Some things in high school swimming remain the same, like the traditional strength of Division I-Class 5A. A realignment of schools may make Division III-Class 3A the most intriguing competition during the Louisiana High School Athletic Association’s Swimming Championships.
“You’ve got a bunch of teams who have won state before in one group,” Episcopal coach Alex Rayner said. “The competition is going to be really tough.”
Action begins Wednesday with preliminary heats for teams in Division II-4A and Division IV-2A and below at Sulphur’s SPAR Aquatic Center. Races for Division IV begin at 10 a.m., followed by Division II action at 4 p.m. Thursday’s finals for Division IV start at 9:30 a.m., with Division II set for 3 p.m.
Division III prelims start Friday at 10 a.m. with Division I races set for 4 p.m. The four-day meet concludes Saturday with Division III finals at 9:30 a.m. and Division I finals at 3 p.m.
The realignment leaves just a handful of teams from the Baton Rouge metro area in Divisions II and IV. That group includes Baton Rouge Magnet High and Central in Division II, along with The Dunham School and Runnels in Division IV.
BRHS’ Martin Braun (third in boys 200-yard individual medley,100 breaststroke) leads the Division II group. East Iberville’s Claudia Apsey (first in girls, 500 freestyle, second 200 freestyle).
Dunham’s Olivia Huffman (second in 100 freestyle, 100 backstroke) and Christian Life’s Anna Morris (second, 100 breaststroke) are other top girls entrants.
The stakes in Division I continue to be high for Catholic High and St. Joseph’s. SJA was the girls runner-up to Northshore-Slidell by 25.5 points last season. Catholic finished third to Jesuit-New Orleans and Fontainebleau with 29 points separating the three teams.
“We don’t put much stock in the premeet psyche sheet,” Catholic coach Doug Logsdon said.
“People move up or go down based on how they do. For us, its simple ? we have to swim fast in prelims and even faster in the finals.”
St. Joseph’s coach Lyle Robelot adds, “It looks like Northshore is 51 points ahead, and Fontainebleau and Mandeville factor in. We have work to do, but it’s not impossible.”
Three local swimmers have top qualifying marks in Division I.
Catholic’s Grant Grenfell (boys 100 butterfly, 100 backstroke) and Dutchtown’s Alyssa Dilldine (girls 200 and 500 freestyles) have top marks in two events. SJA’s Cameron Balkom (girls 100 breaststroke) is the other top qualifier.
The Division III meet features nine teams that won titles or finished in the top three in Divisions II, III and IV last season. Vandebilt Catholic-Houma swept the Division II boys-girls titles last season. St. Louis Catholic and Lutcher, runners-up a year ago, also move to Division III.
Girls champion E.D. White Catholic-Thibodaux, runner-up Sacred Heart-New Orleans and Parkview lead the list of Division III holdovers. University High, winner of a string of Division IV girls titles including one in 2010, moves up. So do St. Charles Catholic-LaPlace and Episcopal, a top three finisher for boys and girls.
“Preliminaries are going to be so important,” Parkview coach Kate Cramer said. “Being seeded 10th and getting in the top eight or being 18th, and getting in the top 16 will be a big deal. In the finals, the goal is to move up even more.”
Parkview Baptist’s John Miller (boys 200, 500 freestyles) and University’s Caroline Forbes (girls 50, 100 freestyles) are seeded first in two individual events. U-High’s Clay Furr (boys 100 butterfly) and Emily Rush (girls 100 breaststroke) are other top seeds.