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With this weekend's Eastern Championships at West Point approaching on the horizon, the Harvard men's swimming team went through some unexpectedly rough waters last weekend.
The Crimson may have been looking ahead to the Easterns during its unanticipated loss to Yale on Saturday, 68-45.
"We were focusing more on the Eastern Championships than on this meet," Paul Watson said. "It wasn't as important to us."
Swimming in New Haven, the Crimson (6-3, 6-3 EISL) had trouble from the beginning as the Bulldogs snatched an initial win in the 400-meter medley relay. But though Harvard sophomore Tome Peterson and Co-Captain Ken Johnson quickly quieted the alumni-filled crowd in the 1000-meter freestyle by seizing first and second place, the Crimson had little success the remainder of the afternoon.
"It was a trying day," Johnson said. "After beating Princeton, we thought we'd roll over the rest of the Ivy League."
Watson, the only member of the Crimson squad to qualify for the national championships, was another of the victorious Harvardians, defeating his Yale opponent in the 200-meter backstroke.
But Harvard's best performances in the meet came from a previously unlikely source--the divers. Freshman Matt Paulson came in first in both the one-meter and three-meter events, with Crimson divers nabbing second in both events as well.
"In past years we've given up points on the boards, but the divers kept it close for us at Yale," Johnson said. "They had some outstanding performances."
But even the divers couldn't salvage the Crimson, who had apparently underestimated Yale and its intensity. The Bulldogs had shaved and tapered for the meet. While this might lead to weaker performances for the Elis in the upcoming championships, it showed Yale's determination as it refused to lose to the favored Crimson team.
But the loss hasn't diminished Harvard's confidence and concentration on the Easterns, where it anticipates it will enjoy a much higher ranking than Yale. Although the official rankings are not yet available, Princeton, the champion for the past five years, is likely to be ranked first, followed by the Crimson in second or third. Yale may not even make the top ten.
At the Easterns, the Crimson's individual swimmers like freestyler Kevin Williams and backstroker Chris Kovacs, will try to make cuts to join Watson at the nationals in Indianapolis at the end of March.
"We're really looking forward to next week," Watson said. "The loss was disappointing, but we swam pretty well, and it wasn't as important as other losses. It was just another meet."
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