolyn Ryder, Aimee Montague, and Jenny Norton, each of whom won in last year's meet. The Bruins, however, are plagued by injuries and the fact that one of their top swimmers, Karen Dieffenthaller, is busy training for the Olympic Trials in Trinidad.
Another factor working against Brown is that many squads will be shaving to eliminate water resistance for the first time this year. Pitt and Brown have gone the entire season unshaven, and the times in the meet should be very fast.
"Research conducted by [Dr.] Rick Sharp [of lowa State] shows a 23-28 percent increase in speed due to shaving," Pitt Coach Dr. David Belowich said.
Belowich said that he thinks that Harvard and his arch-rival Penn State are the two favorites.
"Penn State beat us earlier this year in a very, very close meet," Belowich said. "We have a huge rivalry with Penn State that parallels any in the country."
Sophomore Denise Sonntag and junior Kristen Elias lead the Nittany Lions. In addition, Penn State's great depth should help it in the meet.
Pitt, which is also expected to be in the running, is swimming at Easterns for the first time in seven years. The Panthers, who are coming off a victory in the Big East meet, are led by Celeste Makiel, Cindy Rose, Judy Haughton, and Marion Cassidy.
Belowich said he thinks fifth-year Pitt senior Tricia Ney has a good chance to win both diving events. Ney, who has undergone complete knee construction, has already qualified for the NCAAs.
Harvard's Jenny Greene, however, took the 3-meter diving event in last year's meet, and is expected to place high in the event.
Other swimmers expected to place high in the competition include Boston University's Sybil Smith, Princeton's Darcie Eckert, Penn's Sarah Ralston, and Yale's Lisa O'Dell.
While no one can be sure what will happen over the course of the weekend, the coaches agree that the Crimson is the team to beat, especially since the Harvard swimmers will have the benefit of home-pool advantage.