It’s that time of year again. Practice sizes dwindle, bikinis and board shorts replace one pieces and jammers, and swim families rush off to East Coast beaches to squeeze in a week or two of vacation as the school year all too quickly approaches.
Well, in the majority of cases, that is.
In a recent trend, All-Stars again overlaps with several regional and national club meets, pilfering some of the league’s top talent. Even swimmers from the same family are impacted differently. Highlands Swim’s Chuck Katis rearranged his flights to the Junior National meet in order to take a second crack at Ed Moses’ NVSL record in the 50 breaststroke while twin sister Jayme will already be in Pittsburgh for Sectionals.
This means several heretofore alternates will get a final shot to swim, some with team records in sight, and previous two-, three-, and four-seeds move up into title contention, especially in the more senior age groups.
Here are just a few races to watch this weekend:
8 & under boys butterfly
Reason to watch: At the 8 & under age, butterfly takes countless forms – good and bad. Grimm quite obviously derives favorable results from his technique, as his qualifying time of 17.13 seconds is just .03 back from Austin Patteson’s – who is now 17 years old and a top contender in 15-18 butterfly – NVSL record in the event. Horsfield, at more than a second back, should slide into a comfortable second-place finish as the race develops behind him for third.
9-10 girls IM
Reason to watch: Eksteen is absolutely dominant in the pool. Her qualifying time in IM (1:17.34) is six-and-a-half seconds faster than the next faster qualifier. And, oh yeah, she would also win the boys’ race by nearly a second. Eksteen holds the season’s best time in each of the four individual strokes, solidifying her unrivaled position as the best 9-10 girl in NVSL this summer. However, she’ll need to drop another three-and-a-half ticks Saturday to make a run at the league record.
11-12 girls butterfly
Reason to watch: It will be Bayer’s race to lose, as her NVSL-record swim last weekend is 1.29 seconds faster than the next qualifier. So then why watch? Bayer is easily one of the most dominating swimmers NVSL has seen in recent memory. When Janet Hu (Mosby Woods), now 15, broke onto the NVSL scene, she completely rewrote the butterfly record books, setting new best marks just as quickly as she could age up. Just four years younger and at the bottom of the age group at 11 years old, Bayer is now doing the same to Hu’s records.
13-14 boys freestyle
Reason to watch: This race easily could be the closest of the day, as the top 10 qualifiers all are separated by less than one second. Leading this tightly-packed bunch is Lambert, who posted a 25.61 last weekend at the Division 11 championships, but Outlaw (25.74) and Murphy (25.77) will be right there, too. Cabell Perrot’s 2007 NVSL record in the event (24.24) should be out of harm’s way, but the race is still sure to be thrilling.
15-18 boys breaststroke
Reason to watch: All season, both Katis and Fiala have had their sights on Ed Moses’ long-standing mark of 28.81, set when the Olympian was 15 years old. Katis came within .08 seconds of the iconic record last weekend at Divisionals while Fiala fell nearly three-tenths short at the Division 7 championships. But the added benefit of swimming against one another puts Moses’ time in serious jeopardy at All-Stars. If neither Katis nor Fiala, both graduating seniors, rewrite history at Waynewood, it likely will be several years before another comes close.
ReachfortheWall.com will be on hand to cover the All-Stars action.