The Honor:In the year of the National Age Group Record, there are now a total of 68 marks, between long course meters and short course yards, that were broken at least once in 2012. Even beyond the record breakers (and there were a lot of them), we saw just an incredible depth of talent at the age group level that should leave the Americans feeling good about the future of their National Team.
It’s not necessarily a requirement to break a National Age Group Record to win this award, but in a year where so many went down it would be hard to give the honor to many who didn’t.
There’s a bit of a dilemma of picking within an age group, as the swimmers move up-and-down within a year, but we’ll use our best subjective judgments to place each athlete in the group where they made a big impact
10 & Under Boy: Destin Lasco, Atlantic City Aquatic Club
This was a tough battle in the youngest recognized age group of USA Swimming, but Destin Lasco of the Atlantic City Aquatic Club gets top honors thanks to three National Age Group Records: the 50 yard backstroke (27.96), 100 yard backstroke (59.81 – first 10-year-old to ever break a minute), and 100 meter backstroke (1:09.89) [video]. He was under Michael Andrew’s old NAG Record in the 50 back as well, though fellow New Jerseyan Vincent Marciano. He also led the country in several other events, including the 100 and 200 yard freestyles and the 100 meter freestyle.
What’s even more impressive is that he’s only 5 feet tall – surely not short for a 10-year old, but by no means tall enough to carry him to the record on that alone. His coach, Dimitar Petrov, gives a lot of credit to both his underwater work as well as his great sense of speed (he routinely negative-splits his backstroke races).
We would be remiss not to mention Cincinnati Marlins swimmer Carson Foster, who among other accomplishments cracked a historical Michael Phelps 10 & under record in the 100 meter fly when he went a 1:07.24. That was the very first National Age Group Record ever set by Phelps. Honorable mentions also go to Ethan Dang of the King Aquatic Club, the long course 100 breaststroke NAG Record holder; and Lasco’s fellow Middle Atlantic swimmer Ivan Puskovitch, who swam a 5:14 in the 500 free at only 10 years old. That’s smoking-fast.
11-12 Boy: Michael Andrew, Team Andrew Indie Swimming
Michael Andrew took a run at National Age Group Records in the spring of 2012 like perhaps we’ve never seen, hitting a total of 20 record-breaking swims before aging up in just a three-month period. Now, training with his father, his sister, and a few others whose curiosity was piqued by the unusual training methods. I’m not sure that ever in the history of the sport has a 12-year old swimmer garnered as much attention as Andrew has in the last year. Love it or hate it, make no mistake that he and his father/coach Peter are making a lasting impression on the sport.
Andrew took down freestyle records, breaststroke records, butterfly records, and IM records: really everything but backstroke records (partially because of how good Ryan Murphy was at this same age).
Honorable mention goes to Reece Whitley from Penn Charter, who has crushed Andrew’s record in the 200 breaststroke over the last few weeks. Though still unratified, at the Tom Dolan Invitational he swam a 2:09.40 in the 200 yard breaststroke that is four seconds faster than any 12-year old has ever been.
13-14 Boy: Maxime Rooney, Pleasanton Seahawks
Michael Andrew could almost be a contender for this age group as well; in 2012 he’s the only 13-14 to break 50 seconds in the 100 fly (even though he’s only 13). This honor goes to Maxime Rooney of the Pleasanton Seahawks though, with an awesome late push. At Winter Juniors in early December, he broke his teammate Nick Silverthorn’s NAG Record in the 200 yard free with a 1:38.42. He also led the country in the 200 yard fly by almost a second-and-a-half (1:51.37), was 2nd in the 100 yard fly (50.30), and was 2nd in the 200 yard IM (1:51.73).
That 200 free record was what really stunned though: a record that the Seahawks and coaches Steve Morilli and Todd Tucker absolutely own.
His summer was really fast as well, as he lead the country in three events in long course (and none of them were close, either).
A big honorable mention goes to Ryan Hoffer of the Scottsdale Aquatic Club. He only lead the country in one event, the 50 yard free, but everybody loves a sprinter. His 20.45 NAG Record in that race made a lot of people very excited; he was the only swimmer aside from Andrew under 21 seconds in the age group this year.
If it weren’t for how fast Rooney was, Upper Dublin’s Michael Jensen could have taken this award. The same weekend as Winter Juniors, at the Tom Dolan Invitational, Jensen swam a 45.6 in the 100 free and a 1:39.6 in the 200 free. Also during that weekend, Carpet Capital Aquatics’ Ethan Young took down Ryan Murphy’s 200 back record at the Georgia State Championship Meet. That was a fun weekend of swimming.
15-16 Boy: Caeleb Dressel, Bolles School Sharks
Caeleb Dressel didn’t get to play with his Bolles teammates at the Florida 1A High School State Championship meet where they shredded the National High School Record books. That’s because even though Dressel trains with Bolles, he swims scholastically for Clay High School across the St. John’s River.
At Winter Nationals, however, he jumped onto the Bolles relays and did some really amazing things. He led off their 200 free relay with a 19.82, which is a new 15-16 National Age Group Record. After that, he won a stacked 100 free final with a 43.29, another NAG Record.
Dressel’s fellow Floridian Dylan Carter, though virtually unheard of until December, broke the NAG Record in the 200 yard free. He competes for Trinidad & Tobago internationally, and this age group has a pair of other impressive sprinters internationally who could earn this honor too: Brazil’s Matheus Santana and Russia’s Evgeny Sedov, who were both 22.8 or longer in the 50 meter free in 2012. Continuing down the road of sprinters, Splash Aquatic Club’s Paul Powers was also under 44 seconds in the 100 free (43.99 at a non-rest meet), and split a 20.2 in the 50 free that puts him on target in 2013 to be the third 16-year old under 20 seconds (after Carter and Dressel did it a few weeks ago).
Stepping outside of the freestyles, NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar had a great year in the breaststroke races. He set the 15-16 NAG Record in the 100 yard breaststroke with a 54.11, just barely missed another one in the 200 IM (1:45.21 – Gunnar Bentz set that this year in 1:45.17), and had a really good 1:05.7 in the long course 100 breaststroke.
17-18 Boy: Jack Conger, Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club
This one is a bit tricky. Arizona’s Kevin Cordes, as an 18-year old, broke all four breaststroke National Age Group Records. Given that he was through his first year of college, though, it felt like this award should go to someone still training and competing with their local club team.
That leaves the award down to Jack Conger and Ryan Murphy. Murphy in 2012 broke three National Age group Records, and even though one of those (the 100 long course backstroke) was in the 15-16 age group, it still would have been a record if he were a year older. Conger got two as well, the 100 backstrokes in long course and short course (though as mentioned, Murphy’s 15-16 record is faster than Conger’s 17-18 record).
Both were amazing 19-points in the 50 free. There’s two big tie-breakers that have swung this award to Conger’s favor. The first is the 100 yard back record, that Conger took away from Murphy at the last minute during the Tom Dolan Invitational.
The other is Conger’s unreal versatility. He was a 1:34.1 in the 200 free, a 46.1 in the 100 fly, a 4:17 in the 500 free, and a 1:45 in the 200 fly. There aren’t many 18-year olds in history would could pull that off while combined with Conger’s backstroke times. Michael Phelps is one. Tom Shields maybe could have (though he didn’t). That’s elite company.
And looking internationally, Japan’s Akihiro Yamaguchi broke a World Record in the men’s 200 breaststroke in long course meters. A World Record at only 18 is a pretty impressive accomplishment.
To read about all of the NAG Records broken this year, click here.