The summer swim season may appear to be winding down with only two duel meets left, but hang on boosters–this next week is the longest and fastest seven days of the year. Without a doubt, this week’s Relay Carnival win was incredibly exciting, but we face a major challenge in the duel meet at Tuckahoe, and I will be honest with you…this is the toughest meet Overlee has had on paper in a long time. Compared to most close meets where the two teams fight for the same points in every event, with the top swimmers squaring off for first and second place mostly, tomorrow’s meet will feature a number of lopsided races, where each team will pick up points in bunches, decisively win the relays they should, and, ultimately, it will come down to only a handful of swims breaking the right way. On paper, Tuckahoe wins this meet by 30 points, and leads the whole way, without ever looking back–here is why Overlee is going to win and improve to 4-0!
First and foremost, momentum is everything! Overlee and Tuckahoe have had two very different trajectories this season, confirmed by the results from Wednesday. Tuckahoe appears to be trending downwards–most of their best times come from their week 1 swim at home, which is widely considered the fastest pool in the NVSL. The times that did see improvement, have almost entirely come from their duel meet with Chesterbrook, which had Divisional Championship implications written all over it. With a loss on the record, and a disappointing relay carnival performance that was masked by winning the last two relays, making the point margin not appear as severe as it truly was throughout the meet, Tuckahoe looks to have past their prime this season. Without question, Tuckahoe has a very strong team, and we will be back in their fast pool with the D1 crown on the line, giving them all the motivation needed to make things close.
I point out these observations only to throw out predictions based on paper and take a deeper look at the match up!
Comparatively, Overlee has continued to improve across the board each week. Age groups such as the 8-under and 13-14 boys that started the season in seemingly helpless positions, have picked up points in every meet that they were not seeded to win. With burgeoning confidence that has not been crushed by getting blown out, the coaches had runway to build our young swimmers, and get them ready to compete, despite the unfavorable position they have been in on a weekly basis. Our 13-14 girls and senior boys and girls are battle tested–every week they have been challenged by equally dominant swimmers, which means they are awake! By having to swim hard each week, their muscle-memory is set to race mode, and that makes them our ace in the hole…oh by the way, as I am about to get to, their swims will be the points that tip the meet back in our favor. Our 9-10 swimmers are the best in the NVSL, and also where Tuckahoe is at their weakest. As I have pointed out each week, momentum is what wins close meets–having an age group that can provide a surge of energy in the middle of a stroke can change the outcome of the proceeding races. Overlee has not swum in a very fast pool, where the meet was a nail-biter until Wednesday. Therefore, I am predicting major time drops, big swims from all age groups, and Overlee picking up enough points to win before the Mixed Age relays.
As we do each week, lets breakdown the meet by age group to highlight the key races, and identify where the meet can be won.
8-Under Events: Boys Free/Fly Girls Free/Back/Breast/Fly
With munchkins, all bets are off–when you get the little ones excited almost anything can happen, and they will race their hearts out against the swimmer next to them–expect a lot of this tomorrow morning! Tuckahoe has very strong 8-under boys, but in free and fly, Overlee will have a chance to really mess things up–Sully Portner will be right there at the finish with a bunch of Tiger swimmers in both races. The Overlee girls have proven to be very strong this year, and will need to keep swimming the way they have. Where Tuckahoe looks to sweep the points or overwhelmingly win on the boys side of things, our girls will come right back with an answer of their own in all three lanes. Tenths of a second will decide first through third in each event for the girls, and coming off a mid-week high, expect them to find a way to win the close ones.
Advantage: Lean Overlee
9-10 Events: Boys Back Girls Back/Fly
Our 9-10 age group will score the majority of the team points tomorrow. Both the boys and girls are the best in the NVSL, and will face a much weaker Tuckahoe group. Most of the races should end with Overlee sweeping the points, but Billy Weber will get a challenge in the backstroke, and Aida Young will face a very close challenger in fly. Almost more importantly, swimmers in lane two will be able to contend for second and third place. Every point this age group picks up cushions the blow Overlee will face in the older age groups.
11-12 Events: Boys Back/Breast Girls Free/Back/Breast/Fly/Relay
The 11-12 boys will switch roles with Tuckahoe’s 9-10 boys, where the Tigers will have two swimmers in almost every event that will compete for first and second; however, Tommy Weber will be fighting for critical points in backstroke, and Will Hart and Buddy Sleighter will come to the wall with the Tuckahoe swimmer in breaststroke, making it anyones race. The girls face an interesting situation where they could win the majority of the points in back and fly–Elysha York and Ashley Park have been a dynamic duo overwhelming their lane 3 foe all season. In free, Lauren Hartel and Elysha York are only tenths away from flipping the script and grabbing much needed points. Butterfly will be a race for first and a race for third–Ashley Park will be right with the girl next to her, while Audrey Hartel will need to keep up with the main group to outlast her competitor on the other side of the pool. Depending on which way these close races break, there could be enough points in the 11-12 age group to turn things in Overlee’s direction.
Advantage: Toss Up
13-14 Events: Boys Free/Breast/Fly Girls Free/Back/Fly/Relay
The 13-14 age group has proven resilient this season, never letting anyone overwhelm them. Ryan York will have a bunch of competition in the free, but he has continued to look better each week, and had the best meet of his life on Wednesday. In both the breast and fly, Tommy Shipley and Henry Poutasse will be right there to challenge for second place–though that may not sound like much, going from third to second is a four point swing–essentially buying Overlee a relay swim that we wont need to win down the road. These will be the biggest second place swims of the day, and are realistic goals with major consequences on the final outcome. The Overlee girls are incredible, and will look to challenge every race for the win. Though slated to split the points pretty evenly, keep an eye on the outside lanes in this age group because the real race will be for second and third. The girls relay will be the second closest of the 12 relays, and may very well be the winning swim!
Advantage: Toss Up
15-18 Events: Boys Free/Breast/Fly/Relay Girls Free/Back/Fly
The boys free will have 4 swimmers all under 25 seconds finishing together–Sam Ellison had a great performance on Wednesday, so watch him try to hold off a dominant heat. Paul Kinsella will be right with two swimmers neck and neck to the finish–we have been predicting a record breaking swim for three weeks, and this should be the meet where he gets it. The boys fly may be the best race of the day with the entire heat coming in under 28 seconds, leaving it to the touch to decide how the points will be doled out. Wednesday night featured the Overlee senior boys upsetting the league record holders from Tuckahoe in the Medley by a few hundredths–expect a fantastic rematch. The girls will have a few challenges of their own. Ellie Ridgeway will be battling two strong swimmers in both the free and fly, but if she swims her best race of the season, she could realistically walk away with two first place ribbons. Backstroke will be interesting, but I am predicting an upset–Mary Kate Reicherter swam a blazing 29 second 50 back to lead off her girls relay on Wednesday–I expect her and Kayle Park to go 1-2 and grab a bunch of unexpected points. This age group could not be more exciting to watch–if you have young swimmers with you, make sure they watch these races because this is what great swimming looks like!
Meet Prediction: Overlee 220-Tuckahoe 200
Overlee will win seven relays, and win the meet after the 15-18 boys medley that will re-break the league record. Overlee has an experienced group of senior leaders that have been in these adverse situations before. Understanding how to handle losing a race to a sweep is as important as winning a sweep itself. Every meet will have its highs and lows, and this meet will be full of them no matter how it goes. By staying positive and getting back up for the next race–finding victories in second and third place swims–taking advantage of the situation and stepping up big for the team will carry the Orange and White. There will be several dicey moments throughout the morning where things are not looking good, but behind the raw numbers on paper is a team of great competitors. The swimming strength is there, and now they just need to get out against great competition and show how good they really are. If you remember the 2011 Tuckahoe meet, expect an even better one playing out tomorrow morning!