High school swimmers ready for nation’s largest pool party

Think winning a state title in swimming is difficult? Try winning a championship at the Southwest Ohio Classic. That’s the challenge this weekend as about 123 teams, nearly 3,000 swimmers and 160 divers kick off their competitive season at the 30th Southwest Classic on Saturday and Sunday.

Of the 40 teams that finished in the top 10 at state in both the boys and girls Division I and Division II meets, 18 were from the Southwest District. Nine teams finished among the top 16 overall, led by Cincinnati St. Xavier’s fourth straight D-I boys title. The Bombers have also won all 29 Classic boys titles.

“It’s a big deal to win an individual event because there’s a lot of tough competition,” said Classic co-director Tom Schoborg. “It’s a really good time to start seeing who you’re going to be up against and how fast they are swimming. It’s always amazing to me to see how fast the swimmers are coming out of their tough Christmas break practices. A lot of them were doing two-a-day and three-a-day practices.”

The meet is held at nine different locations around the Southwest District. All swimming final events are held at St. Xavier High School. Diving finals are at the University of Cincinnati. For a complete list of school sites, the schedule and psych sheets, visit www. swimmeet.com.

“As far as we know, this is the biggest high school event in the country far and away,” Schoborg said of the all-volunteer event.

Sweet 16: The fastest 16 times overall from the nine locations advance to the evening finals at St. Xavier. Expect to see Mason’s Zoe Thatcher there. She’s posted some of the district’s fastest times in the 200 freestyle and 500 free. Lakota East’s Abby McConnell is among the favorites to win the 1-meter diving event. And watch out for Oakwood. The Jills boast perhaps the deepest roster to challenge D-I state runner-up and three-time defending Classic champ Cincinnati Ursuline.

Others to watch include Centerville’s Marisa Pulaski, Carroll’s Marissa Lehman, Mason’s Maureen Sullivan, Springfield Catholic Central’s Ragen Engel, Springfield Shawnee’s Kendra Crew, Troy’s Michelle Zelnick and Xenia’s Megan Carlson.

On the boys side, Mason’s Sean Sargent has the Southwest District’s best score in 1-meter diving (according to swimmeet.com) and Oakwood’s Brock Turner has the district’s fastest 500 free time. Others to watch include Centerville’s Josh Brooks and Jacob Carlsen, Beavercreek’s Henrik Pohlman, Mason’s Eric Chen, Springfield Catholic Central’s Jeff Ross, Talawanda’s Scott Richmond, Versailles’ Mitchel Stover and Xenia’s Andrew Cole, among others. Just like the girls, Oakwood’s boys are strong enough to challenge St. Xavier’s dominance.

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