FMC Aquatic Speedo Grand Challenge
- November 17-19, 2023
- FMC Aquatic Center, Westmont, Illinois
- Short Course Yards (25 yards)
- Results on Meet Mobile: “2023 IL FMC HSC Speedo Grand Challenge” (or search “Westmont”)
Teams from across the country, including the Boulder Swim Team in Colorado, Club Wolverine in Michigan, and the Riptide Swim Team in Minnesota, have descended on suburban Chicago to race against some of the best that Illinois has to offer this weekend at the FMC Aquatic Speedo Grand Challenge.
That includes World Championship medalist Leah Hayes of the Fox Valley Park District Riptides.
The 18-year-old University of Virginia commit kicked off her meet with wins in the 200 IM, her best event, in 1:54.36, and the 200 fly in 1:59.22. The 200 IM swim was about three-tenths shy of her best, while the 200 fly was a full-second improvement and her first time under two minutes.
She also split 22.42 on the anchor leg of Fox Valley’s 19th-place 200 free relay, which will give her future Virginia coaches, who love versatility in their swimmers, a jolt.
While Hayes is the biggest name at this meet, her results were perhaps not the most exciting.
Among the headline events was the girls’ 100 breaststroke, where Taylor Stasny from the Munster Swim Club in Indiana swam 1:01.33, dropping 1.3 seconds off her time from Winter Juniors.
That time now ranks her 6th among swimmers 17-and-younger this season nationally. She is committed to Liberty University next fall, where on Friday night their top breaststroker Heather Gardner, a senior, split 1:01.36 on the medley relay (she’s been 1:01.03).
Not far behind her was Wildcat Aquatics’ Grace Koenig-Song, who at just 13 years old swam 1:01.94. That’s the fastest time by a 13-year-old so far this season, and the 7th-fastest in USA Swimming history (just ahead of Alex Walsh).
In total, the top five finishers in that race were under 1:03, and another two were under 1:04.
In this race, it was Johnson, an Arizona State commit, who out-raced Bey, an Indiana commit and the 9th-ranked swimmer in the class of 2025, 53.75-53.95. Johnson swim knocked half-a-second off his lifetime best, making him now faster than Bey’s fastest. Johnson is class of 2024, but both swimmers are 17.
It was Johnson’s front half that won the race for him, out half-a-second ahead of Bey. Bey, the better 200 breaststroker of the pair, closed in the back half, but ran out of real estate at the touch.
FMC’s Nojus Bertulis hung with them for most of the race and ultimately finished 3rd in a best time of 54.74. He has not yet announced a college choice for the fall.
Other Day 1 highlights:
- Jeffrey Hou from the host FMC club swam 1:47.19 to win the boys’ 200 IM. That cuts three-tenths of a second off his previous best time that won him the Illinois High School State Championship in February. He’s committed to Penn for next fall.
- Aiden Musick from Wildcat won the 200 fly in 1:46.69, knocking about seven-tenths off his best time. He was locked in a near dead-heat going into the last 50, but a 27.87 split pulled him away from Henry Guo (1:47.00), Jeffrey Hou (1:47.05), and Tyler Bardak (1:47.31).
- FMC won the 200 free relay in 1:20.27, including a lot of the guys mentioned above. Bertulis led off in 20.78, Johnson was 2nd in 19.45, Aiden Musso split 19.77, and Hou anchored in 20.27 on his 3rd swim of the session. A deep FMC club actually went 1-2 in the race.