Each team won by close margins the last two seasons, with Lassiter clinching it 2008 and Walton winning last year.
The Trojans may have the advantage on paper. They're returning many of their proven swimmers, including sophomore distance freestylist standout Jimmy Yoder and senior Mike McCarthy, who can swim the backstroke and butterfly as well as the 200-yard freestyle. Junior Drew Cuttic is another freestylist expected to do big things, and sophomore Zach Bunner returns after a strong freshman campaign in the 100 backstroke.
"They want to go after the county title and have just as good as talent as anybody else," Lassiter coach Glenn Meeden said. "We feel we are a top-five program in the state of Georgia, and we'll see where it takes us."
Walton may shake up its lineup after graduating champion Ben Shepperd, the Class AAAAA state champion in the 50 freestyle, Kirk Malcolm and David Michaeli. Normally a breaststroker, senior Brian McClintock may shift over to sprint freestyles and have talented breaststroker Davis Beauchamp assume that event.
But the Raiders, who finished third in the state last season, have their strength lying in different areas. With junior divers David Sanchez and Will Sellman returning, the Raiders are capable of scoring big at county and state.
Walton has added freshmen Jake Gunning and Thomas Kelley, who can both contribute in a variety of events.
After finishing third in the county behind Lassiter and Walton, Pope is also a threat to win after pulling it out in 2006. The Greyhounds are stacked with experience behind senior Jordan Turner (200 breast, 200 individual medley), senior Arthur Lo (100 fly, 200 IM) senior Pearce Lane (sprint freestyle) and senior diver Eric Sinsley.
Pope's foursome, in addition to its returners, could be a force in the AAAA-A state meet this season after moving down a classification.
"The boys team returns almost everyone from last year's squad," coach Chris Haon said. "We have a tremendous senior class with a lot of experience and talent. We have more depth this year than in any of the past four years I have been at Pope on the boys side. I think we will have a very good chance to have all four swimmers in each event score at the county meet."
Hillgrove and Marietta are both growing their programs
Hillgrove moved up to AAAAA after finishing eighth in the AAAA-A meet last season. The Hawks are still growing behind returning junior freestylists Sam Barry, Chris Lohff and Ethan Wolovick. Marietta is also returning a balanced squad led by juniors Michael Dugan and Sam Horvath and senior Dan Brady.
Kennesaw Mountain seniors Jake Schoeff and Non Siwabut will lead a team that has more depth than last season and is looking to exceed last year's fifth-place showing at county and 21st-place finish at state.