Heavy water—not the kind used in cyclotrons but the kind produced when large men flay the contents of a pool with spirit and determination—was the main topic of discussion, and grievance, during the National AAU championships at Yale last week. The Nationals were of unusual importance this year, since the results would decide the selection of swimmers for the Pan American Games three weeks hence, and this, in turn, allowed Big Ten schools (if they wished) to enter the meet under their team colors.
The 25-yard pool at Yale has gutters at the sides but not at the ends and, during the four days of racing and diving, the waves in it—if complaining swimmers and coaches were taken seriously—rivaled the black giants of Lake Erie in a winter gale.
After the 100-yard butterfly, which was won in the impressive time of 51.5 by Walter Richardson of Minnesota, Carl Robie of Peekskill Military Academy remarked, "It's the roughest pool I ever swam in. It kills you." Robie finished sixth. Chet Jastremski of Indiana told his coach, Dr. James Counsilman, that he had taken in so much water in the 100-yard breaststroke trial that afternoon he didn't think he could hold up for the finals. "Start fast off the blocks," said Counsilman, who is the foremost adherent of the anguish school of training, "and after the first lap really blast out." Jastremski, a mild young man out of the water, nodded and left to lie down.
The order of the Yale relay team was altered because of the waves. Coach Phil Moriarty had noticed in the 100-yard freestyle race that Yale's nonpareil sprinter, Steve Clark, had been bounced "like a shuttlecock and wasn't able to get a hold on the water." Clark is, by present swimming standards, a slight young man who has abandoned the popular shaved dome in favor of a full head of hair. To keep the small and hairy Clark from too much buffeting, Moriarty had him lead off the relay instead of swimming third. The theory was that Clark would take the lead and be out of the pool, toweling himself, by the time the rollers began. The strategy worked. Untroubled, Clark pounded out a 47-second leg (second fastest 100 yards of the whole meet), and Yale broke all records for this kind of relay in this kind of pool. The time was 3:08.1.
Waves or no, the swimmers did well, with challengers, when they didn't finish first, pushing the defenders to frantic efforts. U. of Michigan freshman Bill Farley forced Roy Saari of the Southern California freshmen to swim 16:52.1 in the 1,650-yard freestyle, and 16-year-old Don Schollander forced Saari to swim 4:48.2 in the 500.
In 14 events 14 American records were set—probably a record itself, even for a swimming meet. Indiana smashed all opposition with more-than-expected fierceness and would have done even better had Tom Stock been awarded a judgment over Ensign Charles Bittick (who, at 23, is in his swimming dotage) in a very close 200-yard backstroke event and if Indiana's medley swimmer Ted Stickles had not been suffering from what swimmers call tennis elbow, which curtailed his training.
Indiana scored 91 points to 51 for the Southern California freshmen, 43 for the Los Angeles AC, 39 for Yale and 30 for Minnesota. Like Saari (who also won the 400-yard individual medley), Indiana's water baby, Chet Jastremski, won three individual events—the 200-yard medley and the 100-and 200-yard breast-strokes. And on the final night he swam his specialty in the 400-yard medley relay, which Indiana won.
Coach Counsilman, understandably upset because his swimmers have been banned from the NCAA tournament because of some hanky-panky in football recruiting at Indiana back in 1960, said before the meet, "I want to win this one big. Being kept out of the NCAA has knocked our recruiting of swimmers into a cocked hat." He seems to have done well with what he has.