Could it happen again?
Last year, the men's swimming team eked out an 83-80 upset over Harvard in the annual Harvard-Yale-Princeton Invitational to earn the Eastern Intercollegiate Swimming League dual-meet title and an undefeated season. But less than a month later, Harvard exacted revenge, outswimming the Tigers to capture the EISL Championships.
As for this season, the former portion of last year's recipe has already transpired – Princeton again earned an underdog victory in last month's H-Y-P Invitational to go undefeated for the season. The question still lingers: could it happen again?
"It's fairly possible," head coach Rob Orr said. "But we just squeaked by Harvard last year, whereas we ended up beating them a little more substantially this time around. Hopefully, that's an indicator of what will happen this weekend."
In spite of the overwhelming
114-49 victory at H-Y-Ps, Princeton still is not favored to win the EISL title this weekend, which features all 10 teams in the league. Each Ivy League team plus Army and Navy will be present when the meet begins today in West Point, N.Y. But only two teams are expected to contend for the top spot.
"Naturally we have a big rivalry with Harvard," senior distance freestyler Jason Eaddy said of the two teams that have traded the EISL championship back and forth for the last 25 years. "I think we have a big respect for each other."
Respect or no respect, don't expect this meet to be anything but an all-out battle.
"It's really going to come down to whether (Harvard is) ready to swim," senior breaststroker Davin Quinn said. "After H-Y-Ps, they'll be out for revenge and looking to score big."
In contrast to the H-Y-P meet, in which Harvard swimmers were the top seeds in every event, the top times are more evenly distributed between the two teams this time around.
With fiercer competition entering the meet, the Tigers seem more calm than they did before H-Y-Ps. No sense of doubt is enshrouded in this tranquility; instead, a confident sense of what needs to be done is conveyed.
"(The team) is more mellow," Quinn said. "We're definitely not as crazily psyched as we were for H-Y-Ps. We know we have to conserve our energy on the first day to last the entire meet."
Since there are two sessions a day for three straight days, this is the most grueling meet of the season. Often referred to as a "six-day" meet by Orr, the team will have to pace itself so it will have the energy to finish strong.
"Definitely after the third day, everything's taken a toll on you," Quinn said.
With the close competition among the swimmers, the championship may well come down to the often forgotten portion of the team: the divers.
"Though swimming's a major part (of the meet)," sophomore diver Andy Shyongt said, "the diving could win or lose this meet."
All three Princeton divers will be competing this weekend, an advantage that could prove substantial. At H-Y-Ps, the three captured five of the top six spots, gaining valuable points that started the Tigers off on the right foot. With Harvard not entering a single diver, these three have the opportunity to gain many uncontested points and make up lost ground.
But again, the question arises: Could it happen again? With the substantial differences between this season and last, Princeton will be in control of its destiny, instead of simply following behind the Crimson.
"The challenge will lie with us," Quinn said, "to see if we can step it up."