The Section II girls swimming and diving championships return to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy this weekend with a new format.
Rather than hold all the finals in one marathon session Saturday, the championship races are being split into two sessions. Division II (classes B, C and D) will hold its finals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, and Division I (class A) holds its championship races at 5 p.m.
The 24 teams are equally split between the two divisions as well, now that Niskayuna has dropped down to Division II. The new alignment will help the Silver Warriors, as they avoid swimming against class A powers Bethlehem, Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs. However, they must battle Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake, which only lost one dual meet this season, and Queensbury for the team title.
Division I also figures to be a close race between defending class A champion Bethlehem, Shen and Saratoga. All three teams feature strong individual swimmers, though Bethlehem and Shen hold an advantage over Saratoga in the relays.
Individually, Shen's Kara Zebrowski is poised to have a big meet. The junior posted the top times in Section II in four different events this season the 100- and 200-yard freestyles, the 200 individual medley and the 100 backstroke and was in the top five in two other races. She will be a threat in any individual event she enters.
Other swimmers to watch for in Division I are Saratoga's Taylor Sloane, Mohonasen-Schalmont's Amanda Vitullo and Bethlehem's Bethany Powhida and Katie O'Donnell. Shen's Andrea Krok, Ballston Spa's Taber Walkowiak and Saratoga's Elizabeth Rice are the leading contenders in the diving competition.
In Division II, Niskayuna's Karoline Hart, Emily Whitaker and McKenna Murphy will be looking to win individual titles. Hart has the top100 breaststroke time in the section with a 1:09.06 she recorded in an Oct. 19 dual meet against Schenectady, while Whitaker and Murphy posted the third-best times in the region in the 200 and 50 freestyles respectively. Murphy also has the fifth-best time in the 100 butterfly.
Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake has a serious individual title contender in Courtney Schwarting. Besides owning the sixth-fastest time in the 200 freestyle, Schwarting also owns a .04-second victory over Whitaker at an Oct. 11 dual meet in Niskayuna.
The Section II championships begin Thursday with preliminary heats for Division I and II races. The diving competition starts Friday with the preliminary and semifinal rounds.""