Last season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys swimming and diving team scored 438 points and easily won the OCC-Ohio Division meet ahead of Hilliard Darby (254), Lancaster (195) and Newark (40).

Last season, the Gahanna Lincoln High School boys swimming and diving team scored 438 points and easily won the OCC-Ohio Division meet ahead of Hilliard Darby (254), Lancaster (195) and Newark (40).

It was the Lions' second consecutive league title and only their second league title overall.

Senior Chris Downing said the Lions are expecting a more competitive OCC-Ohio meet this season as the league now includes Grove City, Groveport, Lancaster, Newark, Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and Reynoldsburg. The diving competition will be held Friday at Dublin Rec Center and the swimming will be held Saturday at Lancaster YMCA.

"It's definitely going to be a lot closer because there's more competition and we've lost (graduates Brent Shearer and Ian Schmitt), who scored a lot of points at OCC for us last year," Downing said. "Lancaster and Pickerington North are going to be our closest competition. Lancaster has great depth and Pickerington North has a guy (Billy Ross) who scores a lot of points in the (200-yard individual medley and 100 breaststroke). But it doesn't matter how close it is as long as we finish first."

Downing should score well regardless of what events he swims.

Last week in the Central/East/Southeast Division I rankings, Downing was first in the 100 butterfly (51.34 seconds), third in the 500 freestyle (program-record 4:53.57), sixth in the 200 free (1:46.97) and 10th in the 200 IM (2:06.05).

Gahanna also should score a lot of points in diving, as Austin Whalen was first (216.25 points), Casey Peirano was fifth (159.45) and Zach Koors was 10th (145.35).

For Lancaster, Andrew Slater was second in the 200 free (1:45.85) and fifth in the 100 free (48.76) and Chris Depietro was sixth in the 200 IM (2:03.06) and seventh in the 100 back (56.38).

Ross was third in the 100 breast (1:01.97) and fourth in the 200 IM (2:02.03).

But the Lions beat the Gales 116-53 on Dec. 5, and Downing believes their depth is superior to North's depth.

"I definitely think our size is going to help us because we've got a lot of guys who can contribute and score," Downing said. "The key is making sure we get a lot of seconds and thirds when we don't win events."

•The girls team also is seeking its third consecutive OCC-Ohio title after scoring 349 points to finish ahead of Lancaster (329), Darby (315), Newark (86) and Westland (2) a year ago.

Junior Jenny Demjanenko said the Lions have identified North and Lancaster as their top competition. Gahanna beat Lancaster 87-83 on Dec. 5.

"We're not too worried about most of the teams, but Lancaster's close to us and Pickerington North has a really good breaststroker (Janel Mathews), who gives them a really good 200 medley relay," Demjanenko said.

Last week in the Central/East/Southeast Division I rankings, Demjanenko was fourth in the 200 free (1:56.59) and sixth in the 500 free (5:12.71). The 200 free relay was 10th (1:47.16).

Mathews had the fifth-best time in the 100 breast (1:09.36) and North's 200 medley relay was seventh (1:56.86).

"North should score a lot of points in the breaststroke and medley relay, so we'll have to concentrate on getting a lot of points in the freestyle events," Demjanenko said. "It's really important that we win both freestyle relays, because we'll need those points."

At a glance

Below are recent results and coming schedules for the Gahanna Lincoln boys and girls swimming and diving teams:

Last Friday -- Boys: Lost to Columbus Academy 87-83; Girls: Lost to Academy 92-78

Friday-Saturday -- At OCC-Ohio meet. Diving will be Friday at Dublin Rec Center and swimming will be Saturday at Lancaster YMCA.