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But Florida is almost a sure bet to become only the second school south of the Mason-Dixon Line to chant "We're
No. 1" when all the splashin' has been concluded.
Picked as the pre-season favorite by Swimming World
magazine, the Gators have done nothing to dispell the air
of optimism pervading Gainesville in succeeding months.
In a word, Florida is loaded. After sweeping to a surprisingly easy Southeastern Conference Championship over
arch-rival Tennessee and contender Auburn last year, the
Gators had high hopes of dethroning the defending NCAA
champ Vols at Cleveland State, but it was not to be.
"We didn't swim as well as I would have liked at
Cleveland (site of the 1979 title meet). However, I attribute
that largely to our inexperience and perhaps a bit of over-
confidence," the young (33) and hard-driving coach, Randy
Reese, states. "Now that we know what the NCAAs are
really all about I think we'll be in a much better position to
handle the pressure at Harvard."
Reese's Gators are strong in virtually every area save
breaststroke, which could be an impediment to finaling
their medley relay team. However, their depth in the
freestyles, butterfly, individual medley and backstroke
events should more than compensate for their dearth of
Leading the way for Florida is Pan-Am Games 200 fly
gold medalist Craig Beardsley, who can also score in the
distance freestyles. Then there's David Larson, PAG silver
medalist in the 200 free; Glynn Perry, fourth at Puerto Rico
in the 400 IM and Bill Sawchuk, a Canadian Olympian who
silver medaled in the longer IM race at Puerto Rico and
was SEC Swimmer of the Year as a freshman.
Additionally, Reese has gifted swimmers in backstroke-
flyer-medleyist Kyle Miller (world ranked in the Top 10 in
four disparate events last summer); Grant Ostlund, AAU
outdoor 100 fly champ who led the world in 1979; flyer-
freestyler-IMer David Zubero, who medaled for his native
Spain at the Latin Cup, Europa Cup, FINA Cup and
Mediterranean Games during the previous long course
season; freestyler-flyer John Hillencamp, who's a threat in
several events; sprinter Rob Ramirez and diver Chris
Snode, who placed third on both boards last year and won
the three meter title in 1978.
A thousand miles west of Gainesville lies Austin, Texas,
home of Coach Eddie Reese's powerful Texas Longhorns.
The older brother of Randy, Eddie Reese's 'Horns — while
perhaps not strong enough to threaten Florida's expected
march to the title — nevertheless could have a significant
impact on the meet's outcome.
When E. Reese was at Auburn, he helped guide the War
Eagles to a rather surprising second-place NCAA finish
two years ago. He then took off for 10-gallon country and
brought with him two leading collegians in backstroker
Phil Nenon and breaststroker-IMer Scott Spann.
Reese also recruited sprinter Kris Kirchner for the Mid-
West and this year brought in a fine group of freshmen, led
by backstroker Clay Britt, flyer William Paulus, sprinter
Eric Finical and breaststroker Nick Nevid.
As a freshman at Auburn in 1977, Spann won the NCAA
200 IM, and his 1:48.26 clocking still stands as the
American record. As a sophomore, Spann repeated his 200
IM NCAA victory and added the 100 breast title, but was
obliged to sit out the past season (along with Nenon and
Kirchner) because of the transfer rule.
Nenon is among the nation's fastest dorsal specialists
(ranking third in the 200 back as of mid-February), while
Kirchner ranked first in the 200 free, fourth in the 100 and
12th in the 50 as of the same time frame. He was also an
AAU 100 meter finalist last summer.
The 'Horns have a fine IMer to complement Spann in
soph Kelly Rives (a triple-event winner at the Southwest
Conference Championships as a freshman). Diver Tony
Scott plus distance freestyler Joe Lajoie give the
Reesemen added depth.
Reese's successor at Auburn, Richard Quick, will rely on
the talents of his "Big Three" of sprinters David McCagg
and Rowdy Gaines plus flyer-middle distance freestyler
Billy Forrester to try and topple SEC foe Florida.
McCagg was World Champion in the 100 free at Berlin a
couple of years ago and his time of 50.24 for 100 meters is
history's third-fastest. He also won the Pan-Am Games 100
free last year.
Gaines, undoubtedly America's most improved male
swimmer the past two years, is defending NCAA 50 free
champ and won the Pan-Am 200 free. His 50.41 for the 100
led the world in 1979 and his 1:50.57 for the 200 ranked his
second globally and first domestically.
Forrester, a senior, has had a brilliant international
career the past five years but, similar to McCagg, has yet
to win a national collegiate championship. At the II World
Championships he won the 200 fly, bronze medaled in the
same event at the Olympics a year later, and won the 200
free at the III World Championships in 1978.
Add to this trio breaststroker David Messer (an All-
America last year), backstroker Steve Wood (AAU finalist);
and distance freestyler Rick Morley (500, 1650 frees) and
Auburn's chances at Harvard look quite bright.
The Berserkeley Bears lost a minimum 71 points off that
championship team from 1979, including triple gold
medalist Smith and 200 back champ Peter Rocca. The
former is training for the "Big O's" with his club coach,
Don Talbot, at Nashville (although he has a year's eligibility left) while Rocca graduated following last season.
Still, the boys from Bagdhad by the Bay are hardly cryin'
the blues. Double fly gold medalist Arvidsson returns, as
does Swedish compatriot Pelle Holmertz, a talented
sprinter who's capable of giving Gaines, McCagg, Kirchner
and Tennessee's Andy Coan (defending NCAA 100 and 200
free champ) all they can handle in the way of competition.
And to make it a cozy threesome, Coach Nort Thornton
recruited Sweden's second-fastest sprinter in Per
Berkeley's "mini-UN" also includes freestyler Peter
Szmidt of Canada (world-ranked in the 200 and 400 frees in
1979): distance specialist Diego Quiroga of Ecuador; and
Italy's Paolo Revelli, a multi-talented competitor who's
capable fo finaling in the IMs and the 200 fly.
Returning veterans include soph Jimmy Johnson, second in the 400 IM and fourth in the 200 breast;
breaststroker Jeff Freeman, second in the 100 and 200
breast; freestyler Kirk Anderson, fourth in the 500 free;
IMer-flyer David Santos, eighth in both IMs; Rich Thornton,
a world-class flyer; and sprinter Mike Elleman.
Top freshmen include Dave Wilson, national prep record
holder in the 100 back plus; distance free specialist Todd
UCLA, which scored the most points ever (197) in its
history at the 1979 NCAAs, will be led by its famed "swim-
min' machine," junior Brian Goodell, the mainstay of
second-year head coach Ron Ballatore's squad.
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