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You've got to be kidding, right? Princeton always beats Harvard.
Not this time.
Last Saturday afternoon, the Harvard men's swim team broke a six-year jinx and ruined Princeton's perfect Ivy league record at Blodgett Pool. And the there was no doubt about the outcome, either-the Tigers were denied a single victory in all of the swimming events in their 75-38 thrashing at the hands of the Crimson.
The win vaulted Harvard (4-2 overall, 3-1 Ivy) to a tie with Princeton for second place in the Ivy League behind undefeated Columbia. It also left Princeton Coach Rob Orr flabbergasted: "I don't believe that in my history here Princeton has ever not won a swimming event."
"These are always great meets," Harvard coach Joe Bernal remarked afterwards. "They are rarely won by such a large margin."
But the fact remains: Harvard blew Princetonaway, much to the yelping delight of thenear-capacity crowd at Blodgett.
The spectacle began with an unexpected Crimsonvictory in 400-yd. medley relay.
"I don't think they ever expected to lose themedley," Harvard Co-Captain Ken Johnson said.
But lose it they did, as the Harvard quartetcame within a second of qualifying for the NCAAchampionships. The uppset not only shocked theTiger team but gave the crowd a satisfyingoverture to what was to become a stirringperformance.
"The big crowd and the band really helped us,"Johnson later said. "Fans can have an effect onthe meet. They rub it in when you lose."
Harvard's 1-2 finish in the next two racesdidn't lessen he crowd's roars. In the 200-Mfreestyle, sophomore Tom Peterson beat teammateKevin Williams and Princeton star Mike Ross. Bothwere NCAA qualifiers last year.
"Tommie Peterson brought the house down,"Bernal said.
Williams--and the other Crimsonswimmers--didn't let up.
"In past years when we were ahead, the attitudewas that 'I don't have to win my event,'" Johnsonsaid. "But today, we just built on our victories.The more we won, the more we wanted to win."
"This is a team of terrific character," juniorGreg Tull said.
Ah yes, Greg Tull. His victories over Princetonsprint specialist Eric Osborn whetted theteam's--and the crowd's--appetite for more.
"Greg Tull was absolutely outstanding," Bernalsaid. "He won the events that Eric Osborn hasdominated for the past few years."
Princeton's Osborn, the meet record-holder forthe 50-meter freestyle and a perennial shoo-in inthe 100-meter, took the early lead in both races.
All Tull could do was swim strongly and hopethat Osborn would fade.
"The last time I beat Eric was in high school,"Tull said. "Nobody's beaten him in a long time."
But Tull came through with awesome efforts inboth races. In the 100-meter freestyle, he edgedOsborn by .07 seconds.
Tull wasn't the only one with the heroicbilling. In the 200-M backstroke, Harvard's PaulWatson dominated the field and swam for a berth inthe NCAA's.
He got it, with a time of 1:48.6--more than asecond below the NCAA qualifying mark.
"It was the best meet of my life," Watson said.
And not only for Watson, it seemed. Everyonepulled for each other in this baby. Everyonewanted to win for the team.
And this is a real team in every sense of theword. You could see it in the way they stayedtogether, cheered each other on, evenstretched together.
"The team is definitely beginning to gel,"Bernal said. "They are showing more maturity."
And after it was all over, they threw ajubilant Coach Bernal into the pool.
"Right now we're on cloud nine," Johnson said
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