The meet's most courageous effort came from another Stanford man, back-stroker Jeff Rouse. Rouse, a 6'3", 190 pound junior from Fredericksburg, Va., looks anything but fragile. However, he is the Humpty Dumpty of the swimming world. Last spring he fractured a rib when he fell and hit the corner of a chair. He broke the rib again doing bench presses and then in December suffered yet another fractured rib while wrestling with teammates. After winning the world title a month later in the 100-meter back, Rouse returned to Palo Alto only to fall down some steps and break the navicular bone in his left wrist in early February. As a result, Rouse had to go five weeks without using his arms in practice. Nevertheless, on Thursday night, he clocked 46.63 in leading off the Cardinal's 400 medley relay team, .39 under the NCAA record set two years ago by Harvard's David Berkoff. The next night Rouse won the 100 back in 46.99.
But Stanford didn't have the manpower to overtake Texas, and Jordan in particular. The prolific Longhorn saved his best effort for his anchor leg on the Texas 400 free relay, the last event. Starting a body length behind Wharton, Jordan caught him at the halfway point as the crowd came to its feet. Jordan's split was 42.02, and he touched in 2:53.11 for the win, .72 seconds ahead of Wharton.
Afterward, Jordan spoke not of his future, which is guaranteed to be intriguing, but his past. "I'm so thankful I got to swim for Eddie," he said.
The feeling is mutual.