PVS swimmers ready for winter’s biggest event

PVS swimmers ready for winter’s biggest event

by -
Samuel Rairden, who is seed first in three of this weekend's events, has fun at practice before USA Juniors this past summer. (Courtesy of Katie Schroeder)
Samuel Rairden, who is seed first in three of this weekend's events, has fun at practice before USA Juniors this past summer. (Courtesy of Katie Schroeder)

Beginning late Thursday afternoon, nearly 1,600 Potomac Valley swimmers will converge on the George Mason University Aquatic and Fitness Center for the biggest local meet of the winter season, the Tom Dolan Invitational. Each one of them will be competing with an individual goal in mind.

For Samuel Rairden, a 18-year-old swimmer who is seeded first in three of his events, it’s to hit NCAA meet cuts in three of the six events in which he will compete.

The meet will be contested through Sunday, with 33 Potomac Valley Swimming clubs participating. According to assistant meet director Karen Pawlowicz, 1,563 total athletes are entered in the meet for a total of 6,941 total entries as of Tuesday afternoon. The Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club and Curl-Burke Swim Club have each entered more than 300 athletes. Swimmers need to meet specific time requirements for event eligibility. Each is limited to entering a maximum seven events, with no more than three on a single day.

Rairden, who swims for Poseidon Swimming, identified the three events he has targeted for this weekend as the 100 butterfly, 200 backstroke and the 200 freestyle. And while he is seeded first in the butterfly and backstroke, he is the fifth seed in the 200 freestyle event.

According to Poseidon Swimming head coach Ted Sallade, Rairden’s preparation for the Tom Dolan Invitational Meet spans well beyond the pool.

“This year, he’s picked up lifting weights,” Sallade said. “He’s gotten quite a bit stronger. It will be interesting to see the benefits of the strength training.”

Rairden said he lifts three days a week — Sunday, Tuesday and Thursday — and it has helped with his explosiveness and catch in the water.

Rairden will be competing among several other notable local swimmers.

Former Olympian Kate Ziegler, the 21-year-old Olympic swimmer and former world champion for The FISH, is entered in five events. She is seeded first in three events and second in the girls open 50 freestyle — definitely not a specialty for the distance star. Ziegler, who  competed in the Minnesota Grand Prix in mid-November after bowing out of the U.S. world-championship trials with the flu, will compete with top-seed Katherine Bassett (NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Inc) and 15-year-old Gabrielle Bishop (Unique Swimming) for the win in the 50 freestyle. The time difference between the first and third seed times is 0.15 seconds.

Janet Hu, 13, is entered in six events and seeded first in four. In the girls 13-14 100 butterfly, Hu will compete alongside her Curl-Burke teammate, Hellen Moffitt, who is seeded second. In the 200 backstroke, Hu is the only swimmer with a seed time of under two minutes. Kelsey Moore of the New Wave Swim Team is seeded second with a 2:07.44.

Quest Swimming’s Cameron Johnston is also hoping for wins in multiple events. He is a top ten seed in six of seven events and the top seed in four events. The 14-year-old will compete in the 200 freestyle, where he is seeded fourth and less than two seconds off the top seed, John Denning (Tidewater Aquatic Club).

Jack Conger, a 15-year-old swimmer for the Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club, is entered in seven events and top-five seeded in three out of those seven. Conger has an outside chance to win the 200 Yard IM—despite being seeded fifth, he is less than a second off the top seed, 21-year-old Ryan David.

“Everyone always puts up fast swimmers, and they should be fun to race against,” Conger said.

All distance events will be held Thursday. The following three days, open preliminary events will be held in the mornings starting at 8:45 a.m. Afternoon preliminaries and 10-and-under finals will be held in the afternoons, beginning at 2 p.m. All other final sessions will start at 6:05 p.m.

Parking in Lot C on the George Mason campus will be closed throughout the event. Lot A will be open for public parking. While swimmer drop-off is not allowed in front of the aquatic center, it will be provided in Lot C. Swimmers, coaches and volunteers will be able to enter through the side entrance. All parents and spectators must enter through the main entrance.


  1. Why would a club swimmer be interested in making NCAA cuts? They are only for college swimmers that are trying to swim at NCAA’s..and the 100 back A cut is 46.49. The NCAA meet is the hardest meet in the world (with the exception of the Olympics) to qualify for because not only are the times incredibly fast, they cap the participants.

    On another note, it will be great to see Hu swim, I just wish she were in the open category not 13-14, I doubt she would have much trouble winning in either because she is such a talent.

    Lots of great NOVA swimmers which should make the meet really fast too

  2. A goal is …simply put a goal. Swimmers set goals all the time, from making that first A cut to swimming an Olympic qualifying time. And club swimmers are potential college swimmers and they are aware of and strive to achieve those standards. This is a great meet and you are correct swimfan there will be lots of great swimming to watch! Good luck to all the swimmers in meeting and achieving their individual and team goals!

  3. I agree with Swimfan – Rairden needs to take a humble pill. The kid barely has three Senior Cuts and not even listed on TYM for colleges. Without the suits many college swimmers who are world class don’t even have B Cuts this year.

  4. Ya Rairden needs to calm down. he would get baked up by Conger in 200 back if he was swimming it and Conger is only a freshman. He is not going to win 200 free unless he drops 4 seconds and goes well under 1:40.00 … not likely. Maybe he will win 100 fly…maybe

  5. here’s someone you need to watch out for: conor cudahy, 14….last night at tom dolan he went a 9:49 1000 free, which is 6th in the nation for 13-14 boys…he also made the sectional cut…BEAST

  6. Congrats to Janet Hu and Jack Conger, they are both very talented swimmers! And SwimFan, Janet swims the 400 IM and 200 back in the open age category this weekend. She came in 2nd in the 400 IM with a 4:19, and is seeded 1:59 for the 200 back (which she will win, no doubt). But I think we all agree that Hu is an amazing swimmer, especially at such a young age..

  7. Way to go Brad Phillips!!! Congratulations on some great swims and we can’t wait to see you in Chancellorsville next year! Wahooo!!

  8. Haha..I swear I typed Charlottesville…spell check strikes again..
    So I will repeat, Great Job Brad…Can’t wait to see you in C-Ville:)

  9. okay, chill out and stop trying to tear sam down. First of all, the kid is in college so he can go for NCAA cuts all he wants, and like somebody else said, its just a goal anyways, something to make you want to do better, so why not try to do well enough as some of the top swimmers in the nation? and secondly, do you realize that he has only been on a real club team for TWO years? he swam with a bad community team that happened to have an indoor pool and worked his ass off to get his first senior champs cut when he was a sophomore in high school then moved to Poseidon when he was a junior. the fact that in only two years he’s improved to be as good as he is now is ridiculous. and don’t get me wrong i think all these other guys did a great job too, and i congratulate them for working as hard as they have, just remember that sam worked just as hard to get where he is now. (Editors note: this comment was edited to remove the profanity)

  10. Oh my gosh!! i cant believe sam has only been swimming for poseidon for a few years…if thats the case he is the best swimmer of all that were listed. & goodness, everyone is obviously jealous because man do they want to break him down. Hu and Conger are fabulous swimmers, but just wait for the future….you never know who will emerge…

Leave a Reply