The top high school swimmers in New Jersey meet one final time this weekend at Gloucester County Institute of Technology in Deptford Township in an event that's better known by its unofficial name: the Meet of Champions.
Officially called the State Individual Swimming Championships, the event puts the state's top high school competitors in boys and girls swimming against each other in the sport's 11 races.
Preliminary heats will be held today at 10 a.m. in girls swimming, and at 2 p.m. in boys swimming. The finals and consolation finals will be held Sunday, with the same time schedule.
Colleen Callahan and her Atlantic City High School teammates were a big hit last year. Callahan won her third straight 200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke titles, breaking her own meet records in both. She'll be in both races again. Callahan also combined with teammates Ayana Cox, Dominique Voso and Melissa Toy to win the 200 medley relay in 2012.
All four are seniors. Freshman teammate Amber Glenn will be in four races, and Alvarez, a senior, will be in a relay for the Vikings.
"They're all feeling good and looking forward to swimming as fast as they can," Atlantic City girls coach Bill Howarth said. "Everyone's anxious, so that's a good sign. Colleen is Colleen, and she'll go fast. But the competition's tough and there's no predictions. The fact that they're all seniors other than Amber means a lot.
"It's the last time they'll swim together, and I can see they're really excited."
The St. Augustine Prep boys team will have team leader Pat Flynn in the 200 freestyle and the 100 backstroke, and teammates Sam Newnam, T.J. Merighi, John Gregory and Matt Taccard will also be in individual races.
Flynn was sixth last year in both the 200 freestyle and the 500 freestyle.
"We've been training pretty hard, and lately we've been resting (tapering)," said senior Flynn, an 18-year-old Absecon resident. "I'm excited. I was surprised at how fast the freestyle is this year (after examining the times of the qualifiers). I'm seeded better in the 100 backstroke than in the 200 freestyle, and that surprises me, too."
The fastest eight swimmers in each event today will return Sunday in the championship finals. The ninth-to-16th fastest will race Sunday in consolation finals. The relays also have a second consolation final for the 17th-to-24th fastest teams in Saturday's races.
Area boys who are seeded among the top 16 in at least one individual event include Flynn and Merighi of the Prep, Anthony Czar of Egg Harbor Township, Eddie Parks of Vineland, Thien Le of Atlantic City, Ben Smith of Lacey Township, and Steve Buzby of Mainland Regional,
Girls seeded in the top 16 in at least one event are Callahan, Toy and Glenn of A.C., Rachel Bernhardt of Vineland, and Noel Styer of Ocean City.
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