Women’s 50 Backstroke Final
15- year old Zoe Avestruz of the Aquajets swim team near Minneapolis already had a victory in the 100 back under her belt for this meet; on the final night, she added a win in the even shorter 50 yard backstroke race with a 24.44. That gave her the victory by three-tenths of a second ahead of a tie between Mickayla Hinkle of the St. Croix Swim Club and Janet Hu from NCAP. They tied at 24.76 for 2nd.
That makes a 1-2 finish for swimmers from Minnesota: a state that is quickly gaining a reputation for producing great sprint backstrokers.
It’s always good to have some perspective on this 50′s, which we don’t get to see a whole lot of; despite her youth, that split by Avestruz would’ve already been middle-of-the-road among A-final relays at last year’s NCAA Championship meet. Swimmers like Felicia Lee at Stanford and Emily Boss at Auburn split 24.4′s leading off their respective relays.
Kendyl Stewart from the Dynamo Swim Club was 4th in 25.10. She’s easily the best 200 backstroker of that group, as she proved earlier in the meet, and for her to come close to cracking the 25-second barrier in this sprint is a positive result.
Men’s 50 Backstroke Final
NASA Wildcat Aquatics’ Andrew Jovanovic, like Andrew Seliskar and Jack Conger, has been everywhere at this meet, ending up with 19 total swims over four days. This 50 backstroke was his second event championship, winning in 22.07. Jovanovic will be a Northwestern Wildcat, next year, and that time is actually faster than their A-backstroker, Dominik Cubelic, was at Big Tens this year (though, Cubelic has been under 22 seconds, so Jovanovic will still have to claw for a spot on that medley as a freshman).
Philip Hu from NCAP, older brother of Janet, took 2nd in 22.31, while First Colony’s Brett Pinfold came in 3rd in 22.54.
Women’s 1650 Freestyle
The Clearwater Aquatics Team’s Becca Mann had already won the 500 and the 1000 freestyles coming into this meet, but she saved her best show for last in Orlando. She swam a 15:45.33 in the 1650; that was her best time by 9 seconds and moved her to third already on the all-time 15-16 age group list (despite being on the younger half of that age group). Not all of Mann’s swims at this meet, where she raced an unbelievable 6,750 yards, were best times; however she was on top of her game in the distance freestyles.
Mann lapped the field in this race (moving to 13th on the all-time fastest milers list), and did so fairly easily – by about eight seconds.
The runner-up was Leah Stevens of the Lakeside Swim Team in 16:24.05, with Saint Petersburg’s Ariel Finke taking 3rd in 16:27.66.
Women’s 200 IM Final
Kaitlyn Jones of the Delaware Swim Team won the women’s 200 IM in 1:57.13. That’s about eight-tenths from her best time, which was set just two weeks ago at the Delaware High School State Championship meet in a new National Public High School Record. The back half of this swim was actually a little bit better than the back half of her last run at this race, but she just couldn’t get herself going quite fast enough on the backstroke and butterfly legs for a best time.
Kylie Stewart took 2nd in 1:58.04, with another 15-year old from Clearwater, Sydney Pickrem, taking 3rd in 1:58.15. That was ahead of her teammate Mann, who swam on a very quick turnaround in back-to-back races to take 6th in 2:00.60. (Watch Mann talk about her love of doubles at the Orlando Grand Prix here.)
Men’s 200 IM Final
Andrew Seliskar from NCAP got his second individual National Age Group Record of the meet in this men’s 200 IM, with a 1:44.03. He used a great, sub-30 second breaststroke split to pull ahead of the “record line.” He would go on to cut more than a second off of the old record, held by Gunnar Bentz at 1:45.17. (Read more about that record-breaking performance here).
Bentz, who swims for the Dynamo Swim Club, took 4th in this race in 1:47.88.
There were a lot of very good breaststrokers in this race. Nitro’s Will Licon took 2nd in 1:46.24, and the Maxwell Williamson from the northern Kentucky Clippers took 3rd in 1:46.62. As we’ve seen a lot of throughout this meet, everybody in that top 8 was faster in finals than they were in prelims.
Women’s 50 Free Final
First Colony’s Simone Manuel completed a sprint sweep at this year’s meet, and in the process broke her second National Age Group Record. (Read more about the record here). The 16-year old from suburban Houston swam a 22.04 to break Janet Hu’s four-month old record of 22.13.
Hu in this race took 2nd in 22.34, followed by Caroline McTaggart of All Star Aquatics in Potomac, Maryland. McTaggart, like Manuel, is just 16, and now ranks 7th all-time on that age group’s list.
Olympian Lia Neal was the only other swimmer under 23 seconds with a 22.96 to win the consolation final. Elizabeth Nelson, the 14-year old who’s had such a great meet, was a 23.26.
Men’s 50 Free Final
This men’s 50 free final really charged up the crowd; all four finals were electric, with a total of 27 swimmers marking times under 21 seconds.
Two, though, did even better with times under 20 seconds: Jack Conger and Caeleb Dressel. The much more veteran Conger got his fingers on the wall first in 19.85, but the 16-year old Dressel was every bit as impressive with a 19.90 for 2nd. For Dressel, that time was within a tenth of his national age group record in the event.
Andrew Jovanovic was yet another best time at this meet for 3rd place in 20.27. NCAP’s Harvard-bound Paul O’Hara was 4th in 20.31, and Wisconsin-bound Cannon Clifton was 5th in 20.43.
Andrew Seliskar won the B-Final in 20.48.
Men’s 1650 Freestyle
Remembering back all the way to the beginning of this meet, where Clearwater’s 14-year old Matthew Hirschberger on the 1000 free in a new National Age Group Record, he and 18-year old Ty Fowler were locked in battle again.
Several times in this race, Hirschberger would make little charges to pull even with Fowler, but ultimately Fowler led almost the entire race en route to a victory in 15:12.54. Hirschbirger was 2nd in 15:14.42: ranking him second all-time in the age group. Arthur Frayler at the same age was a quarter-of-a-second better, though nobody else has even been close to those two at this same age.
Francis Haas from Nova of Virginia and Justin Buck, another Clearwater swimmer, were locked in a good fight of their own in the final heat for 3rd place. Buck was out to a big advantage early, but a good 1:54 closing 200 yards from Haas overtook him 15:16.67-15:17.09.
Women’s 400 Medley Relay
A very good Dynamo Swim Club relay took the win in this 400 medley relay in 3:38.66. The first three legs of this squad, Kylie Stewart, Jamie Christy, and Nicole Stafford, are well-known and well-regarded nationally. The anchor, though, Caitlin Cooper made a name for herself in this relay, and anchored in 49.99: the second-fastest of the entire field.
NCAP was 2nd in 3:38.69, with Cooper just out-touching them for the victory. Janet Hu completed her meet with a 51.96 butterfly split. The Aquajets took 3rd in 3:39.09.
Men’s 400 Medley Relay
The quartet of Philip Hu, Carsten Vissering, Andrew Seliskar, and Paul O’Hara swam to a 3:15.03 in this 400 medley relay, closing the meet just as it began: with a National Age Group Record. (Read more about that record here). They took down a 3:16.76 set by SwimMAC last year.
Rockville-Montgomery, led by a 47.06 from Jack Conger, took 2nd in 3:18.29, and the Dayton Raiders were 3rd in 3:19.18.
It wasn’t something we focused on all week, but team scores were kept for this meet, and it’s no surprise that the conglomerate of the Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP) took the boy’s team title. The Dayton Raiders were well back in 2nd, and Jack Conger’s Rockville-Montgomery was in 3rd place.
NCAP also took the overall title, with their women finishing 2nd to the record-breakers from the Dynamo Swim Club.
Boys’ Top 5
1. Nation’s Capital Swim Club 456.5
2. Dayton Raiders 323
3. Rockville Montgomery Swim Club 318
4. Nasa Wildcat Aquatics 199
5. Dynamo Swim Club 194
Girls’ Top 5
1. Dynamo Swim Club 472.5
2. Nation’s Capital Swim Club 438
3. Aquajets Swim Team 350
4. Lakeside Swim Team 245
5. Clearwater Aquatic Team 200