Because full squads do not compete in the girls' swimming and diving state meet, the team champion is often decided by quantity as well as quality. The more swimmers a team qualifies for the state meet, the better its chances to post a high score.
Defending champion Edina, with 22 qualifiers, has earned the right to be called the favorite. The Hornets had an impressive regular season in winning the difficult Lake Conference. They finished second to Stillwater in the Class 2A True Team meet and won in the 2A, Section 6 meet, which also includes No. 4-ranked Minnetonka and No. 5 Eden Prairie.
The Hornets have 22 entrants in the state meet, most of any team.
Stillwater, the No. 2 team in the Class 2A, has 21 entrants; Minnetonka has 16 and No. 3-ranked Wayzata has 15.
Many new faces will take home gold medals because eight of the nine individual events in 2010 were won by seniors or Eden Prairie's Rachel Bootsma, who is now swimming for the USA Swimming national team.
The only returning state champion is East Ridge diver Jenna Karrow. In the Section 3 meet, the junior posted an 11-dive score of 493.40 points, the best in Minnesota this season.
Notable among the swimmers considered favorites in their events are Edina senior Nikki Larson, who had the best seed times (based on section results) of the meet in the 200-yard freestyle and the 100 butterfly; Chanhassen freshman Kaia Grobe, who had the top time in the 50 freestyle; Wayzata junior Emma Paulson, runner-up in the 100 backstroke in 2010, and Minnetonka sophomore Isabel Wyer, one of only two swimmers (Grobe was the other) to swim the 100 freestyle in less than 52 seconds in her section meet.
Defending champion Hutchinson, which won the Class 1A True Team meet, holds the No. 1-ranking, but the Class 1A meet is up for grabs. The Tigers are among a handful of teams with a legitimate chance to win the team title.
Two teams have 13 entrants and feature swimmers who are hoping to defend two 2010 championships. Sartell-St. Stephen has junior Marissa Wood, who won the 200 and 500 freestyles in 2009 and 2010. Monticello senior Caley Oquist won the 200 individual medley last year in addition to her second consecutive 100 backstroke championship.
Visitation, with all three relay teams among the top three seeds in each of those events, has 16 individual entrants.
In addition to Wood and Oquist, St. Louis Park junior Kathryn Ostrom had the best seed time in the 100 breaststroke (1:04.92) and will be tough to beat in her specialty.