Little Rocky Run and Vienna Aquatic have both floated around the top few divisions over the past decade, making this matchup a semi-regular occurrence that brings a touch of rivalry given how familiar the two teams are with one and other. The Stingrays are the reigning D2 champions after a very impressive 4-1 2017 season–The Gators went 3-2 in D3, setting up a three-way tie, prompting their eventual jump up to the penultimate division in the NVSL. Both teams have a number of stand out swimmers, with VAC boasting 2 Preseason All Swim Ninja selections. This meet looks to be a slugfest, with each team taking big points in a few critical areas, and otherwise playing roughly even with one and other throughout the meet. On paper, Little Rocky Run has a notable advantage, going into relays up 194-164, needing only 4 relay wins to claim a week 1 victory.
Let’s break down this meet by Strengths and Weaknesses
*Predictions are based on seed times/available data*
VAC has a number of very strong coaches who spend the rest of the year working with age group swimmers at the club level, which would explain their strength in developing younger swimmers. On paper, the Gators look to have a decisive advantage by nearly double the points in the munchkin age group, which they will need to come through for them if they are going to compete with LRR. Getting little kids excited to race, especially at the beginning of the season is a quick way to pick up needed additional points!
Not only is this a strong bunch for the Stingrays, the 13-14 boys and girls is a chink in the armor for VAC. Based on seeds alone, Little Rocky Run could score 56 of the 72 total points in this age group alone–if this holds, that would be over a quarter of the total points needed to win the meet at 210.5. Furthermore, the 13-14 age group is situated within the flow of the meet to be able to shift momentum one way or the other–because of that, VAC may be able to set their sites on picking up a few key 2nd and 3rd place points just to cut into that deficit, and fire up their senior swimmers.
If the 13-14s can provide the assist and give the Gators something to rally around, they have a few big-time players in Jack Galbraith and Anna Keating–Jack, A preseason second-team selection, should dominate his two races in back and fly, which may inspire a few younger athletes to step up, if not his senior teammates. Anna will be safe in her strong suit, breaststroke, but will have a steep challenge against Emily Drakopoulos in fly. The Gators need to maximize their primetime players as much as possible, but be wary of giving LRR a wave of momentum to ride into the relay portion of the meet.
11-12 Girls (LRR)
Little Rocky Run’s 11-12 girls should at most give up only 3 points total–combined with the strength of the proceeding 13-14 Stingrays, LRR may go on a run in the middle of each stroke that kills the energy on the home team sideline. VAC has to find ways to cut into this groups total.
11-12 Boys (VAC)
Though the girls have their work cut out for them, their male counterparts should be equally dominant, ceding only 4 points to their Stingray rivals. This meet is full of tradeoffs seemingly race after race, and in order to turn the tide in their favor, VAC has a strong group of swimmers right in the middle of the meet to rely heavily on.
The Back Half (LRR)
After Boys 25 Breast the meet should still be very close–on paper, it’s 4 points! However, Little Rocky Run somehow stretches that to 30 points over the remaining 19 races of the morning. The continual hemorrhaging in the point margin could prove fatal in this week 1 matchup, and set LRR up to start the season 1-0
VAC and LRR have more even matchups across the age groups than they do major disparities–however, Little Rocky Run tends to be on the better side of that trend. It is hard to take anything on paper too seriously before the first competitive meet of the summer has happened, but VAC needs to swim drastically better in nearly every race of the day down to the third places to erase this deficit and give themselves a chance in relays. I think ultimately the returning champs will be too much to handle and win this meet 230-190. However, if VAC is winning by 8 or more points after backstroke, they have effectively cut their deficit in half, and put the Stingrays in a situation of needing 6 or 7 relays to win the meet, which will make things much closer if it comes to that!