The largest invitational of its kind in the United States will be back for its 32nd installment Saturday and Sunday as more than 2,900 swimmers from more than 100 schools hit the pool for the Southwest Ohio High School Swimming & Diving Classic.
Boys and girls high school swimmers will compete at nine different locations for preliminaries both days. Swimming finals will take place at St. Xavier’s Keating Natatorium both days and the diving finals will be at the University of Cincinnati on Sunday.
“Being two days makes it pretty demanding and the scope of the meet makes it extremely competitive,” St. Xavier coach Jim Brower said. “It’s definitely a highlight meet for the season. Outside the championship events at the end of the season, it’s definitely the biggest meet of the season for us, and probably for a lot of teams.”
In addition to the quality and quantity of competition, the meet allows swimmers to compete in longer NCAA and USA Swimming events in addition to the usual in high school events.
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“It helps kind of break up some of the things we’re doing right now, the competition we’re doing,” Ursuline coach Brad Isham said. “It offers some events that aren’t normally offered at high school meets, which is a great opportunity for the kids. It’s a nice change of pace.
“It’s different from previous meets leading up to this in that it is an opportunity to compete against the best swimmers in the area. So they definitely get a little more excited for the meet and you see a little more effort and a little more focus.”
With so many swimmers from so many teams, coaches will have a great opportunity to see what the other swimmers in the area are doing and where their swimmers stand.
“All of our kids will get to swim a lot of individual events,” St. Ursula coach Ann Gartner said.
Most of the regular season in high school swimming is spent experimenting in getting the right kids with the best times in the right events in preparation for the postseason meets. No other regular-season meet in the area offers a better chance to see possible postseason contenders.
“It’s a good opportunity to judge your team against the best teams and best swimmers in the area,” Isham said.
In addition to getting a look at the competition, coaches and swimmers will get a taste of what awaits during the postseason — two-day grinds with preliminaries and top competition.
“This one prepares us better than any just because when we get to the state championships, they run prelims on one day and the finals on the other,” Brower said. “So it’s a two-day ordeal like this meet. This one really taxes. Mentally and physically, it is very taxing. I think it’s really good preparation for the two most important things — the mental and the physical intensity of the meet.”
Brower’s Bombers have won this event every year and will be the favorites for a 32nd straight Southwest Ohio High School Swimming & Diving Classic title, but the emphasis will remain on preparation.
“We use our meets during the season to learn how to race and compete and we’re going to use it to help us,” Brower said. “In that sense, it’s self-serving to help us prepare for the end of the season. Any time you suit up, you’re trying to be competitive and try to win if you have a chance, but I don’t think there is really a lot of pressure to hold on to a 32nd championship. If we’re good enough, we’ll pull it off. If it comes down to the last relay, it might give us a spark.”
Scholarship Fund: Proceeds, donations and sponsor advertising from the event help the Southwest Ohio Swimming Officials Association maintain an athlete scholarship fund through and for the 14th year, the SWOSOA will offer six $750 scholarships to three senior boys and three senior girls this year. Last year’s recipients were Indian Hill’s Drew Rice, Little Miami’s Mitchel Beerse, Dayton Oakwood’s Wending Zhu, Colerain’s Kayley Tepe, Madeira’s Allison Dicke and Versailles’s Hannah Marshal.
Preliminaries: Saturday, 1 p.m. tentative at Miami University, Mason Community Center, Milford High School, Trotwood-Madison High School
Finals: Sunday, 9 a.m. at the University of Cincinnati
Preliminaries: Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. at Countryside YMCA, Dayton Raider Aquatic Center (DRAC), Miami University (A & B), Mason High School, Milford High School, Trotwood-Madison High School, West Carrolton YMCA
Finals: Saturday and Sunday, 6:30 p.m. at Keating Natatorium, St. Xavier High School