The first thing noticed when attending a Division 17 meet during the summertime’s Northern Virginia Swimming League is, often, there are available parking spots, well after Saturday morning meets have begun.
Depending on the pool, there are some open spaces right up front. That was the case on July 3 at a Division 17 meet in Springfield.
In contrast, at Division 1 action, and most others in those top divisions, forget about finding any empty parking spaces, unless arriving well before the 9 a.m. start time. So nearby street parking, or at an adjacent school or church in some cases, is the only remaining option.
Once inside pool grounds, the second thing noticed is often the significantly fewer participants in races, and fewer people attending. When races are held at some Division 17 meets, there aren’t enough swimmers to fill each of the six lanes of all the races. So there are some combined races, including boys and girls in the same non-relay events, and sometimes of different ages. Even then, sometimes there are only two or three swimmers in a race.
That all makes sense. Division 17 teams are typically the pools that have fewer numbers of swimmers, probably less members, as well, and struggle to win meets. That’s compared to the highest Division 1 in the NVSL, where each lane in every race is typically filled with swimmers, which also is the case for teams in many other upper-level divisions.
In those divisions, often there is a glut of swimmers, and pool sides are packed with spectators and other swimmers watching meets.
Also at Division 17 competitions, sometimes fewer details are provided about each race, like announcing all the names of each swimmer.
So basically, the biggest difference between Division 1 and 17 meets is about numbers, and parking spaces.