Some day in the far, far distant future, U.S. swimmers will stop outdistancing themselves and allow the aquatic record book to regain some of the tranquillity it once had. Sometime, perhaps, but not, apparently, any time soon.
Last week at Joe Perkins Natatorium, a refurbished gymnasium that sits on the north side of Dallas as part of the Southern Methodist campus, the Amateur Athletic Union put on its annual indoor short-course nationals a bare fortnight after the collegiate swimmers had set 12 American records in the NCAA get-together in East Lansing, Mich. While a few of the erstwhile campus heroes chose to rest on their laurels (read that as "backsides" in some big instances), enough of them did not, so that with the aid of a pair of 17-year-old high school upstarts, they gave the record book still another and, under the circumstances, quite surprising beating.
Pete Daland, the glib Southern California coach, neatly summed up the unusual situation when he said, "The story of this meet is a bunch of tired collegians who reached their peak two weeks ago against a bunch of high-schoolers, some of whom are scared, but all of whom are ready and eager."
For most of the collegians, this was their third major meet in five weeks, counting conference or regional and NCAA competition. Many of them were losing interest in swimming, even though the meet was serving as the only tryout for places on the U.S. Pan Am team. SMU's annual spring fraternity-sorority tea party, known as Mod-Nada Madness, was in full swing, prompting this Friday afternoon dialogue between two swimmers from a Big Ten school:
"What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm trying to pick up a date for Saturday night."
"You've got a swimming meet to worry about before Saturday night."
"I know, I know."
"You're a fool."
No doubt he was, particularly in light of the competition he faced. There were, for instance, those two 17-year-olds from Santa Clara ( Calif.) High School. Here are the proving waters, as even non-swimming types are becoming aware, of the world's most successful swimming coach, George Haines. One of the originators of age group swimming 15 years ago, Haines coaches the Santa Clara Swim Club, too, and it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between his school and his club swimmers.