Preview: Tom Dolan Invitational – Dec. 8-11

Preview: Tom Dolan Invitational – Dec. 8-11

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The 2011 Tom Dolan Invitational will begin Thursday night at 5:40 p.m. at the University of Maryland's Eppley Recreation Center, with timed finals events. Over the last decade, the invitational has attracted many of the top club teams from up and down the East Coast, making Tom Dolan one of the most competitive meets in the country.

“The last several years this has become a destination event for a lot of clubs. We are just about the fastest winter meet on the East Coast, many of our senior events require a USA senior national [qualifying] time to get in to finals,” said meet director, Brian Pawlowicz. “Many of our age group swimmers are listed in the top ten of their events according to USA Swimming.”

Prelims will begin at 8:45 a.m. (13 & over) and 2:00 p.m. (12 & under) Friday through Sunday. Finals sessions will begin nightly at 6:05 p.m for all age groups. The meet's name-sponsor, two-time Olympic gold medalist Tom Dolan, will be in attendance on Sunday to present awards. The meet will be streamed live at

For a second straight year, the meet will feature the Fran Crippen Memorial Mile, in honor of Fran Crippen, who lost his life in an open water swim in October 2010. Crippen was a former Germantown Academy standout and University of Virginia swimmer. Fran's sister Madeleine Crippen will be presenting the mile awards on Sunday.

Here are some of the swimmers to key an eye on when they step up on the blocks.

Up-and-coming Curl-Burke star Lea Gwennap (12) is the top seed in all seven of her individual events — 200 backstroke (2 minutes 4.65 seconds), 100 back (58.74), 200 individual medley (2:09.21), 200 butterfly (2:09.05), 100 IM (59.86), 200 free (1:54.18) and 400 IM (4:27.61).

She will face stiff competition in several events from teammates Emily Meilus (12) and Cassidy Bayer (12). Bayer is the top seed in the 100 free (54.42), 50 fly (26.79), 50 free (25.18), and 100 fly (56.54). Meilus is seeded first in the 500 free (5:07.04).

Two events you won't want to miss are the boys open 200 freestyle and the girls open 100 butterfly. For the boys, ten swimmers are under 1 minute 42 seconds in their 200 freestyle, which should make for a blistering “A” Final. The girls butterfly event will feature area standouts Natalya Ares (17) from RMSC, Alli Haufler (17) from Machine, and Curl-Burke teammates Janet Hu (16) and Hellen Moffitt (16).

Between them, Curl-Burke's Anthony Nguyen (10) and RMSC's Djordje Orcev (10) may walk away with nearly all of the 10 & Under boys awards. Nguyen is seeded first in the 50 fly (29.15), 100 breast (1:17.94), 200 IM (2:25.68), 100 IM (1:09.26), 100 fly (1:04.13), and 50 breast (36.27). Orcev holds the top spot in the 100 free (59.03) , 100 back (1:06.95), 50 free (27.16), 50 back (31.10), and 200 free (2:06.03). The only events in which they are seeded second, they are positioned behind the other.

The strongest all-around swimmer in the boys 11-12 age group, Devin Truong (12), RMSC, will challenge for seven first-place finishes and is currently the top seed in the 100 back (58.90), 200 breast (2:18.52), 200 IM (2:05.51), and 500 free (5:11.20).

Central Bucks' Allie Szekely (13) is seeded first in four events — 100 breast (1:04.53), 400 IM (4:26.67), 200 breast (2:16.65), and 200 back (2:04.42) – but will challenge for first in each of the six events she has entered.

Carsten Vissering (14) from Curl-Burke has a shot at winning as many as five events and is currently seeded first in the 100 breast (58.30), 400 IM (4:13.87), 200 breast (2:07.19), and 200 IM (1:59.73).

The other half of the 13-14 boys events may be won by Machine's James Murphy, the top seed in the 200 free (1:46.01), 100 fly (53.67), and 200 fly (1:56.96).

All-Met Swimmers of the Year, Sarah Haase (17) and Jack Conger (17) will be swimming just one week after representing RMSC at the 2011 Winter Nationals in Atlanta. Conger is the top seed in both the 100 back (47.95) and 200 back (1:43.16). Haase holds the top seed in the 100 breast (1:00.44).

Curl-Burke's Katie Ledecky (14) is scheduled to swim up in seven girls open events. She is the top seed in the 500 freestyle (4:35.14), 1,000 freestyle (9:29.81), and 1,650 freestyle (16.07.33). Her times in the 500 and 1,000 free are 13-14 National Age Group Records, set last month at the National Age Group Team Challenge. Ledecky may scale back her meet schedule as she recovers from an illness that knocked her out of Winter Nationals last week.

In the 10 & Under girls events, Greenwich YMCA star Alex Walsh holds the top position in five events — 100 breast (1:15.92), 50 free (28.29), 100 IM (1:09.11), 50 breast (36.57) and 100 free (1:01.87). She is seeded second in her sixth event, the 200 IM (2:28.20).

An unknown on the east coast, Michael Andrew (12), swimming unattached for the Missouri Valley-LSC, is a clear favorite to win out in all of his events, which include the 50 breast (28.25), 100 free (49.58), 50 fly (24.57), 100 breast (1:02.08), 50 free (22.08), 100 IM (56.01), and 100 fly (56.31).

Other swimmers to watch are Curl-Burke's Gregory Song (14), Zach Hayden (24), and Timothy Wu (12); Delaware Swim Team's Tanner Kurz (18) and Lily Dubroff (14); and RMSC's Jaycee Yegher (12), and Garrett Powell (17).

In previous years, RMSC and Curl-Burke have dominated this meet, taking first and second place in the team overall each year. Curl-Burke has 454 athletes currently entered in this year's meet; RMSC 417. They will account for over fifty percent of the 7,144 individual entries.

Live results for both prelims and finals will be posted here as soon as events have concluded.

For a complete psych sheet, click here.

Teams from outside of the Potomac Valley-LSC participating include Central Bucks Swim Team (Doylestown, Pa.); Chesapeake Bay Aquatic Club (St. Mary’s City, Md.); Delaware Swim Team (Wilmington, Del.); Greenwich YWCA Dolphins (Greenwich, Conn.); North Carolina Aquatic Club (Chapel Hill, N.C.); NOVA of Virginia Aquatics (Richmond, Va.); Pine-Richland Aquatics (Gibsonia, Pa.) ; Poseidon Swimming (Richmond, Va.); Prince Williams Swim Club (Woodbridge, Va.); Quest Swimming (Midlothian, Va.); Rivertown Aquatics Rays (Pleasantville, N.Y.); Suburban Seahawks Club (Elwyn, Pa.); Tidewater Aquatic Club (Chesapeake, Va.); Tri-City Aquatic Club (Virginia Beach, Va.); and Trojan Swim Club (Los Angeles, Ca.)