Metros has been the championship swim meet for the MCPS and surrounding private schools for over 40 years. The MCPS athletic directors will be voting in April to move Metros back two weeks in order for the swim team to be able to compete in the Maryland MPSSAA Regional and State meet. This move would be detrimental to our Swim and Dive teams for numerous reasons.
1. There is no diving, removing our divers from the championship season
2. The level of competition is much less at the State meet than at Metros.
3. Between 50 and 60% of the athletes at the State meet would be from MCPS, reducing it to the equivalent of our current Countys meet without the upperlevel competition brought in by the private schools.
4. The current format of the State meet is a timed finals event. Not nearly as exciting or as much fun for the athletes as a prelims and finals meet - which is a true Championship format in swimming.
5. The AD's are asking the athletes to give up the best meet they have so that the swimmers, but not divers, may participate in the state meet. They are doing this without giving the athletes the benefits that would go along with MPSSAA rules - such as 12 meets per season and the ability to compete against schools outside the county and against private schools. Ask the Athletic Directors of MCPS and Dr. Beattie, head of Athletics for MCPS to reconsider this change until they have attended both Metros in its current format and the MPSSAA States meet in its format. Then include the athletes in the decision. They too are stakeholders.
While I can understand the desire for Montgomery County to be the host of one more “State Champion” school, I have to ask you at what cost to the student-athletes? The MPSSAA State meet is recognized by the swimming community as a mediocre championship event. The winning times at the State meet would have barely made the top 20 times in many of the events at Metros – the season culminating meet our athletes have been privileged enough to have for the past 47 years. There was not a single All-American consideration time at the State meet this year. Compare that to 17 Automatic All-American times and 24 Consideration times swum at Metros. Would it mean more to the MCPS Athletic Directors to claim an additional State championship if the Walter Johnson girls’ Cross Country teams competed in 2A and claimed the title? Using the formula for qualification for the State meet, I actually analyzed this past year’s meet. Taking our current County’s meet as the equivalent of Regionals and putting MCPS in the Southern region, MCPS swimmers would account for between 50 and 60% of athletes in EACH race. Is that really what the other schools want?
The Swim and Dive teams in MCPS are unique in many respects. The athletes are not able to practice as a team at the school, or even practice with any consistency similar to other teams. They do not carpool from school to the meets or ride a team bus. They may not wear their team uniforms to school for pep rallies. They do not compete at the school and very few people outside of the athletes’ parents attend the competitions. All that being said, we consistently maintain one of the fastest and most competitive season culminating meets in the entire United States.
Because of the unique arrangement of MCPS Swim and Dive teams competing in Metros the athletes who qualify for that meet know that it is an accomplishment and an honor. The coaches, both high school and club, where many of the athletes actually get their practice time, train their athletes to specifically target Metros. This is due to the scheduling of the meet in the scheme of a training “cycle” in which the athletes train hard for 8-10 weeks then rest over a 7-14 day period to provide the maximal benefit to the athlete. Changing the timing of Metros by moving it two weeks earlier would prevent the swimmers from doing that.
Additionally, Metros is a Potomac Valley Observed meet. This is an arrangement with the local swim committee that provides US Swimming Officials to observe the final two meets of the season. In doing so, the times the swimmers achieve count as valid times for other swim meets such as local Senior Championships or Junior or Senior National meets. The Coaches take this meet so seriously in part because of the high level of competition and because it is an observed meet. Without that, neither the swimmers nor the coaches have the desire to risk themselves for a meet that doesn’t serve their larger goals. Moving the meet back two weeks would prevent Metros from being observed since the two observed meets would become Regionals and States.
The Metros meet is so well known that each year college coaches from all along the East Coast attend. They are not allowed to talk to the athletes, but they can observe and see not only how they swim, but also how they interact with their teammates and coaches. This type of attention is not paid to the State meet because it is not as fast and because without having a prelims/finals format it alters how an athlete approaches the meet.
Further, our teams have been built as Swim and Dive teams. By having the swimmers attend the MPSSAA State meet, what does that do for the divers? Our swimmers and divers are a close group of athletes and they depend on each other as a team to win or lose a meet. Eliminating the divers from the championship season is a slap in the face to them.
I cannot stress enough to you the many, many positive aspects of the Metros meet. Nowhere else can you find an aquatic center like Germantown that is completely packed for the entire weekend for a single meet. The energy and enthusiasm, the team spirit, the fun the athletes have. I have worked swim meets from New York to Florida to California. Outside of the Senior Nationals or NCAA championships, there are few meets to compete with Metros for having filled stands and sheer excitement. I was privileged enough to be at Metros in 2007 to watch Kate Ziegler break a 25 year old American record. That speaks to just how fast this meet is - this is no ordinary swim meet.
How many of the AD’s have actually attended Metros and attended States to see the difference. Why would the AD’s take this away from our kids? Our athletes do not swim just to get an athletic letter. They do not swim for the glory it brings them at school. They do not train only 3 months out of the year, as many of the other athletes are able to do. These kids swim because they love it, and it is one of the few activities that they can participate in at a school level given the enormous commitment they give to their chosen sport. Please do not deny them the opportunity to represent WJ and MCPS at a level of competition not available at the State meet.