Matt Rees is a huge swim fan, a swim parent, and a brilliant journalist who has worked for The Economist and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications; he now owns a financial communications consulting firm, Geonomica. He was on deck for the 2013 Virginia AAA state championship meet and brings the following report.
One of the factoids coaches like to share with their swimmers is that water is 773 times denser than air. “The higher you are in the water,” they’ll say, “the faster you will go.” That lesson seems to have taken hold in Virginia, where 11 new records were set in the state’s AAA championship meet, held at George Mason University on Saturday night.
Standout performances came from Oakton’s Janet Hu (two individual state records and part of two relays that set state records) and Megan Byrnes (one individual state record and part of one relay that set a state record), who helped propel Oakton to a team championship,
Robinson’s freshman James Murphy continued to impress, winning the 100 free in 45.70 and placing second in the 200 free in 1:39.31 – helping his team win the boys title, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3vaQ7t-REzc. (See a SwimSwam exclusive interview with Murphy here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olAAS9tOjkE)
Hu turned in a 52.84 in the 100 fly, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UiNgTHiBzbo – breaking the record she set last year, and not far off the Jasmine Tosky national record of 51.92. Hu’s time is even more impressive given that she is not tapered and wasn’t pressed by her competition – winning the race by 1.5 seconds. In the 100 back, Hu walked to the blocks with The Who’s “Who Are You?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r5kmCgVhADY blaring throughout the noisy natatorium, and didn’t disappoint the Oakton-friendly crowd. She windmilled her way to a 53.27, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ot7x-hsRs9o – once again breaking a record she had set last year. Anchoring the 400 free relay, Hu split a 48.50 – enabling Oakton to win the race by more than seven seconds, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9lPkHRfaX4. And her lead-off backstroke in the 200 medley relay was an eye-popping 24.75.
The swims by Byrnes served as a potent reminder of Oakton’s depth. The fabulous freshman recorded a 4:49.75 in the 500 free, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ctsqsj2Ktyc&feature=youtu.be, breaking a state record set by Rachael Burnett in 2009. Like Hu, Byrnes is not tapered (both swim for Nation’s Capital Swim Club), and has a PR of 4:45 in the 500. She also placed second in the 200 free, going 1:50.24 and being out-touched by Colonial Heights sophomore Abigail Richey, who notched a 1:50.07. Byrnes also swam on Oakton’s 200 free relay, splitting a 23.67, and the record-setting 400 free relay, splitting a 52.99.
Thomas Jefferson’s Andrew Seliskar, one of the most accomplished sophomore swimmers in the country, turned in a blazing fast 200 IM, winning in a state-record time of 1:46.09 – breaking the record he set last year by nearly four seconds and close to the 15-16 NAG record set by Gunnar Bentz last year. Seliskar scorched his competitors in the 100 fly, going 47.92, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Mp9lpqfKGQ. He’s not far off the 15-16 NAG record of 47.10 set by Michael Cavic way back in 2001. Expect him to take down the national public high school record next year – it’s 47.08, which is also Virginia’s state record, set by current University of Michigan swimmer Sean Fletcher in 2009. Seliskar also helped Thomas Jefferson win the 200 medley relay, going 1:33.80 and missing the state record by just .02. (See a SwimSwam exclusive interview with Seliskar here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrbFGiXJVGk)
Other record-breaking swims came from Chantilly senior Christopher Grimmett-Norris in the 200 free, 1:39.16; Westfield senior Brandon Fiala in the 500 free, 20.78; Langley senior Abi Speers in the 50 free, 23.18; Oakton senior Philip Hu in the 100 back, 49.44 (breaking a record set last year by Seliskar’s older brother, Stephen); and Cox junior Austin Temple in the 100 breast, 55.78. (The record-setting performances by the brother-sister Hu tandem raises a question – have a brother and sister ever set state records in the same meet?)
The closest race of the night came in the girls 100 free, with victory going to yet another Oakton swimmer, Laura Branton, who went 50.79. She won by about the width of a dime over Speers, whose time was 50.82.
As good as this meet was, it may be even more spectacular next year, with national high school and age-group records being chased down by Hu and Seliskar (and perhaps others). They’ll take different paths to continue their progress, but the common denominator will stay the same: a supernatural ability to push through more air than water. Stay tuned.