Our Week 2 Meets of the Week feature teams in the middle divisions of the NVSL, all of which started 2018 with a win. Furthermore, from our perspective, we believe this weekend will be critical in determining the outcome for the divisional crown in D3, D4, D6, and D11. This is because week 2 in the NVSL features the 1 seed vs the 6 seed, the 2 seed vs the 4 seed and the 3 seed vs the 5 seed–while in the upper divisions this can create lopsided matchups, most of the league should have a very competitive contest. This is because the 6 seed should be a team that moved up from a lower division after winning or finishing near the top a season ago, and the 1 seed is the team that dropped out of a higher division into their current tier. This weekend, all of our featured meets, with the exception of Vienna Woods vs Virginia Run, have been forged into existence by this reality. In the process of having two teams come together who were each in different divisions a year ago, we are virtually guaranteed a great meet that will come down to slight advantages in age groups, genders, relays, and intangible factors that will dictate momentum over the course of the morning! With that said, our Ninjas have poured through the data, and have broken down the matchups to identify potentially decisive moments in determining the outcome of each meet; however, bear in mind that the score is 0-0 on Friday and the clocks read 00:00–nothing is official until the swimmers hit the finish!
Fair Oaks (FO Sharks) and Villa Aquatic (VA Gorillas) meet in Division 6 after the Sharks went 1-4 in D5 in 2017 and VA won D8 going 5-0! After convincing week 1 victories, both teams stand out as potential divisional champions, but first, they must dual in week 2! The two teams match up very well with each other, boasting strong age groups that will take the lions-share of points possible when they take the pool. However, in order to win on Saturday, each team will have to limit the damage the other team inflicts, while scrapping for every last point early on. This meet should remain within a few points until butterfly, where Fair Oaks has a decisive advantage, especially among their younger swimmers who seem to have grasped the difficult short-axis stroke early on in the season. However, because it is early in the season, the possibility for massive time drops among 12-under swimmers remains high, as summer practices begin to develop strength and technical skills in kids who only swim during the summer. On paper, Fair Oaks should win this meet by about 40 points although there are too many races to name early in the meet that could flip either way. VA needs to come into the Shark tank fired up and ready to go, and get momentum on their side early on if they are going to erase that deficit. If Fair Oaks is winning after backstroke, this will be a tough meet for the Gorillas to climb back into. While trading blows back and forth, the key here is cutting into the major point pickups each team’s top age groups are scheduled to score:
Let’s break this meet down by strengths and weaknesses
*Predictions are based on seed times/available data*
8-Under Boys (VA): The little Gorillas can set the tone early on in each event for Villa aquatic by grabbing points in bunches. They are seeded to win 22 of 36 possible individual points, including a sweep of the 9 points in breaststroke, and win their relay. Nothing gets the sidelines bumping like winning a close race with the little ones, but they will be challenged heavily in free, with only hundredths of a second separating Grant Goltry of Villa from Luke Joung of FO. Though seeded to take 2nd in fly by half a second, this is one of VA’s best opportunities to complete a 4-point swing by stepping up and winning a race in the stroke that will be the Gorillas toughest obstacle in keeping the meet close Saturday.
8-Under Girls (FO): The young Sharks are a major mismatch in this contest–seeded to take 35 of 36 points, Fair Oaks’ munchkins have the ability to sweep all four races and win the relay decisively. However, back and breast are both good opportunities for Villa’s little ladies to sneak into points and give their team a small step forward that will contribute towards the much larger goal of winning the meet. Because it is early in the season, don’t be surprised to see a young Gorilla pull out an amazing swim and give VA a major boost in an age group they are currently lacking in. With that said, Fair Oaks has a number of very strong young swimmers in this age group that the team can count on to rack up points throughout the day.
11-12 Boys (FO): The 11-12 Sharks are a dangerous bunch, currently seeded to score 32 of 36 points for their team. There are openings for VA to steal away a point or two here in back and breast, but for the most part, Fair Oaks will lead wire to wire with their top swimmer in lane 3 and have company at the wall before the Gorillas are able to get there. Landing heavy blows in the middle of each stroke can do a lot to build momentum for older swimmers standing behind the lanes in a close meet, often causing issues for a team trying to catch up.
11-12 Girls (VA): Fortunately, Villa will be able to respond well to the boys with their strong female swimmers in the age group. In taking as many as 25 points here, Villa will limit the damage caused by the Fair Oaks boys and give their team something to cheer for. There is a possibility to sweep breaststroke and steal second in free, but the Gorillas cannot bleed points in fly, which will be a nailbiter for 3rd place–though only 1 point, that finish could be handy in determining how many relays the Gorillas would need to win at the end of the meet to bring home a victory.
9-10 Girls (FO): Villa’s 11-12 girls will need to serve as a major block for their team because the Sharks pack a 1-2 punch with their 9-10 girls leading to their 11-12 boys. Scoring 29 of 36 points is a devastating amount to give up, especially given that the Sharks will be relatively unchallenged in breast and fly. Villa could flip the 6 points FO is supposed to win in freestyle and make things much more interesting in this age group, but that would require some impressive time drops to put them in range of their competition. Backstroke will be Villa’s best chance to grab an important 5 points, so watch for a great race there.
15-18 Girls (VA): Between strong 8-under boys and dominant senior ladies, the Gorillas can start and end each event on the right foot. If the big girls can bring home 30+ points for their team in individual events, they have done their job. Expect decisive point pickups in free, back and fly from this bunch–their toughest test will be in backstroke, which Macey Lynch should still win convincingly.
15-18 Boys (FO): Led by one of the most noteworthy swimmers in the DC area, and Swim Ninja preseason First Team Selection, Anthony Grimm, the Senior Sharks are absolute trouble. After rewriting most of the 13-14 league records and finding himself at the top of the 15-18 league leaders, Grimm will hardly be challenged in breast and fly. He will get great support from his boys, who will help score this age group nearly 30 points. Villa will contend for first in free and second in breast and fly, which would bolster the Gorilla’s efforts to flip the script in this meet
There is no easy prediction for this meet, which makes it a thrilling matchup! Both teams will be right near each other through the first half of the meet, and if Villa can grab a few points here and there, and hold onto momentum then they will give themselves a real chance at winning. Fair Oaks cannot bank on anything and must get after this meet from the beginning to set themselves up well. They are seeded to score 7 relays, but 2 will be very close, requiring the Sharks to go into the final portion of the meet with a lead if they hope to win. Our final prediction is Fair Oaks winning 220-200, which is essentially as close as anyone can call it–if Villa steals those two relays, its a 20 point swing, and would result in a tie, so make sure to check back here for the race videos and a recap of one of the best meets to go off this weekend!
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