At one end of the University of Michigan pool a deep-chested young man wearing the red trunks of Indiana University churned to the finish of the afternoon's last race. At the other end, a flock of deep-chested young men whooped and hurrahed and shoved Indiana Coach James E. Counsilman into the pool. Surfacing, Counsilman looked with vast satisfaction at the scoreboard, which read: Indiana 58, Michigan 47.
"This," he said a few minutes later, "makes us big time."
It did indeed. In the year's best dual meet—perhaps the finest in American collegiate history—upstart Indiana decisively whipped the team that more than any other has dominated collegiate swimming.
Before Counsilman barged into the picture at Bloomington two seasons ago, Hoosier swimmers were among the humblest of American athletes. But Counsilman, a champion breast-stroke competitor himself at Ohio State and one of those rare coaching birds, a Ph.D. (in physical education), enunciated a stern philosophy of training: "To build condition you have to hurt yourself—make your lungs burn and everything else."
Two miles of swimming a day in practice and a half-hour workout with weights became routine at Indiana. Counsilman rigged pulley-and-weight devices to perfect strokes and help develop stamina. He taught positive thinking: "If you believe you can do something, you can."
Led by Frank McKinney Jr., the best backstroker in the world and son of the former national chairman of the Democratic Party, Doc Counsilman's young believers were strong enough last spring to finish second behind Michigan in the Big Ten championships and third in the NCAA.
With the promotion of a handful of notable sophomores to the varsity this season, Indiana achieved some of the depth it so painfully lacked before. The jewel of the lot was 19-year old Mike Troy of Indianapolis (pictured left), a dark, handsome lad with shoulders as wide as a church door and three world butterfly records (at 110 yards, 220 yards, 200 meters) already to his credit.
Thus reinforced, Counsilman, with considerable optimism, headed toward Ann Arbor. "Only three teams in the country are good enough to give us a rough time," he said. " Michigan, Southern California and—our freshman team."
As time for the meet approached, Counsilman—a compulsive feeder when he becomes nervous—turned his thoughts to thick, juicy steaks. His Michigan rival, Gus Stager, stopped eating altogether.
The night before Stager's team had routed Wisconsin for its 33rd consecutive dual victory, but Stager, outwardly jaunty and capable of flashing an extraordinarily charming grin, was plainly concerned over the 34th. He had, among other assets, the best breaststroke man in the country in Ron Clark, a wonderful butterfly stylist in Dave Gillanders, superior sprinters in Frank Legacki and Carl Woolley and a wealth of divers, but Michigan would have to swim without its formidable captain, Tony Tashnick. Winner of two butterfly events and the individual medley in last year's conference meet, Tashnick was convalescing from mononucleosis.