Starting today, Blodgett Pool will be a beehive of activity as swimmers from colleges across the nation stride in to meet the challenge of the Harvard men's and women's swimming teams in the Harvard Invitational.
The tournament starts with preliminary races today at 10 a.m. and finals at 6 p.m. Tomorrow, a second set of preliminary races will begin and end at the same time. Sunday's schedule is yet to be determined.
The men will face Yale, Penn State, Villanova, Syracuse. The women will also face Yale, Villanova and Syracuse as well as Indiana.
For the men's team, the Harvard Invitational is the first real step forward the season has to offer.
"This is an important step for the men's team," Assistant Coach David Flocco said. "We need to see tough swimming, race smart, and be mentally focused."
The men have a number of strong swimmers to watch. Junior Tim Carver in backstroke and co-captain Richard Ou in breaststroke are expected to fare well. In addition, the team has high hopes for senior diver Craig Narveson and local favorite Rick Osterberg (Newton, Mass.) in the middle distance freestyle.
"They will be in the top three in their events," Flocco predicted flatly.
The team faces stiff competition from all sides, but Ivy rival Yale will be the toughest test for Harvard.
"They'll be our toughest competitor," Flocco said. "They have a lot of depth and good swimmers."
Yale swimmers to watch are Jason Rosenbaum, perhaps their best swimmer in sprint events, and Adam Vann, a strong distance swimmer.
Penn State, a Big-10 Powerhouse, will also pose a strong challenge to Harvard. The team features two freshman phenoms: Sean Anderson, a freestyler and backstroker, was the Connecticut state champion in those events, and Alex Kumha, out of Sudbury, Mass., is a speedy individual medley swimmer.
The Nittany Lions will also put pressure the Crimson's diving squad.
"The have the strongest diving corps at the meet," Flocco said.
Syracuse, an up-and coming team, will feature backstroker Jamie Secor and butterfly specialist Sebastian Goulet.