How the Girls Teams Stack Up

Contenders

Northern: With 19 returning swimmers, the Patriots will be in position to win the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference title. The Patriots were the only SMAC team to beat champion Westlake last season. Top swimmers include sophomores Kristen Booros and Christine Mazzella, and senior Blake Harahush.

Patuxent: The Panthers have 14 returning swimmers from a team that finished a program-best third in the conference last season, and 19 new swimmers have joined. That gives Patuxent depth to complement talented swimmers Anna Joy (junior) and Sarah Jones (senior).

Thomas Stone: Though the Cougars lost their first meet of the season, it was an 84-83 loss to Northern. So it seems Thomas Stone can contend in the SMAC. Top swimmers include juniors Diana Rhodes and Victoria Webber, senior Laura Finley and freshman Mary Scott.

Westlake: The Wolverines have nearly every swimmer back from last season's SMAC championship squad, including senior Kim Hampton, sophomore Erin Antroinen and junior Lindsey Holley. Westlake also adds freshmen Katie Smith and Kristin Janssen, who could make an instant impact, Coach Jamie Brown said.

Sleepers

Calvert: The Cavaliers seem to be headed toward contention. This season, they have 12 freshmen, as well as talented swimmers in juniors Mya Breitburg, Elissa Johnson, Erin Teates, Barbara Warner and Sarah Fox. Calvert could be a year away from making a serious run at a conference title.

McDonough: The Rams are in good shape for a first-year program, especially if their freshmen can contribute right away, as Coach Marty Pride thinks they can. Top swimmers include seniors Sara Sanders and Carrie Rafer, both of whom swam impressively in a losing effort against Westlake last week.

La Plata: The Warriors have another first-year program with a promising future. La Plata's top swimmers include junior Shanann Cooksey and senior Ashley Goodrich, and Coach Chris Butler said freshman Lindsey Adkisson can contribute right away.

-- Jon Gallo

How the Boys Teams Stack Up

Contenders

McDonough: Coach Marty Pride may have a first-year program, but in their first-ever meet, the Rams knocked off defending conference champion Westlake, 83-79. With the talent of sophomore Ethan Ratliff, junior Scott Seymour and freshman Jonathan Michela, the Rams can compete with any team in the Southern Maryland Athletic Conference.

Northern: Coach Kandy Spain said her team should be a favorite to win the first-ever SMAC title this year. The Patriots are led by junior Jeff Burek and seniors Greg Miln and Mark Dare, who are competitive in all strokes. The threesome also will be counted on to provide leadership for a team that welcomes five freshmen.

Patuxent: The Panthers had eight swimmers and finished last at the Southern Maryland Invitational last year; this year, they return seven and welcome 10 new swimmers. Led by juniors Patrick Chan, David Burkhart and Perry Adams, and seniors Ryan Kentrus and Ricky Young, Patuxent can contend.

Westlake: Westlake lost three seniors to graduation but still has enough talent to repeat as conference champion. The Wolverines lost their season opener to first-year program McDonough, but they should rebound. Top swimmers include seniors Joshua Smith, Jason Neidert and Jeff Carbone, junior C.J. Lancaster and sophomore Derik Holley.

Sleepers

Calvert: Though the Cavaliers would have a hard time winning a conference title this year, they're not far away. Calvert has an extremely young team and will use this season to build toward future success. Top swimmers include junior Nick Grigsby and sophomores Mike Fedore and Jason Jolliffe.

La Plata: The Warriors are young, as well, and any wins will be a bonus in a building season, Coach Chris Butler said. La Plata has two seniors and 10 underclassmen on its roster. Top swimmers include sophomores Matt Diehl and Scott Wood, who are competitive in all of the strokes, and junior Jon Bennett, who should be a team leader, Butler said.

Thomas Stone: The second-year program has just eight swimmers on its roster. The Cougars do have talent, however. Senior Scott Lohman, sophomore Steve Heimpel and junior Patrick Phalen will get their share of wins this season. Relay victories, however, will be hard to come by.

-- Jon Gallo

Swimmers to Watch

BOYS

Patrick Chan, Patuxent: The junior should help the Panthers improve on last season's last-place finish. He won the 200-yard IM (2:20.10) and 100 backstroke (1:06.60) in the team's win over Calvert.

Mark Dare, Northern: Dare, a senior, is a hard worker and team leader. He got off to a fast start this season by winning the 100 freestyle (1:00.35) and 100 breaststroke (1:12.76) in the Patriots' win over Thomas Stone last week.

Patrick Phalen, Thomas Stone: A team leader as a junior, Phalen excels in the freestyle and backstroke. He was the only Thomas Stone swimmer to notch an individual victory (100 back, 1:10.86) in the Cougars' loss to Northern.

Scott Seymour, McDonough: The junior is one of Southern Maryland's top sprinters; he played a huge role in the Rams' victory over defending conference champion Westlake last week. Against the Wolverines, Seymour won the 50 free (23.88) and 100 free (55.67).

GIRLS

Kristen Booros, Northern: A sophomore who excels in both individual and relay events. In Northern's victory over Thomas Stone last week, Booros won the 50 freestyle (28.82) and swam on the winning 200 freestyle relay team.

Kim Hampton, Westlake: She won the 100 breaststroke (1:15.64) and 500 freestyle (5:58) in the Wolverines' win over McDonough. Hampton, a senior, can win in both sprints and distance events.

Carrie Rafer, McDonough: Coach Marty Pride calls this senior "a swimmer who does everything well." In the Rams' loss to Westlake last week, she won the 200 freestyle (2:07.53) and 100 backstroke (1:04.30).

Diana Rhodes, Thomas Stone: The junior swims all strokes well. She won the 100 butterfly (1:05.03) and 200 IM (2:22.44) in the Cougars' loss to Northern last week.

-- Jon Gallo