The Sandusky Bay Conference is up for grabs in boys swimming, and that doesn't happen very often.
With the Class of 2010 gone from high school pools, and with it, three state titles, the wide-open league is a battle of talent versus depth.
"This is just one of those year. Everybody lost a bunch of talent," Perkins head coach Steve Cremean said.
Perkins and Port Clinton have returning state qualifiers, while Margaretta and Oak Harbor have the depth.
Perkins, which has won the league 14 times in the 18-year history, lost a group of eight swimmers -- including state champions Chris Waldock, Michael Mulvin and Jonathan Harris.
This year's roster, smaller than in the past, relies heavily on a group of sophomores.
"They're young and inexperienced, but improving dramatically," Cremean said. "We'll do our best to try and help them improve."
Sophomores Michael Kessler and Kevin Bressler were state qualifiers a year ago as freshmen, and both had top-eight podium finishes. Future trips to Canton should be with steadier heads.
"The first time (at state) it's eye-opening," Cremean said. "You have to travel, eat, the schedule is different. Now that they've had that experience they'll be able to apply themselves a little better.
"Experience is a great teacher, and the state meet is one of the top five meets in the country."
Cremean said the swimmers newer to the A-list, while not direct replacements for the recent graduates -- have improved quickly in the early part of the season.
"We see the rewards paying off," Cremean said. "We've picked up right where we left of last year."
While the Pirates and Redskins of the SBCs, and the Blue Streaks in the Greater Buckeye Conference, have talent to swim at the front of the races, it's the back end of the events where the Polar Bears and Rockets might thrive.
Margaretta, with 14 letterwinners back, has state-diver Tyler Beekman returning. The Polar Bears beat out Sandusky on Saturday at the A-Behr Classic in part because of its depth scoring enough points to offset first-place finishes.
New man in Huron
Adam Warner picked a good year to start his coaching career.
As the SBC shuffles toward its January conference meet, Warner, the first-year head coach has two months to improve a young Huron team that had one district qualifier in sophomore John Turner.
"The first season is about seeing improvements in times and trying to send more kids to districts," Warner said.
"They're all young, they're all freshmen and sophomores. But I'm seeing them improving times already," Warner said. "It's nice because they're all hard workers."
Warner, a 2006 Norwalk grad who placed seventh at the district meet his senior year, wants to see the Tigers be a more competitive group in the long term. Huron was last at the SBC meet a year ago.
With the SBC crown up for grabs, it's the right year for his group to make an impact.
"We may be able to get some swimmers to step up, maybe top-five individually. It'll push them harder to make districts," Warner said.
Warner became the first person in the history of the A-Behr to coach and swim in the event. Warner still holds two meet records in the 200 medley relay and 100 breaststroke.