2013 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 13 to 14

Anne Lepesant
by Anne Lepesant 8

January 02nd, 2014 Club, News

13-14 Girls

Cassidy Bayer, Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Alexandria VA

It was bound to happen; after all, records are meant to be broken. But this one had stood for 34 years, and we were beginning to wonder if the modern swimming culture would even allow a 14-year-old girl to go that fast. Then in December, NCAP’s Cassidy Bayer finally did what no one had ever done: break Mary T. Meagher’s 1979 NAG record of 1:56.58 in the 200y fly. And she beat it soundly, going 1:56.01.

But Mary T. isn’t the only big name that Bayer erased from the record books this year. En route to seven Potomac Valley Swimming LSC records, she also took out the likes of NCAP teammates Janet Hu (in the 50y free and 400y IM) and Katie Ledecky (in the 200y IM).

The first eleven months of 2013 were good to Bayer, too. In March, for example, she swam a 4:57 500 free, which is 18 seconds faster than she’d been the previous spring. Only 13, Bayer was the youngest competitor at 2013 World Championship Trials in June, but that didn’t seem to intimidate her in the least. Taking a page from Dana Vollmer’s playbook, Bayer performed extraordinarily well under pressure at a very young age, making the B-Final in the 50 fly and winning the C-Final in the 200. Her winning time of 2:11.4, had she managed it in prelims, would have put her into the A-Final and fighting for a spot on the World Championship team.

Bayer ended up the year’s fastest 13-14 girl in the 100/200m fly and 400m IM, and earned a spot on the National Junior Team for her 100m fly. She also had top-ten times in the 50y free, 100 back, 100 fly, and 200 IM. So far this fall, she has the number one 100/200y fly and 200/400y IM in the country for 13-14 girls.

In addition to her 13-14 girls’ NAG record in the 200y fly, Bayer holds the following Potomac Valley Swimming LSC records:

50y free               23.29 (broke Janet Hu’s record)
100y fly                 53.42 (broke multiple times).
200y fly                 1:56.01 (broke her own record, set last year, by 3.02 seconds)
200y IM                2:01.44 (broke Katie Ledecky’s record)
400y IM                4:15.65 (CRUSHED Janet Hu’s record by over three seconds)
100m fly               59.99
200m fly               2:11.44

Bayer doesn’t age out of the 13-14 group until September 2014 so she has the entire summer to keep rewriting history. It’s unlikely that many of those SCY and LCM butterfly marks will escape her this year.

Honorable Mention:

  • Courtney Harnish of York YMCA had an outstanding year, beginning with some breakout swims at YMCA Short Course Nationals, both individually and as an integral member of three meet-record breaking relays (200/400/800y free relays), and ending with twelve top-ten swims for 13-14 girls: 200/400/800/1500m free, 400m IM and 50/200/500/1000/1650y free, 200y fly, and 400y IM. Harnish was the fastest in her age group this year in the 200/400m free, 500y and 1650 free. This summer she achieved four World Championship Trials cuts (200/400/800/1500m free) and was named to the US National Junior Team. At Summer Juniors she led off the York YMCA 800 free relay in 2:02.66, helping them to set the meet record. Harnish broke three Middle Atlantic Swimming LSC records in 2013: 13-14 girls’ 500y free (4:45.15), 1650 (16:13.98), and 400y IM (4:15.85). Since September, Harnish has racked up ten top-ten times, including the number one 200y free (1:47.63), 500y free (4:45.47), and 1650 (16:08.57, which lowered her own Middle Atlantic Swimming record). At 1:59.39, her 200 fly is the second-fastest in the country and is ten full seconds faster than it was last fall.
  • Isabella Rongione of The Fish is a remarkable talent. She wrapped up 2013 with eleven swims in the national top ten (200/400/800/1500m fr, 200m fl, 400m IM, 500/1000/1650y fr, 200y fl, 400y IM), including the number one 800m free and 1500m free. She achieved World Championship Trials cuts in the 400/800/1500m frees. While still 13, Rongione competed in the 2013 FINA World Junior Championships as a member of the National Junior Team and won bronze in the 1500.
  • Carmel Swim Club’s Claire Adams was another outstanding member of this cohort. She had nine top-ten swims (50/200m fr, 100/200m bk, 100/200y fr, 100/200y bk, 200y IM) and posted the fastest 100m back, 100y free and 100y back times in the country. In 2013, Adams set Indiana Swimming LSC records for 13-14 girls’ 200m free, 100/200m back, 100/200y free, 100/200y back, and 200y IM. At Winter Juniors, Adams came within .06 of victory in the 200y free, and thus ends the year with the fall’s fastest time among 15-year-olds (1:45.55).
  • Wisconsin’s Beata Nelson also broke a 13-14 girls’ butterfly NAG this year: In March, swimming for Dane County YMCA, she went 53.36 in the 100y fly to down a 53.44 mark that had been shared by Felicia Lee (2006) and Kendyl Stewart (2009). Then, in November, she took down Janet Hu’s 15-16 girls’ record of 52.40 from 2012, when she won the 100y fly in 52.06 at the Wisconsin Girls Division I State High School Championships. Besides the 100y fly, Nelson had six other top-ten 13-14 swims for the year: 50m fr, 50/100y fr, 100/200y bk, and 200y IM.

13-14 Boys

Michael Andrew, Indie Swimming, Lawrence KS

Michael Andrew took down boys’ 13-14 NAG records everywhere he went, all year long. He began his assault on the record books on June 1, just six weeks after his fourteenth birthday, with a 23.47 in the 50m free at the CRAA Summer Long Course Kick-off meet in Iowa City, Iowa. He was .03 under Caeleb Dressel’s 2011 mark. At Summer Juniors Andrew lowered his own record, going 23.38 to win the B final. The same day he erased Michael Phelps’ 200m IM record of 2:06.50, which had stood since 2000, with a blazing 2:05.13.

This fall he broke all four 100-yard stroke records for 13-14 boys. He closed the year with the nation’s fastest 50/100m free, 100m breast, 100m fly, and 200m IM, in addition to the the 100y free/back/breast/fly and the 200y IM, for 13-14 boys. Michael had top-ten finishes in 100/200m back, 50y free, 200y back, 200y breast, and 400y IM.

Michael Andrew’s 13-14 NAGs at year-end:
100y free             44.73
100y back            48.68
100y breast         55.43
100y fly                 47.47
50m free              23.38
200m IM              2:05.13

Andrew doesn’t age up until mid-April, so be prepared for another go at the long-course marks this spring.

Honorable Mention:

This was a great year if you like watching old NAG records fall by the wayside. Michael Andrew wasn’t the only one rewriting the books. As you move into longer distances the names begin to change: Benjamin Ho, Matthew Hirschberger, Ryan Hoffer, and Reece Whitley were also the fastest-ever 13-14 boys in their respective events in 2013.

  • Benjamin Ho of PEAK Swimming took down Ethan Young’s 200 back NAG in March when he swam a 1:45.73 in prelims at the Southern Sectional Championships at Texas A&M. He also etched his name in the Pacific Swimming LSC book with 13-14 boys’ records in the 100y free, 100/200y back, and 100/200m back. Ho closed out 2013 with eleven national top-ten swims: 50/100m fr, 100/200m bk, 50/100/200y fr, 100/200y bk, and 200/400y IM. Of these, he had the fastest 100/200m back and 200y back in the country.
  • Matthew Hirschberger of Clearwater Aquatic Team picked up a NAG record of his own in March when he sliced 5.6 seconds off Nicholas Caldwell’s 2008 1000y free of 9:07.95, going 9:02.37 and lowering his own personal best by an astounding 21 seconds. Hirschberger finished the year with eight top-ten swims, five of which were number ones (200/800/1500m free, 1000/1650y free).
  • Scottsdale Aquatic Club’s Ryan Hoffer started the year breaking Edward Kim’s 100y free NAG record of 45.21, and lowering his own 50y free NAG, at Federal Way in March. In the 100 he first went 45.10 in prelims to take the crown, then had a big drop in finals to become the youngest swimmer ever to break the 45-second barrier with 44.81. (Note: Michael Andrew broke this record in December.) Hoffer ended the year with the fastest-ever 13-14 boys’ 50y free, 20.02. He originally broke the record last December when he squeaked by Kyle Bubolz’s 2001 time of 20.79 with a 20.78 prelims swim; he then lowered his new mark in finals to 20.45. In March 2013 he broke it twice again: 20.08 in prelims and 20.02 in finals. Now 15, he’s already got the 50/100y frees for 15/16 boys. Other 13-14 top-ten swims he had were 100m/100y fly and 100y back.
  • Penn Charter’s Reece Whitley went back and forth with Michael Andrew breaking and re-breaking each other’s 100y breast NAG (at different meets, on the same day!), but he’s all alone at the top of the charts in the 200y breast with his 2:00.14 from the Tom Dolan Invitational in December. His swim bested Curtis Ogren’s time of 2:01.17 from 2010. Whitley is only 13 so he has another year to become the youngest swimmer in history to dip below the 2:00 mark in the event.
  • Although Maxime Rooney of Pleasanton Seahawks aged up before the summer, he still ended the year with twelve top-ten performances for 13-14 boys. These include the 100/200/400m free and 200m fly, and the 200/500y free, 100/200y back, 100/200y fly, and 200/400y IM. His 200m fly and 400y IM were the top times in the country. Rooney still hold the 13-14 boys’ 200y free NAG record that he set in 2012, and has already begun his assault on the Pacific Swimming LSC records for 15-16 boys with his 200m back record of 2:03.17.
  • NAG record-breakers aren’t the only impressive swimmers around: Sean Grieshop, now with Nitro Swimming, had an outstanding year of his own, finishing in the top-ten fourteen times. He showed a great deal of versatility, as these fourteen swims were in every stroke, and all in the mid-distance ranges. They include the 200m/400m fr, 200m bk, 200m br, 200m fl, 200m/400m IM and their SCY equivalents 200/500y fr, 200y bk, 200y br, 200y fl, and 200/400y IM. Grieshop had the top times in the nation in the 400m free, 400m IM, and 200y free.

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7 years ago

I hope Michael Andrew and Ryan hoffer have better careers than Kyle Bubolz.

Reply to  Wisco
7 years ago

Pretty harsh comment. Don’t see the need for it.

Reply to  Wisco
7 years ago

Last time I checked Bubolz was an NCAA and USA National Champion. Why don’t you focus on the positive side of things before you decide to malign a good kid and his achievements?

Reply to  JB
7 years ago

Yeah really…we could all be so lucky as to ‘flame out’ to the tune of 19 All-American honors, several Big Ten Swimmer of the Week honors, winning a couple of Big Ten titles, breaking a bunch of Northwestern school records, part of an NCAA Record setting relay. Yeah man, I bet Northwestern wishes they hadn’t signed him. His performance was a real low point for that program.

Wait, what? That doesn’t make any sense, does it?

Reply to  Braden Keith
7 years ago

Couldn’t agree more Braden. I’m so sick of non-swimmers making disparaging comments about anyone that doesn’t win multiple Olympic gold medals.

7 years ago

Congratulations to Cassidy! She’s a lovely girl, a great spirit, and a fierce competitor. I wish her all continued success.

bobo gigi
7 years ago

Cassidy Bayer is a star in the making. She will make the 2016 US olympic team with Miss McLaughlin in the 200 fly.
Can’t wait to see what Ryan Hoffer and Reece Whitley will do next summer in long course.
Matthew Hirschberger was also impressive this year. 9.02 in the 1000 free and 15.14 in the 1650 free when he was 14.
Sean Grieshop is another guy to watch. 4.26 in the 400 IM last summer at 14. Close to the 13/14 NAG record from Michael Phelps.
Also interesting to watch the year of Courtney Harnish and Madison Homovich, both great mid-distance, distance freestylers.

7 years ago

What an Incredible Job, Ben Ho, and Coach Abi Liu! GO PEAK!!!!

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

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