Saturday's ninth annual Stanislaus County Southern Section Swim Championships will feature the reigning Stanislaus District's boys and girls swimmers of the year Hailee Baldwin (Pitman) and Brett Fogelberg (Merced) as well as the three-time reigning champion Merced High boys and girls teams.
It will not, however, feature any rain.
Unlike last year, when the event was contested in a constant, chilly downpour, Saturday's forecast calls for mostly sunny skies with temperatures reaching the low 80s.
In other words, perfect conditions for the district's premier, in-season swim meet.
More than 600 swimmers from 20 area high schools all the MMC and CCC schools, along with Ceres, Hilmar, Ripon, Turlock Christian, Los Banos, Oakdale and Sonora will gather at the Johansen High pool, with the first swimmers diving into the pool at 9 a.m. The meet has an expected finish time of 3:30 p.m.
"This event has turned into a real nice thing," said Johansen coach and meet director Brent Bohlender. "When the league separated what was the old CCC many of us coaches wanted to keep those connections. This is a great way for those schools to get together and show what we have."
"The various league championships are actually a lower caliber than this event. This is a great way for kids who are just starting out a chance to compete against others who are far more experienced."
Baldwin is seeded No. 1 in the 100 breaststroke (1 minute, 5.35 seconds) and second in the 200 individual medley (2:11.30), just two-tenths of a second behind top seed Kerra Bispo of Downey.
"She's the best in the District," said Bohlender, a member of the Sac-Joaquin Section and USA Water Polo halls of fame. "She's looking to capture another two titles and is in good position to do so."
Enochs High's Mandee Kiep enters as the No. 1 seed in the 50 free (25.19) and the 100 backstroke (1:05.87), while Gregori's Katelin Britton is No. 1 in the 100 free (53.18) and 200 free (1:57.0).
On the boys' side, Fogelberg is No. 1 in the 50 (22.29) and 100 (49.58) freestyles, while teammate Josh Fleutsch is the top seed in the 200 (1:51.06) and 500 (4:56.17) freestyles. Gregori's Christian Britton is No. 1 in the 200 IM (2:03.54).
"The Merced boys are favored to win it all again," said Bohlender. "The Merced girls probably are, too, because of their depth.
"I think the Ripon girls should do well and I think Oakdale's boys will do well."
Ripon High's girls are led by Erika Brown, the top seed in the 500 free (5:23.30), while Oakdale's boys have two No. 1 seeds in Ryan Jones (55.41, 100 butterfly) and Soren Dickens (59.66, 100 breast).
Admission is $5, and a concession stand and taco truck will be open, selling food and drinks.