The Northern Region will play host to some of the best swimmers from across the state as the Virginia AAA swimming & diving championships runs Friday & Saturday at George Mason University’s Jim McKay Natatorium in what will be another exciting weekend for swimming in this area.
All swimming prelims will be held on Friday, beginning at 4 p.m. Finals will be on Saturday, again starting at 4 p.m. Diving will take place on Saturday morning. Boys at 9 a.m.; girls at noon. Price of admission is $10.00 per person/per session.
Every race should be a thrilling showdown, with many local names showing up Saturday night at finals. Here are five storylines to watch at this year’s state meet:
1. For the first time in a decade, a team from outside of the Northern Region could be crowned state champions.
Northern Region teams have not lost the girls’ state swimming meet since 1998, and the boys’ have shown themselves to be the girls’ equals, winning 10 straight boys’ titles. That probably will not change this year on the girls’ side. Expect Oakton to be out ahead, followed by West Potomac, and Langley.
But the boys’ meet could be a different story. Cox High School (Virginia Beach) brings one of their strongest state teams ever, led by seniors Wesley Francis and Ben Hansen, along with sophomores Nate Dacruz and Austin Temple. They have hope for numerous top five finishes and wins in at least two relays that could propel them past the strong Northern Region squads.
The Falcons will have to go through a deep Oakton team, eager to reclaim another state title, Woodson‘s powerhouse dive squad, and a brothers Seliskar-led Thomas Jefferson, with their eye on multiple individual and relay state titles.
2. Whoever said swimming is not a team sport was never on a meet clinching relay team.
The state championship this year may very well be decided in the relays. Not only are relays worth double the points, but they also provide a momentum boost for the individual swimmers on and off the relay. The big dropoff between first-place points (40) and second (34) is going to be significant for Cox, who needs that six-point advantage if it hopes to upset Oakton.
Cox is the top seed in the 200-yard freestyle and 200 medley relays. The Falcons are quickly followed by Jefferson and West Springfield. The combined difference between Jefferson and Cox’s two relays is a mere .06 seconds. If either Jefferson or West Springfield can knock Cox off the top spot, it will be a big boost for Oakton, who will not vie for first in either event.
In the 400 freestyle relay, it will be nearly impossible for anyone to catch the Oakton team of Carter Sharer, Conor Murphy, Brian Phillips, and Philip Hu, seeded way out in front with a 3 minutes 11 seconds, but the race for second will be close, between Cox, Chantilly, Marshall, South County, and Woodson, all who feature a superstar anchor ready to fight for those final points.
Just like the team competition, the girls’ relays should be dominated by Northern Region teams. Oakton, West Potomac, and Langley will contend for the top points in each, but do not rule out Battlefield‘s girls’ 200 medley relay, fresh off winning the Northwest title in the event.
Battlefield has not had the opportunity to race anyone as fast as the teams from West Potomac, Woodson, and Oakton yet this season. Battlefield seniors Natalie Martin and Holly Criscuolo will pair up with Nina Tremols and Sofia Revilak to take on the Northern Region’s best. But it is hard to imagine anyone catching the speedy team of Reanna Dona, Maxine Clifford, Sara Bertram, and Hellen Moffitt from West Potomac, who set the Northern Region record two weeks back, and who will be vying for the state record this Saturday.
3.Records will tumble. The question is, how many?
The Virginia AAA state championship meet has been held in a short course meters pool the last two years, meaning no one has had an opportunity to break a traditional state yards records in quite some time. Besides the girls’ 200 medley relay record, there are a number of individual records that could go down this year.
Cyrus Hashemi (Marshall) in the boys’ 200 and 100 freestyle. Hashemi is just .21 behind the record of 1:39.88 in the 200 freestyle, and .25 off the 100 freestyle record of 45.56. Check out this video of Hashemi talking about his swimming success and his decision to swim for UNC-Wilmington next year:
Andrew Seliskar (Jefferson) in the boys’ 200 individual medley. A. Seliskar could shatter the record by more than 1.5 seconds. The record of 1:51.72,, held by David Kiss – currently at George Mason University, – is one of the fastest records in the state. It was previously held by Austrian Olympic silver medalist Markus Rogan (Mount Vernon High School) and was untouched for nine years. Northern Region runner-up Brandon Fiala will most likely go under the record as well, behind A. Seliskar.
Stephen Seliskar (Jefferson) in the boys’ 100 backstroke. Andrew’s older brother Stephen (senior) will have a shot at breaking Rogan’s remaining state record in the 100 backstroke (50.20). He went a 49.97 in prelims at the Northern Region championship meet two weeks ago, and is certainly hoping to be able to match that mark this weekend.
Bo Ilgenfritz (Woodson) in the boys’ 100 breaststroke. While no one is going to challenge Chuck Katis’s (Harvard) Northern Region record of 55.61 anytime soon, the state record is comparatively languid at 57.15, and within reach of the Woodson senior (57.20).
Abi Speers (Langley) in the girls’ 50 freestyle. Speers seems to get a little bit faster off the blocks each week. Her seed time (23.32) is already under Olympic hopeful Amanda Kendall‘s 2009 record of 23.40, but the Langley junior will push herself to see how much further she can lower that mark, especially with the impressive group of underclassmen in the lanes surrounding her.
Janet Hu (Oakton) in the girls’ 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. Hu is on an impressive run, setting regional records in the 100 freestyle (49.52) and 100 backstroke (53.76), while leading Oakton’s girls to team titles at districts and regionals.
This week, she has her sights on two of the fastest girls’ state records – the 100 butterfly and 100 backstroke. She is seeded .34 off the 100 butterfly record held by Suzanne Schwee (University of Alabama) with a time of 55.12, and is well under U-Va. swimmer Meredith Cavalier’s record in the 100 backstroke of 54.85. She could round off her night by breaking the girls’ 400 freestyle relay record of 3:30.60, held by an Ashley Danner (GMU) anchored Lake Braddock team. Oakton is currently seeded 3:30.96.
4. Speed suits will make a difference this weekend.
How many finalists will be sporting the newest look by the sports premier technical outfitters? After the 2010 ban on technical suits, FINA approved tags were spotted on suits everywhere at the Washington Metro and Northern Region championship meets, and TYR, Arena, Nike, and Speedo championship level suits will most certainly be in abundance at Saturday night’s finals.
How many swimmers were able to get their hands on the newest Fastskin3 by Speedo for this weekend’s meet, which claims a 5.2% reduction in full body drag; 5.7% when paired with the goggle and cap system? At $395 for the male jammer and $595 for the female kneeskin, the suits ought to swim for you, but a 5.7% difference could be enough to propel a lower seeded swimmer to a championship title. These suits are approved by the NFHS, USA Swimming, and FINA, but that does not mean we are not headed toward possibly another suit controversy like in 2000 and 2008.
5. Five Olympic Trials qualifiers will compete this weekend, all on the girls’ side.
A number of local swimmers will be competing for a coveted spot on the US Olympic Team in June at the U.S. Olympic Trials, in Omaha.
Jenna Van Camp (Herndon High School), Ali Stephens-Pickeral (George Washington High School), and Kayla Brumbaum (Riverbend High School) are all Trials qualifiers in the 100 breaststroke, and will meet this weekend in that event on Saturday. Van Camp is the top seed with a blistering 1:02.49. Stephens-Pickeral is right behind in 1:03:44, followed by Brumbaum in 1:04.38.
In the 100 backstroke, Hellen Moffitt and Janet Hu will square off. Moffitt achieved her first Trials cut last summer in the 100 backstroke. Hu has not reached her cut in backstroke, but currently has cuts in three other events. Hu could add more in March at one of the long course championship club meets.
Moffitt and Hu will meet again in the 400 freestyle relay. At the Northern Region meet, Hu was too much for Moffitt in both events. She shattered the region record in the backstroke event just a few events before she delivered one of the most sensational swims of the night, as the anchor of the 400 freestyle relay. She overcame a sizable deficit to win the event for Oakton, splitting 48.5 in the final leg.