2014 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 11-12

Anne Lepesant
by Anne Lepesant 14

December 27th, 2014 News

To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.

2014 Honorees: Alex Walsh and Ethan Dang

The 11-12 age bracket is one of the most impressive groups of athletes you’ll find in the sport of swimming. These workhorses swim 18 short-course and 17 long-course events; it’s the last group to compete in the 50-stroke events and the first group to take on the 200-stroke and longer distance freestyle and IM events. Still growing and often with no discernable specialty yet, many of these kids actually compete in all 35 events.

That said, there may not have been a better year in recent memory for this age group than 2014. The number of superlative athletes this year was astounding. On the girls’ side, six short-course yards national age group records were broken. The boys were even more impressive, with seven long-course meters NAGs and 9 of 18 possible short-course records getting rewritten.

It remains to be seen whether or not this was just an incredible year or whether it’s becoming the new normal. A lot of credit is due the age group coaches across the country; the quality of coaching devoted to this level of swimmers is improving every year and we see the results in the recordbooks.

11-12 Girls

Alex Walsh – Chelsea Piers Aquatics Club, Stamford

, Connecticut
(Although she moved to Nashville Aquatic Club this fall, her entire 12-year-old career was spent in Connecticut so it’s Chelsea Piers who deserve the mention.)

Alexandra Walsh had a phenomenal year: three national age group records, 16 top-ten finishes –9 of them #1s– and a pair of Number One IMX scores. Walsh began the year on a high note with two NAGs at the Connecticut Short Course Age Group Championship where she lowered the national standards in the 200 breast (2:15.64) and 100 IM (56.76). Two weeks later she followed that performance up with a national record in the 200 back (1:58.31) at the Eastern Zone Short Course Championships. She had six more swims at the top for 12-year-old girls in the United States: 100y breast, 200y IM, 100/200m back, and 100/200m breast.

Walsh was also second in the country in the 50y free, 100y back, 50y breast, 100m back, and 100m fly; third in the 200m IM; and sixth in the 100m free. She wrapped up the 2013-14 short course IMX season as the Number One-ranked 12-year-old girl in the country, and she repeated that feat for the 2014 long-course season.

Short Course NAGs
200 breast – 2:15.64 (3/13/14)
100 IM – 56.76 (3/13/14)
200 back – 1:58.31 (3/27/14)

This fall Walsh aged up and moved to Tennessee, where she continues to improve as a member of Nashville Aquatic Club. She is currently the Number One 13-year-old in the country at the end of this fall’s short course season in 50y free, 100y breast, and 200y IM. She is also ranked in the top ten in 100/200y back and 200y breast.

Walsh competed at Speedo Winter Juniors in December in the 50y free, 100/200y back, 100/200y breast, and 200y IM and made the B final in both the 100 breast and 200 IM.

Runner Up

Regan Smith – South Metro Storm, Lakeville, Minnesota: With three national age group records to her name, Regan Smith had an outstanding 2014 herself. Smith took down the 11/12 NAGs in the 50y back (25.69), 100y back (54.21), and 100y fly (54.73) at the Minnesota High School League Girls AA Championships in November. Other top-ten finishes included: 50/100m back and 50m fly (all 1st), 200m back (2nd), 200y back (3rd), 50y fly (4th), 200y free (6th), 200y fly and 100y IM (8th), and 100y free (10th). In IMX rankings, Smith was #1 among 11-year-old girls for the 2013-14 SCY season and #11 for 12-year-old girls in the LCM season.

Short Course NAGs
50 back – 25.69r (11/14/14)
100 back – 54.62p (11/14/14)
100 back – 54.21 (11/14/14)
100 fly – 55.22p (11/14/14)
100 fly – 54.73 (11/14/14)

Honorable Mention

In alphabetical order:

  • Madelyn Donohoe – The Fish, McLean, Virginia: What Donohoe’s good at (distance free), she’s really, really good at. No one comes close. Donohoe was Number One for the year in the 400m free and 500y free, 50y back, and 1000y free (by 17 seconds), 800m free (by 7), 1650 free (by 28), and 1500m free (by 52). She had three other top-ten finishes: 200y free (4th), 200m free (6th), and 400y IM (10th).
  • Kate Douglass – Westchester Aquatic Club, New Rochelle, New York: Douglas was ranked in the top-ten an impressive 16 times in 2014. She was #1 in the 50m breast; 2nd in the 100/200y breast, 100/200y IM, 100/200m breast, and 200m IM; 3rd in 50y breast and 50m fly; 4th in 50y free, 400y IM, and 50m free; 8th in 50y fly and 9th in 100y free and 100y fly. She finished the 2013-14 SCY season the 10th-ranked 11-year-old in IMX scores, was the 12th 12-year-old in LCM, and is currently the #1 12-year-old in SCY for 2014-15.
  • Andrea Santander – Gulliver Swim Club, Miami, Florida: Santander had a consistently strong year from beginning to end. She had the 4th IMX score for 11-year-olds in the 2013-14 SCY season, the 3rd for 12-year-olds in the 2014 LCM season, and currently sits at #2 for 12-year-olds in the 2014-15 SCY season. Santander was the Number One 200y freestyler in the country in 2014, and also had the top-ranked 40/100/200m free and 100m fly. Other top-ten finishes included 400m IM (2nd), 400y IM and 400m free (3rd in each), 100/500y free (4th in each), 1650 free and 50y back (5th in each), 50y free (6th), 200y IM (7th), and 200m IM (8th).
  • Chase Travis – Delaware Swim Team, Wilmington, Delaware: Travis figured among the top ten in the nation 13 times in 2014. She logged the fastest 400y IM; was 2nd in the 500y/400m free, 800m free, and 1500m free; 3rd in 200m free; 4th in 1000y free and 200y back; 5th in 200m IM, 6th in 200m IM, and 7th in 200y free, 200y fly, and 400m IM. Travis was the second-ranked 11-year-old in IMX scores for the 2013-14 SCY season, the Number One 11-year-old through the LCM season, and is #6 so far in the 2014-15 SCY season.

11-12 Boys

Ethan Dang – King Aquatic Club, Seattle, Washington

There are almost not enough superlatives to describe what Ethan Dang accomplished in 2014. The 5’4” 12-year-old kept up a continued assault on the national age group breaststroke records throughout the year. He reset the standards in just about every distance in both short-course yards and long-course meters, culminating in a qualification for Winter Junior Nationals – an astounding accomplishment for a 12-year-old boy.

Dang wasn’t just the fastest breaststroker in the country; he was the fastest by a huge margin. This fall he finished .8 ahead of number two in the 50 breast; 2.1 seconds in the 100; and 6.2 seconds in the 200. Dang rewrote the recordbooks in the 50y breast (27.20), 100y breast (58.17), 200y breast (2:05.56), 100m breast (1:08.96), and 200m breast (2:27.88).

In addition to those five #1 finishes, Dang topped the nation in the 50m breast and 100y IM. He was second in 50y free and 200y/200m IM; fifth in 400m IM; sixth in 50m free; 7th in 100y free; and 10th in 50y fly. Dang was also the #3 11-year-old in IMX for the 2013-14 SCY season and the #5 12-year-old for LCM.

Short Course NAGs
200 breast – 2:09.37 (11/23/2014)
50 breast – 27.20* (12/6/2014 *split in the 100 breast)
100 breast – 58.53p (12/6/2014)
100 breast – 58.36 (12/6/2014)
200 breast – 2:09.08p (12/7/2014)
200 breast – 2:05.56 (12/7/2014)
100 breast – 58.17 (12/19/14)

Long Course NAGs
200 breast – 2:29.01 (7/12/2014)
100 breast – 1:08.96 (7/26/2014)
200 breast – 2:27.88 (7/24/2014)

Runner Up

As evidence of what an amazing year it was for 12-year-old boys, there were two athletes who, in any other year, would have been hands-down Swimmer of the Year: Vinny Marciano and Destin Lasco.

Vinny Marciano – Morris County Swim Club, Morristown, New Jersey: Of the 35 events in the 11-12 age group, Marciano finished first in 8 of them and among the top ten in 21. He established new national age group records in the 50y free (21.78), 100y free (47.89), 50y back (24.23), 100y back (51.40), 50y fly (23.73), and 100m back (1:00.33).

Marciano was the age group’s top swimmer in the 50/100y free, 50/100y back, 50/100y fly, 50m free and 100m back. He was second in 500y free, 200y back, 100m free, and 50m back; third in 100/200y IM, 200m back, and 100m fly; fourth in the 200y free and 200m free; fifth in the 1650; and sixth in 1000y free and 50m fly. In IMX scores, Marciano was the top-ranked 12-year-old in the 2013-14 short course season.

Short Course NAGs
50 free – 21.78 (4/16/11)
100 free – 47.89 (4/16/14)
50 back – 24.32 (4/16/14)
100 back – 51.40 (4/16/14)
50 fly – 23.63 (4/16/14)

Long Course NAGs
100 back – 1:00.42p (3/29/14)
100 back – 1:00.33 (3/29/14)

Destin Lasco – Pleasantville Aquatics, Pleasantville, New Jersey: Lasco was the other prolific record-breaker in this group. He finished 2014 with NAGs in the 200y back (1:53.42), 100m free (55.04), 200m back (2:10.39), 200m IM (2:15.33), and 400m IM (4:51.03). He was also Number One in the 200y free, 200m free, 50m back, and 200/400y IM. He was second-fastest in 100y free, 50/100y back, 100y IM, and 100m back. Lasco also finished fourth in the 50m free and fifth in the 50y free and 50m fly.

In IMX rankings, Lasco finished the 2013-14 SCY season at #2 for 12-year-old boys, and the LCM season #1.

Short Course NAGs
200 back – 1:53.43 (3/13/14)

Long Course NAGs
200 back – 2:11.59 (7/27/2014)
400 IM – 4:51.03 (7/26/2014)
100 free – 55.04 (8/6/2014)
200 back – 2:10.39 (8/6/2014)
200 IM – 2:15.33 (8/9/2014)

Honorable Mention

In alphabetical order:

  • Will Barao – South Shore YMCA Strypers, Quincy, Massachusetts: Barao had an excellent year, topping the charts in two events (500y free and 200m fly) and placing in the top ten in 13 more. Those include 200y free (2nd); 400m free and 400m IM (3rd); 100/200y IM and 1650 free (4th); 100y free and 200y back (5th); 400 IM (6th); 200m free and 200m IM (8th); 100y free (9th); and 200m free (10th). He was #3 in the IMX rankings for 12-year-old boys in the 2013-14 SCY season and is currently #1 among 13-year-old boys for 2014-15. Moreover he has the top 200/500/1650y free times in the country and the second 400y IM.
  • Rafael Rodriguez – South Florida Aquatic Club, Fort Lauderdale, Florida: Rodriguez finished the year with 16 top-ten swims, including three Number Ones: 400m free, and 1650y/1500m free. He was also 2nd in the 200m free; 3rd in 200m IM and 800m free; 4th in 400y IM; 5th in 500y free; 6th in 100m free, 100m fly, and 200y IM; 7th in 50m fly and 400m IM; 8th in 200y free and 100y IM; and 10th in 200y free. Rodriguez finished the summer LCM season with the third-highest IMX score, and is #1 among 12-year-old boys so far in the 2014-15 SCY season.


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5 years ago

Dang is dang fast! Its great when a normal sized 12 year old is winning and breaking records.

bobo gigi
5 years ago

Why “only” 5’4”? 🙂 It seems normal for a 12-year-old kid. And yes it’s cool to see normal sized kids break NAG records.

You’re right. That US age category is plenty of amazing talents. I respect your choices but I disagree with your honorees. I would have picked Regan Smith on the girls’ side and of course my favorite US young swimmer on the boys’ side Destin Lasco. And talking about size, he’s now 5’10”!

5 years ago

Vinny Marciano easily should have won the award. He broke 6 NAG records in 3 different strokes. Ethan Dang broke 5 NAG records ALL IN BREASTROKE. He didn’t break NAG records in multiple strokes. Only breastroke. I call it a “One-trick pony” Marciano broke records in fly, back, AND free.

Reply to  Swimmer
5 years ago

All 3 swimmers mentioned in this article are deserving of the award. Your comment calling out a 12 year old boy as a “1 trick pony” shows that you are childish and uneducated. Ethan is currently ranked #1 in the 50 Free, 50 Breast, 100 Breast, 200 Breast, 100 IM, and 200 IM. Add in his LCM #1 Rankings and he has 9 to Vinny Marciano’s 8. In addition, the Junior National Qualifying Time may have tipped the scales. Instead of calling swimmer’s “one Trick Ponies”, maybe just recognize all 3 swimmers had outstanding seasons. Thank you.

Reply to  Coach
5 years ago

Totally agree with coach here. Congrats to ALL swimmers. Not sure the fan in Vinny’s corner is really making him look better. Any kid swimming these times represents hard work & commitment certainly not a poor attitude. Need to learn to be a winner in & out of the pool. High five coach.

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swim/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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