The 2011 Winter Classic kicks off Thursday at 5 p.m., December 8, at George Mason University's McKay Natatorium in Fairfax. The annual holiday meet, hosted by the Potomac Marlins, is in its ninth year and has become a competitive alternative to the Tom Dolan Invitational, also taking place this weekend.
This year may be one of its fastest fields ever, with a whole slue of meet records set to be broken. Prelims begin at 8:40 a.m. (13 & over) and 1:15 p.m. (12 & under) on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday; event finals begin each night at 5:40 p.m.
Favorites to break multiple records are York's Jacqueline Clabeaux (12), SNOW's Matthew Haupt (31) and Carrie Lee (14), Upper Main Line YMCA, Berwyn, Pa., teammates Nick Graesser (17), Shane Mckenzie (17), and Shannon Rauth (16), and Casey Hurrell-Zitelman (22) from Rappahannock Area YMCA, Fredericksburg, Va.
Clabeaux has one of the busiest schedules of the meet, entered in seven individual events, including all three girls 11-12 breaststroke events — 50 breast (30.96 seconds), 100 breast (1:08.71) and 200 breast (2:28.81), with a strong shot at meet records in each. She is ranked first in all seven events.
Coming off a strong performance at Winter Nationals in Atlanta this past weekend, Dec. 1-3. Haupt is seeded first in five events, which include all three men's open butterfly events — 50 fly (22.50), 100 fly (48.79), and 200 fly (1:47.12). He is currently qualified for Olympic Trials in the 200 butterfly.
Haupt's SNOW teammate, Lee, is seeded first in the girls 13-14 100 backstroke (56.20) and 200 backstroke (2:04.03), and will be aiming for the meet record in both. Lee was the youngest competitor from Potomac Valley swimming at last week's Winter Nationals. She also has a shot at a hat-trick in the backstroke events, but will have to go through Emily Cornell (13) of UMLY, who is the top seed in the 50 back (27.21). Lee is seeded .10 seconds behind her.
UMLY brings one of the strongest teams from outside the Potomac Valley-LSC, which includes top seeds Graesser in the boys open 50 (23.57) and 100 backstroke (50.29), Mckenzie in the boys open 1,000 freestyle (9:29.55) and 400 individual medley (4:00.21), and Rauth in the girls open 100 fly (56.58), 50 freestyle (23.19), and 50 backstroke (26.83).
Additionally, RAYS' Hurrell-Zitelman will be aiming for meet records in the girls open 500 freestyle (4:47.21) and 200 individual medley (2:00.33).
Hurrell-Zitelman will meet senior standout Laura Schwartz (17) from host team Potomac Marlins in both the 500 freestyle (5:0086) and 200 IM (2:05.21). Schwartz is seeded top three in five events, including the top seed in the 1,000 freestyle (10:20.18).
The Winter Classic attracts teams from New Jersey, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, and Virgina Local Swimming Communities (LSCs), with the majority of competitors coming from host LSC, Potomac Valley.