Swimming: What to watch for at the District One Championships

It’s time for the county’s best public school swimmers to strut their stuff in the biggest meet of the season: The District One Championships. Full psych sheets, in PDF form, are available here for the boys and the girls. Let’s tease out a few of the key topics:

Radnor's Mitchell Gartland didn't have the best of swims at the Central League Championships. What does he have in store for the District One meet? (Times Staff / JULIA WILKINSON)

Radnor’s Mitchell Gartland didn’t have the best of swims at the Central League Championships. What does he have in store for the District One meet? (Times Staff / JULIA WILKINSON)

– Radnor did not swim well at the Central League Championships. That has me more intrigued then concerned. To me, it says they were getting pummeled by yardage ramping up for their taper, and that the drops this week will be precipitous. I think we’ll figure it out pretty quickly: The boys medley relay is the top seed, and that should be an accurate bellwether for the team’s performance.

– The girls 50 freestyle field is flush with Delco swimmers. There are four in the top nine – Summer Martin second, Samantha Campbell fourth, and last year’s PIAA qualifiers Mary Kate Boylan (eighth) and Kiera Wadsworth (ninth) – and six in the top 16. The 50 is always a free-for-all, but there are plenty of Delco hats in the ring.

– What can we expect out of Maddie Hart? After bursting onto the scene last year, it’s hard to say she’s been quiet this season, but she’s merely taken care of business, not unlike the low profile she kept last dual-meet season before uncorking some unbelievable times at districts. She was very fast in the 100 backstroke at Centrals and enters districts as the third seed in the 100 butterfly and second in the 100 back. Let’s see how she copes with the role of favorite.

– That girls 100 back is going to be crazy fast. It may take sub-58 seconds to make the automatic qualifying spots. For an at-large, given the quantity of contenders, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with a time over 59.0. Tatyana Smolyansky should be in the conversation (seeded fifth at 58.97). And that depth directly informs …

– … The Delco entrants in the 500 free, namely Frances Resweber (seeded ninth) and Kylene Ronayne (13th). Neither is primarily a distance swimmer, and I suspect if they had their druthers, they’d be in the 100 back. But the 500 is a path of less resistance to states. The top four seeds enter with times under 5:09, then a drop-off to 5:13. If Resweber and Ronayne can get into that 5:10 area and place fifth or sixth, they could book tickets. Those are major time drops, but consider this: Resweber hasn’t competed in the 500 since posting her seed time of 5:15.50 Jan. 15 against Radnor. Ronayne posted her seed time of 5:19.42 Jan. 14 against Ridley. That’s eight weeks for them to shift the focus onto distance training. I envision time being dropped in chunks.

– Another beneficiary of a shift in focus could be Strath Haven’s Clay Resweber. Upper Dublin’s Christopher Devlin, who enters with the fastest seed time by 1.5 seconds, is likely to win the 200 free. That speed seems to have pushed a lot of names – like Ivan Michalovic and Philip Nawn – toward the 200 IM. As a result, Resweber may find an easier path to states in the 200 free, where he’s seeded sixth at 1:45.22. He went 1:44.39 last year; if he can go 1:43-low, I think he’s headed to states. He’s also seeded 10th in the 100 free, always a more difficult race to predict.

– Speaking of the boys 200 IM, Nawn is seeded seventh with a 1:58.19. That’s fast. The top 12 seeds are all under two minutes. It’s going to take something very special to carve out a top-four finish.

Andrew Woerth is a brave man. He’s going to dare to dream of doubles: Tackling the 50 free and 100 fly not just on the same day, but in back-to-back events. I think (but I’m not sure) there’s a break to present medals in between there, so he gets a little time to rest. He’s seeded ninth in the 50 free, meaning a favorable lane placement, and 10th in the 100 fly.

– Let’s talk relays. On the girls side, I wonder if Heather McShea’s strong 100 free at Centrals and Emily Moyher’s recent success in the sprints has emboldened Radnor to go after the 400 free relay. They’re seeded sixth there as opposed to 14th in the medley. We’ll see if Ridley’s girls medley can make good on their fifth seed, a spot behind a Haverford squad that seems a safe bet to repeat at states. In the girls 200 free relay, Haven’s Central League championship squad is seeded fourth, while the Fords are seventh. On the boys side, Radnor’s burden as the top seed in the medley is magnified (for my purposes at least) by the absence of a Delco squad in the next 16 seeds. Expect Strath Haven (seeded 10th) and Haverford (11th) to go full bore for the 200 free relay, while the Fords (seventh) have a stronger 400 free squad to fall back on.

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