The only returning first-team member from last year's boys and girls All-Met swim selections is a junior diver, leaving the impression this season will be devoid of the continual flow of stars that have emerged in recent years.

That is not the case, however..

True, the athletes who have given Washington area swimming national prominence the last four years -- Mike Barrowman of Churchill, Bryan Nicosia of Woodward, Mark Henderson of Friendly, Kelley Davies of Sherwood -- have graduated, but scores of others are ready to take over. There are a few new names, but the majority of this year's stars will be swimmers who have been gradually improving in recent years.

Diver Kris Yaggi of St. John's is the only returning All-Met performer. Last year as a sophomore, he won the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Championship (the Metros) for the second consecutive year, with 472 points, 100 more than the runner-up. He was also chosen an all-America, which in diving is exceedingly difficult.

Looking strictly at last year's second-team and honorable-mention selections, the top boys prospects include senior sprinter Eric Lichtmann of Wootton, junior distance and individual medley swimmer Sean Carey of St. John's, senior sprint freestyle specialist Jim Birmingham of Springbrook, senior freestyle and breaststroke standout Scott Madill of Sherwood, senior breaststroke swimmer Robi Kunz of Wootton and junior distance freestyle swimmer Matt McCormack.

Also, look for Churchill juniors David Knauert, Daniel Greyber and Thomas Lee to make an impact. Other candidates to fill in the fast final (the eight fastest swimmers in the finals) section at the Metros are Wheaton junior Mike McArthur, Walter Johnson freshman Lewis Tucker and teammate Mike Holden, Gonzaga's Chris Ritter, Eleanor Roosevelt juniors Wayne McCool and Chris Benedict, sophomore Eric Franklin and seniors Tim King and Glenn Maynard.

Parkdale junior David Johnson will be winning many backstroke races; Paint Branch sophomore Curtis Patteson will be leading Montgomery County breaststroke competitors, and senior teammate Doug Brown will do well in the individual medley. Kennedy junior Scott Rogers is expected to figure highly in the freestyle races. Damascus sophomore Mark Ward and junior Bobby Rockwell can place in just about any event.

The plethora of Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt names is no coincidence. Both teams think they are capable of winning the Metros.

"The boys are tired of Churchill having dominated for so long," said Eleanor Roosevelt Coach Manga Dalizu, an economics major at the University of Maryland who swam in Kenya. Churchill's boys have won the last three Metros, seven overall.

"And, how can I say this so the girls won't be angry with me?" Dalizu rhetorically asked. "{Our} boys are a lot closer to a possible Metros championship than the girls because our boys were third last year and of the 10 {scorers}, nine are returning."

Roosevelt's girls are hoping to challenge four-time defending champion Wootton for the title.

Half of Churchill's Metros championship squad graduated, including area breaststroke leader Barrowman and four all-county swimmers, but Coach Mark Eldridge said Knauert, Greyber and Lee, the three remaining all-county picks, are coming on strong.

"We certainly aren't the team we've been in the past and it falls back on the kids who are very good swimmers who rarely got a chance to swim before," said Eldridge. "Someone who swims a 1:58 {for 200 freestyle} is the kid we're counting on, but last year couldn't even make the dual meet team. We are a good high school team but we won't dominate any team we come up against. We will have to work a lot harder."

For the girls, Richard Montgomery senior breaststroke competitor Karin Masal is the only returning All-Met, a second-teamer. Last year, Roosevelt's Jennifer Peyton earned the first-team slot in the Metros by beating Masal in the finals in an area- and meet-best 1:06.37. This after Masal set a meet record 1:06.58 in the morning trials and was seeded first.

Masal has already taken a second off her times and is three seconds ahead of any other area breaststroke swimmer, averaging 1:07 in dual meets. Closest to her is Kennedy freshman Ruth Kominski, who is expected to be among the area's best when the Metros are held in February.

Other swimmers expected to do well this year include freestyle swimmer Christy Rourke, a senior who is the first Churchill girl to break a school record in nearly eight years, Immaculata senior Ellen Lucey, Whitman senior Christy Surr, Wootton senior Erin Cashman, Bethesda-Chevy Chase senior Helen Clemmer, Churchill senior Kelly Madigan, Wootton freshman Candy Camacho and teammate Meghan Henning.

Possibly the top freshman and distance freestyler will be Eleanor Roosevelt's Elyce Sikora, a junior national qualifier who has already clocked a 4:56 for 500 yards this year. By comparison, last year's Metros were won by Susan Leupold in 5:04.

Roosevelt also has senior Alisa Hawkins in the sprints and junior Carolyn Drake in the butterfly. Wohlee Gibb of Bowie is a good middle-distance freestyler. Junior Jennifer Mitchell of Bethesda-Chevy Chase is expected to do well in the middle distances and sophomore sisters Jennifer and JoAnna Rogers of Kennedy are quality individual medley swimmers.

Other top prep swimmers include sophomore Shannon Madigan and senior Peggy Nolan of Holy Cross, sophomore Phoebe McCormick of National Cathedral and Amanda Harris and senior Isabelle Wallace of Holton-Arms.