Saturday morning the women's swim team will travel to Wellesley to take part in the season-opening Wellesley relays, and Crimson Coach Stephanie Walsh said she is looking forward to the chance to see her swimmers under-competitive conditions.
The Wellesley relays are exactly what Walsh needs right now, because the Harvard women come into 1977 with a young team and a great many question marks.
There is no doubt that the women have a wealth of talented backstroke and freestyle specialists, but the butterfly and breastroke positions are more shaky. Although Walsh has a good number of new swimmers making waves at the IAB, they have yet to prove themselves in college competition.
The doubts begin with the two strongest returning swimmers from last season, sophomores Jane Fayer and Maura Costin. Both are out of the water for now--Fayer is nursing a broken toe and Costin is battling muscle problems in her neck and back which plagued her all of last year.
Fayer expects to be back in the water this Monday, though, and she said she is getting ready. "I was really psyched and I guess I still am, but it's hard to stay psyched when you can't swim," she said.
Costin's case is a more precarious one. She is not expected to swim before Thanksgiving. "We're gonna be very strict with her and not let her in the water if her back hurts." Walsh said, "But if she takes care of herself, she'll be back in the pool...it's up to her," Swimming with pain and strain much of last season, Costin had to miss a number of meets and never healed completely.
Costin's absence leaves a hole in the medley relay, the butterfly and the freestyle relay, but Walsh has some other guns with which to do battle.
Returners Mary Ellen Mangano and Sharon Beckman also add some consistent veteran experience to the team. Mangano in the freestyle sprints and Beckman in the longer races and the Individual Medley.
Perhaps the biggest boost to the team will be the reappearance of Laurie Downey. After taking last year off from both swimming and school. Downey returns as a talented swimmer holding seven Harvard records in backstroke, freestyle and Individual Medley events. The versatile junior will figure heavily in the Harvard scheme.
Among the talented freshmen brought in by Walsh and her assistant coach Paula Newman, Liz Kelly and Katie Kelley (no relation, note the spelling difference) figure to provide the women with some extra punch.
Kelley has many years of swimming experience from her career with the Vesper Boat Club in Philadelphia, where she swam under Pennsylvania coach Bream. Walsh looks forward to using her as a freestyler and a fill-in for the questionable breaststroke ranks.
Kelley, a freestyler/backstroker from Milwaukee, is also showing promise as a swift Crimson racer. Look for two other freshmen. Hope Lampert and Regina Stuart, to turn in some good times with backstroke and freestyle swims.
As was the case last year, breaststrokers appear in short supply, especially after one of last year's breaststrokers. Nancy Danoff, decided not to return. Butterfly without a healthy Costin will also be weak: but Beth Maber, a junior transfer student from Wellesley, should improve the breastroke situation, while sophomore Jill Vejnoska will work to fill in the fly deficiencies.
Depth is the crucial quality of this year's team that was conspicuously missing last year. With 29 swimmers, the Crimson women should be able to pull in important second-and third-place points that eluded them last year and accounted for the lessthan-stellar 5-4 record.
The most dramatic difference will come in diving, though. Last season. John Walker had only one diver, Sue Abkowitz. who just picked up diving two weeks into the season to fill the gaping hole in the team's roster. This year, Walker has five women working the board and he said, "If we can't beat 'em in quality, we'll beat 'em in depth."
The divers do not have a great deal of experience, but Walker said with work he is confident they can do well.
Freshman Peri Ozkum is the team's most experienced diver, with five years of diving behind her, and Walker looks to her as his top diver.
Sophomores Emily Rothrock and Abkowitz have less experience, but Walker is encouraged by their progress. A third sophomore, Mollye Munch, also comes in with some diving background, and if she can avoid further injury, she should be able to help the team. Munch missed all of last season due to various illnesses. So far this season, she has already been injured twice; but she is currently healthy and getting back on the board.
Co-captain Landefeld, turning from her backstroking efforts of last year to the springboard, rounds out the diving squad.
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