The final meet of the NVSL season is upon us, boosters, and you already know what that means–the undefeated Chesterbrook Tiger Sharks will compete against the undefeated Overlee Flying Fish for the Division 1 championship! In what has become an annual clash of the titans between the two strongest summer swim teams in Northern Virginia, and arguable the DC area–if not country– both teams will converge on Overlee pool, looking to hold the coveted league crown! Since 2001, only one other team (VAC) has won the league championship. In this century, Overlee has won 7 D1 titles, while Chesterbrook has won 8. In fact, Overlee and Chesterbrook have won every jewel of the triple crown since 2001 (51) except for 5 (VAC won the triple crown in 2005, Tuckahoe won D1 relays in 2011, McLean won Allstar Relays in 2013)! While Overlee and Chesterbrook suffered brief down years during that span of time, it has been all OVL and CST since 2008. Every season has come down to the final meet, and this year is no different.
Overlee comes into the meet with both the Division 1 relay and Allstar relay crowns, and a 4-0 record, having defeated their divisional foes by 64 points on average. Chesterbrook has two second place finishes in the relay meets, and a 4-0 record, averaging a whopping 118.5 point margin over each team they have swum. Taking these points into account, there is very little that separates Overlee and Chesterbrook. On paper, Chesterbrook defeats Overlee by 20 points, with both teams slated to win six relays a piece, making this meet as close as can be to predict. This is why Overlee will win!
On a yearly basis, Overlee starts the season as enormous underdogs to Chesterbrook based on week 1 times–this year had the meet been swum in June, Overlee would have lost by over 100 points. However, as we have made the point in previous predictions, Overlee is a team that continues to progress and develop over the course of the season. While most D1 teams enter the season with their swimmers as good as they are going to get from swimming year round, Overlee is largely composed of good athletes that need about 6 weeks to get their water conditioning and technique back. Over the course of the season, we have seen the Flying Fish erase deficits, including their seed to lose both D1 relays and the Tuckahoe meet. The other primary factor Overlee has going for them is their overall momentum–from talking to the coaches (which can be seen here) they have purposefully managed their training regimen so as not to burn out the swimmers, giving them breaks from hard workouts, playing games at practice, and generally keeping the atmosphere light when possible. Don’t get me wrong–the Orange and White have been gearing up for this fight all summer long, but maintaining peak excitement and energy over the course of a 5 week season through 7 challenging meets is no small task. Overlee comes into this meet hungry to win back their D1 crown, and cap off a successful triple crown season!
Below, we break down the meet with the races to watch, as we try to find the moments where Overlee can erase their deficit and come out on top. In a meet like this, the race is not to the winning mark of 210.5, but to getting over the 180 mark in the individual events. If both teams are expected to win half the relays, which equals 30 points to count on, the meet will be won in effect before we get into the second half of the meet.
*note* There will hardly be a race that is a sure thing in this meet, where virtually any race could cut into that 20 point deficit, or balloon in the other direction–just watch the whole thing!
8-Under Events: Boys Free/Back/Fly/Relay Girls Free/Back
Many a Chesterbrook meet has been decided by the 8-under age group because you never truly know what this group might do. When each event has to get started by kids who have only been swimming competitively for a couple of years, you cannot be quite sure if they are awake and pumped up to swim, until after the race ends and the times are on the board. The boys will have every opportunity to mess things up for Chesterbrook–the winner of free will be decided in the flags, with an important third place point also up for grabs, and backstroke will be the same story. The boys look safe to win fly behind Sully Portner, and could win a critical third with 6 year old Brian Kinsella in lane 5! The girls will be pushed to win big points, with 5 swimmers coming to the wall together in free and back, leaving everything to be decided by who swims the best race, regardless of the lane. The Chesterbrook boys DQed their relay on Wednesday; however, Overlee still swam a faster time than they did, and only finished a second behind them the week before–this could be a close one to start off the relay portion of the morning.
Advantage: Lean Chesterbrook
9-10 Events: Boys Breast/Fly Girls Free/Breast/Fly
The 9-10’s continue to be critical to Overlee’s success, with two safe relay swims essentially in the bag, and expected top points with room to grab more. The girls free will be close at the end, but could end with Overlee taking first and second, while the breast looks to have the makings of a sweep. The girls fly race will be one of the best swims of the day, with a bunch of swimmers in contention to score at a critical moment in the meet. Billy Weber looks untouchable in free and back, and Overlee should also pick up third in each event. Evan Ingraham will be challanged some in breast and fly, but Rory McNamara and Matthew Aslaksen are the real swimmers to keep an eye on as they try to steal second place points in these events!
11-12 Events: Boys Back/Fly Girls Free/Back/Fly/Relay
The 11-12 age group is Chesterbrook’s strongest age group by far–the girls cruised to top finishes in each event at Allstars on Wednesday, and their boys finished in the top 4 in both relays. This was a similar reality last week at Tuckahoe; however, both the boys and girls truly disrupted the outcome at that meet by stepping up to steal points when it mattered the most. Tommy Weber will have a big day trying to challenge their top swimmer in back and fly–both races he could win if he has his best race of the year, while his support staff in the outside lanes will be in the picture to grab a third place. For the girls, Chesterbrook is swimming their best freestyle swimmer up, opening the door for Lauren Hartel and Elysha York to jump into the points with big swims. In the back, Elysha York and Ashley Park have been a two girl wrecking crew this season, surprising a faster seeded lane 4 swimmer–watch out for a similar result tomorrow. Ashley will be back in the fly–though seeded almost a second back, she upset the Tuckahoe swimmer last week in a similar situation, and has been dealing opposing teams major blows all season, so watch out. Chesterbrook looks to be swimming their best swimmer up in the 13-14 relay if the meet is still close, which puts this relay in play if the girls are having a good day.
13-14 Events Boys Free/Breast/Fly/Relay Girls Free/Back/Breast/Fly/Relay
The Overlee boys have thrived this season playing the upset role, picking up points they had no business winning. Ryan York will be pushed hard in the free, but has looked nearly unbeatable head to head this season. Though on paper the breast looks to be a scramble to hold on to third, Tommy Shipley and Henry Poutasse have won firsts and seconds this year they were not seeded within 3 seconds of winning, so you cannot overlook them in this race. Henry will need to show his swagger in the fly, as Chesterbrook will challenge him to grab first and second. In a 100 medley, these boys can compete with anyone, and if the meet still depends on it, I would give them a chance to win their relay. The girls have a full slate of big races. Alice Bruce will get a challenge by a 12 and 13 year old for first although Emmie Ridgeway has looked phenomenal in the relays lately, and Elyse Hartmann has consistently improved, making this race a 5 person sprint to the finish for points. Last week Alice Bruce was able to nab third from lane 6 to complete the sweep, and the girls will look to do it again here with Alexis Lee and Kate Bailey in relatively safe territory to go 1-2. Sophia Grabman will get her best competition of the season in a phenomenal breaststroke race that will come down to the reach. Fly will be a repeat of free with 5 people all coming to the wall together, but realistically leans Overlee’s way with Kate Bailey, Alexis Lee and Emmie Ridgeway in position to score. The girls are the best 100 medley in the league, but with Chesterbrook looking to move their best 11-12 up into this race, it makes things much more interesting, but I doubt they will make up over 2 seconds to beat this team.
15-18 Events: Boys Free/Back/Breast/Fly/Relay Girls Free/Back/Breast/Fly
The seniors will have their work cut out for them as both teams are very strong and deep in this age group. The only sure thing is the senior girls relay, which is the best in league history. The girls free will be a good challenge, but with Kayle Park and Ellie Ridgeway in there, they could find themselves walking away with an important 1-2. Mary Kate Reicherter has looked untouchable in back this season, and is closing in on Suzanne Dolan’s team record–she will get a close challenge, but expect Overlee to at the very least take first and third with Michaela Morrison on hand. Kayle Park will win the girls breast by two body lengths, but Michaela Morrison and Mary Kate Reicherter will be pushing hard to complete the sweep. Ellie Ridgeway will be fighting to stave off tough swimmers on either side of her in the fly, but should win if she swims her best race.
The senior boys will be the momentum pendulum Saturday, with every race close enough to either fuel the fire, or take the air out of the building. Sam Ellison should win the free, and Paul Kinsella and Jonathan Day will be a part of the conversation for the remaining points, which would be a huge pick up early in the day. Nick Pasternak is seeded to get third in back, but give him a ton of credit–Nick has only lost a handful of swims in his swimming career, and most of them came to his own teammate–Ryan Baker–over the past two years–this is up for grabs. Paul Kinsella continues his tour of breaststroke challenges against the opposing team’s best swimmer–he will have his hands full, but is in a great position to break the 30 second mark–Sam Ellison will have a big responsibility holding third place in this one from lane 5. Last week, the Overlee senior men stole 1-2-3 in a dead heat in the fly–Nick and Jonathan Day will be back in the same race with two contenders from the other side, so watch out for some fireworks! This year the record book has taken a beating in the 15-18 boys medley, with three teams, including Overlee, resetting the mark throughout the season. Chesterbrook’s current seed time would have threatened the original record, but I think the Overlee men will be ultimately too much to handle in another great clash!
Meet Prediction: Overlee 225-Chesterbrook 195
Overlee looks safe enough in many of their critical positions, and are threatening in a number of toss ups. If Overlee is winning after backstroke, they will win the meet. There are too many momentum winning opportunities in this, and, similar to relay carnival, if Chesterbrook starts to fall off their top seeds, it becomes a slippery slope holding off a charging Overlee team. I think this is actually Overlee’s meet to lose. They have proven to be not only the improving team all season long, but the consistent team. The Flying Fish have made next to no critical mistakes, where Chesterbrook has continually killed themselves in dire moments with disqualifications. Expect a lot of emotion to be a big driver as well–with senior recognition at home, Overlee tends to gain inspiration that flows throughout the squad. Furthermore, home pool advantage has been an enormous decider in this rivalry. In this decade, each pool has only won 1 meet on the road (Chesterbrook 2013, Overlee 2014)–in fact, 2013 is the only time Overlee has lost to Chesterbrook at home since 2005. Given it is Overlee’s 60th anniversary, there will a crowd packed full of alumni, parents, and boosters of every stripe. I like our chances in this one tomorrow, and will be cheering on the Flying Fish!