Week 3 Preview: Wakefield Chapel @Overlee

Heading into the third week of the NVSL season, most teams have started to firmly shape their realistic hopes and aspirations for the season ahead. With the final ten days of the season featuring four highly competitive meets, three of which will end with crowning a champion, the third meet serves as a final test run where coaches and swimmers can play around with their depth, hoping to nail down the winning formula.

This Saturday, Overlee will host Wakefield Chapel –an historic rivalry from the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that has been revived in recent years since the Wahoos rejoined Division 1. Earlier this week, legendary Overlee coach, Bob York, held a clinic with the team, and talked with a group of swimmers about his memories from coaching the Flying Fish when this rivalry originated. When Bob started coaching the Orange and White, Overlee only had a few D1 championships to show for–however, after a decade of battling back and forth with Wakefield Chapel for supremacy of the NVSL’s top division, the legacy of Overlee as a swimming heavy weight was confirmed. During his tenure, York would win ten Division 1 championships, only losing in 1979 and 1987. Since the 80’s Overlee has remained at the top of the league, while Wakefield Chapel has bounced around the upper divisions of the NVSL. In 2014 the Wahoos returned to Division 1 and have shown promise with many tremendous individual swimmers, but briefly fell out of the top division for a season due to lacking all-around depth. Since holding on to their spot in D1 last season, Wakefield Chapel comes into Saturday’s meet as a familiar foe, with a revived spirit. Here are our predictions for the meet, and which races to watch, and what to expect!

8-Under Events: Boys Free/Relay

The 8-under age group has progressed tremendously this season, due in no small part to the excellent coaching! Though starting the season as a big question mark, I expect Saturday to be a breakout performance for this age group as a whole. The 8-under girls either should, or could, sweep the points in all four events, and will win their relay by nearly a length of the pool! The boys will be challenged early in Freestyle, and will struggle to secure second and third place points in the other events, but they should carry the majority of the points in each event, simply by having a better swimmer in lane 3 compared to the rest of the field. Nonetheless, the 100M freestyle relay to start the second half of the meet will be anyone’s race, and certainly worth making it back from the snack bar or bathroom in time for.

Advantage: Overlee

9-10 Events: Boys Back/Fly Girls Free/Back

The 9-10 age group has proven to be a consistently strong and deep age group for Overlee this season, with strong swimmers in every event. Both the boys and girls sides should pick up the majority of points in every event, and even sweep a few races, as well as win their relays by a mile. The fourth race of the day will feature a great finish with a group of swimmers coming to the wall together, and will be determined by which girl wants the win more! Wakefield Chapel does have a few very strong swimmers in this age group and they will attempt to throw everything they can at the kid next to them in lane three, so expect close finishes in the girls 50 back as well as the boys 25 fly. However, it is worth keeping in mind that Overlee has not swum in a pool considered “fast” by most standards, so even in a race like the boys 50 back, it could be anybody’s to win! Expect the Overlee swimmers in this age group to keep the momentum rolling throughout the meet.

Advantage: Overlee

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

As previously stated, Overlee has not swum in a very fast pool so it is difficult to compare times for swimmers who have been in better pools against good competition. Nonetheless, with those times, the 11-12 boys should be in every race, and if they swim like they did last week at McLean, then this is where the meet could get out of hand for Wakefield Chapel. Needing to limit the damage the younger swimmers inflict on the point margin, the 11-12 boys stepping up and winning points they are not expected to get could be the final straw. The girls will have a few close races; however, they may spend most of the day battling it out for second and third place points, with Wakefield Chapel having a swimmer who will contest the NVSL record in both of her races, and exceptionally strong swimmers in other events. Regardless, the 11-12 girls are all strong swimmers, and I expect them to put together a tough relay swim to challenge the faster seeded Wahoo team.

Advantage: Toss-Up

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

Wakefield Chapel will get stronger in each event as they get into their older swimmers, many of whom swim very competitively year round. Furthermore, they return a number of their 13-14 boys squad that set several NVSL relay records. The Overlee boys will be competitive for top points in Freestyle, and will be hanging on for whatever they can get in the remaining events. As we pointed out last week, momentum is a critical x-factor in Saturday swimming, which will add another challenge to the home boys swimming their races on the heels of electrifying swims from Wakefield Chapel’s 11-12 girls. Fortunately, Overlee has the ability to tip the scale back in their own direction with their girls. They will have a tough time winning free and back; however, they could sweep breaststroke and butterfly, which could provide the knock-out punch later in the meet if Overlee scrapes a few extra points in other age groups. Both teams will split the relays, but I think given how things are going with the younger swimmers, Overlee’s 13-14s will carry the majority of the points.

Advantage: Overlee

15-18 Events: Boys Free/Breast Girls Free/Back/Fly/Relay

The senior swimmers are getting great early season competition on a weekly basis, and it has made them a stronger group as a whole. Wakefield Chapel has excellent swimmers in every event and will give the girls everything they can handle in all the events except breaststroke, where they can still pick up a few supporting points. The boys will have spots to lock down needed first place swims, but will struggle to score anything else in back and fly, while Free and Breast will be absolute dog-fights to scrap a first place swim. Though I expect the meet to be decided by the time we get to the senior relays, expect and encore performance from the girls relay, which is seeded half a second behind the team next to them! Based on seed times alone, Overlee is the under-dog in this age group, but swimming at home for the first time all season could be the variable that changes things.

Advantage: Wakefield Chapel

Meet Prediction: Overlee 250-Wakefield Chapel 170

Overlee having a handed advantage with younger swimmers will be an unforgivable weakness, as it tends to be in Division 1. While 10-unders drop miraculous amounts of time out of nowhere, Overlee looks to be safe here, and that will provide a needed cushion against a team that is top heavy like Wakefield Chapel. From there, Overlee has experienced swimmers in the older age groups, who will trade punches dropping and adding points throughout the morning, which will not really create an opportunity to turn this meet around. Furthermore, Wakefield Chapel is largely seeded to win most of the older events, meaning that every time they lose a close race, or give up a vital second or third place swim, they fall further behind in making up a margin they initially find themselves on the disadvantaged side of. Lastly, Overlee is seeded to win seven relays and will contend for an eighth–Wakefield Chapel will need to win nearly all of these relays to have a realistic chance of winning. Most of the hard work will be taken care of before the individual events end, and Overlee will get its third win somewhere in the first few relays of the morning!

Though moral victories are less than tangible, Wakefield Chapel has made enormous strides to be a competitive Division 1 team, and they will undoubtedly shake things up at Relay Carnival next week. They will be worth watching moving forward as a team that will contend for the top half of the division next year.

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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