One of the most unusual boys high school swimming and diving meets of the season will be held this weekend at Pekin.
This year, even the date of the meet is unusual.
Normally held just before New Year’s Eve, the 47th annual Downstate 8 Relays will take place Saturday, two days before Christmas Eve.
The reason? The following Saturday (Dec. 29) is the final day of the Pekin Insurance Holiday Tournament, and there already will be plenty of basketball commotion at the high school that day.
All of the normal individual events become two-swimmer events at the Downstate 8 Relays. For example, the 50 freestyle becomes the 2x50 freestyle.
The three standard relays -- 200 medley, 200 freestyle and 400 freestyle -- are the same, with each also having a junior varsity race that’s not counted in the team standings.
Swimmers are not seeded. Lane assignments rotate for each event. Each swimmer can compete in as many as four events, but no more than two two-swimmer relays.
“There’s no diving, and the meet is fast and furious,” said Pekin coach Christine Dunn. “It has a different vibe.”
Joining the host Dragons co-op team in the eclectic field Saturday will be defending champion Moline, returnees Dunlap co-op, Metamora co-op, Champaign Centennial, Rockford Guilford and Springfield Sacred Heart-Griffin and new participant Macomb.
Dunlap and Pekin finished second and third last year behind Moline.
There were only seven teams in the field last year -- the meet was held Dec. 30 -- so the addition of Macomb makes the Downstate 8 Relays live up to its name. Guilford didn’t compete in 2017 because of a rash of injuries and illness, reducing the field to six teams.
The top three teams Saturday will each earn a trophy. Awards will go to the top four finishers in each race.
Dunn said she has a large number of swimmers who have posted similar times, so she’ll have plenty of choices in putting together relay teams.
The meet will begin at 11 a.m., with doors opening at 10 a.m. Admission is $4 for adults, $2 for student and senior citizens.
RAIDER INVITATIONAL: Pekin finished ninth of 19 teams last Saturday in the Raider Invitational at Bloomington.
“The boys kept dropping their times there,” Dunn said. “That’s what we were concentrating on.”
Alex Kula led the way for the Dragons. He placed fourth in the 200 freestyle (1:50.70) and fifth in the 100 butterfly (:57.62).
He also helped Pekin’s 200 freestyle relay team finish third (1:37.87) and the 200 medley relay team place seventh (1:51.05).
Dillon Marlatt, Sam Dunn and Garrett Oliver joined Kula on the freestyle relay team. Brady Hild, Marlatt and Dunn were also on the medley relay team.
Hild was seventh in the 100 backstroke (1:03.03).
Pekin scored 146.5 points. Normal West (319), Chatham Glenwood (252), Normal Community (214), Champaign Centennial (184), Hinsdale South (177), Springfield (176), Bloomington (164) and Champaign Central (163.5) finished in front of the Dragons.
WRONG SCORE: An incorrect score for the Pekin co-op vs. Washington co-op meet Dec. 13 was reported in the Pekin Times. Washington won 94-90.
Steve Stein can be reached at (248) 224-2616 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpartanSteve.