A few weeks after the girls hit the water, the boys swimmers and divers are about to join them in the water. As with all winter sports, swim and dive meets will likely be greatly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and most of the schools in Northeast Indiana will be under strict attendance limitations for the foreseeable future.
But despite all the complications, boys meets are allowed to begin today, and the season will build to sectional championships Feb. 18 and 20 and the state finals Feb. 26 and 27.
Cameron Luarde, Homestead: The Spartans senior finished seventh at the 2020 state meet in the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke and was a member on the 400 free relay and 200 medley relay teams that finished eighth and ninth, respectively. He won both individual events at the South Side Sectional.
Chandler Lipp, Carroll: Now a senior, Lipp was a member of the 200 free relay team that tied for second, the 400 free relay that took third and the 200 medley relay that finished 11th at last year's state meet. He won the 100 free at the South Side Sectional and then was 19th in the prelims at the state meet.
Owen Dankert, Carroll: The Chargers sophomore qualified for the state meet in the 500 free as a freshman last year, finishing 22nd in the prelims. He will be the top-returning qualifier in the South Side Sectional in both the 200 and 500 free events.
Finlay Brooks, Concordia: The Cadets senior finished fifth in both the 50 free and 100 butterfly at state meet as a junior. He will be the top returner in both events at the South Side Sectional now that Carroll's Tristan DeWitt has graduated.
Jack Ringger, Bluffton: Last year as a junior, Ringger won the 100 breaststroke at the Jay County Sectional (he was 18th at the state meet) and was a member of the 200 medley relay that won at sectional and the 200 free relay that took second.
Carroll: The Chargers have won the last two South Side Sectional titles and was the top local finisher at the state meet, finishing eighth with 122 points. Carroll has five returning swimmers who qualified for the state meet as individuals last season, including Dankert and Adam McCurdy (who finished ninth in the 200 IM) who both made it as freshmen. But the Chargers lost DeWitt, who won the 100 fly at the state meet and was one of the best high school swimmers in Indiana.
Homestead: The Spartans have 22 sectional titles but haven't won a championship in the last two seasons. Luarde is one of the more accomplished swimmers in the area, and classmate Spencer Koehrn is right behind him, finishing eighth in the 100 breast and 10th in the 200 IM at last year's state meet. Ethan Dalton will also be a senior this year, and was a state qualifier in the 50 free and 100 fly.
Concordia: The Cadets took third place at the South Side Sectional last year after winning the SAC championships by more than 300 points. Concordia had seven athletes on the All-SAC list, and five return this year.
Bluffton: The Tigers finished third at the Jay County Sectional behind Delta and Norwell. They were just 25 points behind the Knights at sectional. Both Ringger and junior Caleb Geimer won individual events at the sectional (Geimer was 27th in the IM prelims at state), and three members of the 200 medley that qualified for the state meet return.
Warsaw: The defending sectional champs will be without Grant Knight, who graduated after winning two individual events and being a member of two winning relays. Cooper Archer qualified for the state meet in the 200 IM as a freshman, but will he and other young swimmers be enough to replace Knight?
Homestead vs. Carroll: The Chargers won the South Side Sectional by just 27 points last winter. Carroll has lost DeWitt, but Homestead has lost Zach Zishka. Who will come out ahead this season?
Norwell vs. Bluffton: The Tigers and Knights aren't in the same conference, but the two schools are just 15 minutes apart and are both contenders in the Jay County Sectional. Their first opportunity to meet this season at the Norwell Boys Invite in December has been canceled, so their first scheduled contest together is now in January. Which leads us to ...
Adapting for COVID-19: Swim season traditionally features large invitationals that sometimes bring together an entire conference or even dozens of teams together in one pool. How will the sport adapt for this winter, when health guidelines discourage large events bringing together hundreds of people?
Dearth of divers: Only two of the 32 divers who qualified for the state meet last season were from Northeast Indiana, and only one made it to the final round. Both were seniors. Will the Fort Wayne area be better represented this season?
King Carmel: The Greyhounds' stranglehold on the boys state championship is not as strong as it is on the girls side – they've only won the last six state titles. Will anyone be able to take them down in 2021?