By Agnes Eaton
Reporting on the 1974 NYSPHSAA Intersectional Swimming and Diving Championships, the following news article appeared in The Evening Sun, March 11, 1974, and was written by correspondent, Randy Harner:
The Norwich team had to wait until the fourth event to see their teammate Paul Eaton in action again. When the time came Paul was ready. “Let’s really go for it, huh? Ok?,” the coach told of Eaton just as he was leaving for the starting platforms. “Let’s really burn it Paul.” And “burn it” Eaton did, as he outstroked the field to capture the crown with a time of 22.18. The race was the closest of the day as the second- and third-place swimmers touched with times of 22.43 and 22.49 respectively. “It must be my time (to win),” beamed an ecstatic Eaton. “It was my time,” he kept repeating and Section 4 has its first state champion.
Eaton had a few minutes to rest and wait for event six, the 100-yard butterfly final and then the tension started all over again. In the preliminaries Eaton had easily finished first but these were the all-important finals and the various coaches were saying, “Anything can happen.” Something did happen and it was not the unexpected. Eaton took the final in 53.807 followed by a swimmer from Liverpool High in 54.30. “Swimmers would come up to me and say, ‘Norwich? Where the hell is Norwich?”
Well now they know roared the tired but unbeaten Bucky Eaton!
The Norwich team then had to wait through three more events to get to the final event of the day - the 400 yard freestyle relay - by far the most exciting race of all.
When the time came, Ken Mirabito was in position nervously awaiting the piercing report of the starter’s pistol. When the explosion came, the swimmers were off almost instantaneously. Mirabito completed the first leg in 52.36. The Tornado had fallen behind. Bob Bowers was next and he swam the distance in 52.00, but Norwich had fallen 10 yards behind.
But then Andy hit the water and his teammates roared as they saw him cut the deficit by half paving the way for older brother Paul. Andy had put in a blistering 50.46, his best time ever.
Now it was Paul’s turn to show what state champions are made of. In the trip up the lane he gained ever so slightly, but on the homeward leg he again “burned” the water and closed the gap. At the track it would have been a photo finish, but thanks to the elaborate electronic equipment used to time the swimmers, the lighted results board showed the Tornado one tenth of a second faster than the second-place team to take yet another state championship in 3:22.88.
There was pandemonium for the Norwich team and the Section 4 contestants. Andy started the chant of “We’re number one!” and soon the entire section four reps joined in.