The girls swim season is upon us, even if the usually packed, raucous meets will be a little more subdued this winter. The official attendance at last winter's state championship at the IUPUI Natatorium was 4,129 – these days, the governor's executive order stipulates that events held in any county under the orange designation (which includes all local counties as well as all of the Indianapolis area) are limited to 50 attendees, unless a safety plan is submitted and approved.
But even in these odd and challenging circumstances, championships and record-breaking swims are still up for grabs.
Carroll: The Chargers have been the top local team at the state meet in each of the last two years (they were fifth last season, and tied for third in 2019). Their most notable strength has been in the relays: They won the 200 medley, 200 free and 400 free at the South Side Sectional last year, and took second in each of those races at the state meet. Each of those relays has three swimmers returning.
Homestead: The Spartans have won three straight sectional titles (their current total stands at 19), and nearly all of the swimmers who competed at last year's sectional meet are returning this winter.
Concordia: The Cadets are the reigning SAC champions. Diver Madison Gleave has graduated, as have four other all-SAC honorees from the 2019-20 season, but the Cadets have two all-conference honorees and other strong swimmers back for this season.
Warsaw: The Tigers had their streak of three straight sectional titles broken last season as they lost to Culver Academies by 12 points. They'll miss graduates Taylor Gunter and Melissa Deming, but they still a number of experienced swimmers back for this season.
Norwell: The Knights took second at the Jay County Sectional last season. The graduation of Alyssa Cyrus is a big loss, but Sarah Mahnensmith and Aubreyan Heyerly should give Norwell reason for optimism this season.
Teagen Moon, Carroll: Now a senior, Moon was the runner-up in the 100-yard butterfly at last year's state meet and was a member of three relay teams that took second place at the state meet. She officially signed with Purdue last week.
Mya DeWitt, Carroll: DeWitt was also a member of those three second-place relay teams and finished second in the 100-yard backstroke at the state championships, where she set the school record in that event in 53.79.
Kyra Tonsil, Homestead: The junior won the 50-yard freestyle at both the 2019 and 2020 South Side Sectional meets, and took seventh in the event at last year's state meet.
Audrey Crowel, Homestead: The senior won the 200 free at the South Side Sectional in each of the last two years and took seventh place at the state meet in 1:51.39. She also qualified for the state meet in the 100 fly, where she finished 10th.
Anna Yaggy, Bishop Dwenger: The Saints senior was the top finisher in the 1-meter dive at both the SAC and South Side Sectional meets. She was second among local finishers at the state meet in 13th place with 425.5 points (Concordia graduate Madison Gleave took 10th place with 440.15).
Keeping coronavirus off the deck: We're now beginning the fourth high school sports season to be touched by COVID-19, but what the pandemic means for this girls swim season remains almost impossible to guess. We know that fan attendance will be restricted as the season begins, and that some meets will clear out between different sessions (say, between diving and swimming events) to reduce the number of contestants and spectators in the building at one time. But only time will tell if the season will be marred by canceled meets or athletes being quarantined.
Test for dry land training: While some sports allow athletes to train in just about any circumstances, swimmers and divers do almost all of theirs in public facilities that were closed for months during the shutdown. Coaches might have given their swimmers dry land workouts to complete on their own, but the times from this winter season could go a long way to showing exactly how much year-round pool training benefits high school swimmers.
Carroll vs. Homestead: In each of the last two seasons, Homestead has won the sectional title, while Carroll has come out ahead at the state championships. Will one team be able to come out ahead in both meets this season.
Home of champions: Carroll swimmers finished second in five separate events but didn't have a winner in any event at the 2020 meet. (Carroll's Mallory Jackson won the 100 back in 2019.) Can DeWitt, Moon, a Chargers relay team or any other swimmers from the area win an event at states this year?
Death, taxes and Carmel swimming: The Greyhounds' grip on the state title seems as secure as ever after Carmel won its 34th straight championship in 2020. And it doesn't seem as if any competitor is closing in: The Greyhounds won by 218.5 points last year, and 245.5 points the year before that. No runner-up has come within 100 points of Carmel in the final standings since 2007-08, when Hamilton Southeastern was “only” 69.5 points behind.