Tomorrow afternoon, Williams travels to Pratt Pool to swim Amherst in one of the longest-held and most storied rivalries in Division III swimming. With two talented and evenly matched teams, the meet is sure to be a closely fought battle with very fast times. While Williams has a large advantage in the historical matchup, Amherst has been able to even the playing field over the last few years, winning two of the last three matchups and four of the last eight.
I intended to write a full preview, but, as I got started, I realized that the variability in both team’s lineups makes an event by event analysis somewhat futile. Here are my thoughts going in though (possible individual events in parentheses):
– For Amherst, Tim White (50, 100, 200, 500, 1000 free, 200 IM, 200 Back), Ryan Lichtenfels (100, 200, 500, 1000), Michael Rochford (2 IM, 2 Fly, 2 Back) and Conor Deveney (50, 100 Free, 200 Back, 200 IM) appear to be the key chess pieces in the lineup. For Williams, Dyrkacz (100 Free, 2 IM, 2 Breast, 2 Back (but only as a last resort if Williams is losing, as I can’t see him beating Rochford or Deveney)) and Vieth (50, 100, 200, 500) are in the same situation. Every one of these people has the talent to win numerous different events or to shift the balance in relays, so the matchups between these swimmers will be crucial. In my view, Vieth has the advantage if he swims the 50 or 100 free, the 200 is very close between him and Lichtenfels, if they match up there, and the 500 and 1000 are Amherst’s to win. Dyrkacz’ normal events would be the medley, 2 IM and 2 breast. If he leaves either of those individuals, Rochford and Beaulieu, respectively, look set to take those events for Amherst, so I think he might be locked in there.
– Freshmen play a huge role on both teams. Given how difficult it is to project their swims here, and the fact that this meet usually marks the rise of someone to a new level (as has been the case with Lichtenfels, White and Dyrkacz in years past), I’d be hard pressed to make definitive predictions
– Diving is a huge wildcard. Williams’ freshmen have basically matched what Colin White has posted thus far, so its basically a tossup. If either team ends up winning both boards, they’ll be at a huge advantage for the meet.
– Both relays are tossups, and the swing from 11 points to 4 is huge. The relays will involve a number of freshmen as well, adding more uncertainty in predictions.
With those thoughts in mind, I see Amherst as the slight favorite. I don’t see Lichtenfels or White losing their races, and I think they’ll be able to pull out at least one of the relays.
Prediction: Amherst 124 – Williams 119
Insight courtesy LordJeffFree who always has great posts and breaks down meets very well. This post, from the forums, can be found here, if you care to comment.