Week 2 Preview: Overlee @McLean

In our annual meet with the McLean Marlins, supporters of both teams are treated to the best of what the NVSL has to offer. This clash features not only some of the best summer league swimmers, but the best all-around swimmers in the DC area (and country/world in recent years). Though Overlee has never lost to McLean since they moved up to Division 1 in 2011, there have been some narrow victories, including a 210-209 week 1 win in 2012, where the Flying Fish had to pull out seven relays to secure the W! Often times this match-up comes down to overwhelming top-tier talent on the side of the Marlins versus incredible age-group depth on behalf of the Flying Fish–up until now the best team has been the one with greater numbers, and the ability to consistently pick up second and third places, while foregoing consistent first place swims. Either way you cut it, this meet will be well worth the trip–here are the races we think will be most exciting, and why!

8-Under Events: Free/Back/Breast/Fly/Relay

On both the girls and the boys side, every individual event will be razor thin. Based on times from week 1, each race should have swimmers competing for first place who are roughly within one second of each other. Given the ability for munchkins to develop rapidly at this point in the season, everything from the weather to the pre-meet speeches can have an impact on the outcome of these races. The relays on paper look like a sure thing–with McLean safely winning the boys, and Overlee securing the girls–however, I would make sure to be in my seat for the start of the second half of the meet. Across four swimmers, taking seconds off of a relay is as easy as taking your cap off at the end of the race–watch out for big week 2 improvements in this age group.

Advantage: McLean

9-10 Events: Girls Free/Fly

This is one of Overlee’s top heavy age groups, with All-star caliber swimmers in every event for both the boys and girls. Conversely, McLean appears to be limited in their options for keeping up with the girls, and severely lacking when it comes to options on the boys side–expect major points picked up in this age group on Saturday. However, the girls 50 free will be down to the wire–had this race been swum last week, the difference between 1st and 3rd would have been less than 3 tenths of a second. Similarly, the girls butterfly event will feature one of the closer races of the day. Don’t blink for a second in these two races, or you might miss the moment where the race changed!

Advantage: Overlee

11-12 Events: Girls Free–Boys Back/Breast/Fly/Relay

Though appearing much deeper than McLean on the girls side of things, this age group will have their hands full competing with the best the Marlins have to offer. Similar to the 9-10 girls, the freestyle race could have three swimmers finish all within a second of each other. The boys races will be back and forth, and the relay will come down to the finish. Backstroke should be the toughest event for the boys to handle, but breaststroke and butterfly will be two incredible head to head match ups. Ultimately, this age-group could be the determining factor in which team wins the meet!

Advantage: Toss-Up

13-14 Events: Girls Free/Back/Fly/Relay–Boys Back

This will be by far the toughest age group for Overlee to deal with throughout the day. On the boys side of things, we are good where we are good, and hurting where we are not. Freestyle and Backstroke look to be safe, and the Flying Fish will need to take advantage of these opportunities to grab first and second place because breaststroke and butterfly appear to be out of reach; however, there will be close races to the wall for a few extra points outside of first in these races. The girls have their work cut out for them. McLean has a few top tier swimmers in this age group who will look to take first in every event, if not also a second and third as well. Fortunately, Overlee’s 13-14 girls are as good of swimmers as the team has anywhere and are battle tested. Nothing is a sure thing, so I would be willing to put paper aside in this meet, and let the results on Saturday speak for themselves. Freestyle and Backstroke will see a group of three or four swimmers come to the wall together, and butterfly is up for grabs with only half a second separating swimmers. Keep in mind that with summer swimming momentum is a critical factor–the 13-14 age group, probably more than any other, is greatly effected by the tides of energy and emotion carried over from previous races. Depending on how things fall in the events leading up to this age group, expect one team to have a crucial x-factor come into play here.

Advantage: McLean

15-18 Events: Girls Free/Breast/Fly–Boys Free/Breast

Similar to the 13-14 age group, McLean has absolute top level talent in their seniors; however, I do not think they will be able to handle Overlee’s depth. Overlee has some top notched talent to show for on the girls side, so it will be thrilling to watch Kayle Park and Ellie Ridgeway duel with their Marlin foes to land firsts in the Free, Breast, and Fly events. The McLean senior girls suffered a very rare disqualification in last weeks meet at Chesterbrook, making the relay situation uncertain, but I would expect a close race here as well. The senior boys will get a few opportunities to race one of the better individual swimmers in the area, setting up at least two very competitive races, but they are desperately lacking depth, which will allow the Flying Fish to pick up additional supplemental points in every race. Though McLean has probably the slowest pool in Division 1, the breastroke should feature a great duel, and has the potential to see a team record broken by the third Overlee swimmer in as many years, after it stood untouched for nearly a decade prior.

Advantage: Overlee

Meet Prediction: Overlee 245-McLean 175

In a meet like this everything comes down to momentum (as is the case in any potentially close NVSL meet). However, McLean will need to maintain the momentum over the course of the entire meet to beat Overlee, as they rely on scoring points with their top-heavy team. Overlee has greater depth across the team to withstand a tough blow by limiting the number of events they could get swept or lose first and second. By consistently picking up a few points in every race, even when losing first by what seems to be a lot, the score will never get too out of hand. Furthermore, those second, third and fourth place swimmers are the ones who tend to get more excited over the course of the meet, and have no where to go but up. Comparatively, McLean must rely on their top seeded swimmers to win for them, and when they don’t they not only lose points, but also momentum. Lastly, Overlee is seeded to win 10 relays on Saturday–unless McLean enters the second half of the meet with a massive lead, there is virtually no way for them to win.

Another important point to keep in mind is the difference in swimming cultures between the two pools. McLean has so much top level talent because they have great year round swimmers, who largely carry the team. Overlee tends to win with its numbers–no doubt the Flying Fish have great year round swimmers as well, but many of the kids swimming on Saturdays play other sports more seriously throughout the year, then turn into competitive summer league swimmers for six weeks. At the half way point in that six week journey, this is where you start seeing those kids finding their conditioning, as well as nailing the technical parts of the race such as the start, turn and finish. Overlee is a team that continues to improve throughout the season, making them difficult to gauge, in terms of strength, early on in the season. This could be a breakout meet for Overlee, where those close races fall in their direction all morning long–we will have to wait until Saturday to find out–see you there!

Note: Predictions for the meet are made solely off of available data from week 1 and previous season’s results. Due to athletes swimming different events from previous weeks, coaching strategies, absences, substitutions, disqualifications, and a variety of other factors, these predictions could be less than accurate or even relevant. For this reason, broad language and predictions were used to describe a possible scenario, while omitting individual names as much as possible. Nothing is determined until the times are put on the board after the race. We wish both teams and all competitors the best of luck!

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