To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.
2014 Honorees: Courtney Harnish and Michael Andrew
In every sport, there comes from time to time an athlete who is so far beyond his or her peer group that it’s hard to find an appropriate context to evaluate his or her performance. This mind-blowing, once-in-a-generation kind of talent was visited upon the boys’ 13-14 age group over the last year or so in the form of Michael Andrew.
The thing about a swimmer like the 14-year-old Michael Andrew in the age of social media is that everyone is immediately aware of everything he does, has an (expert) opinion, and feels compelled to voice that opinion on any number of platforms. We are not here to make predictions, or infer linear relationships between this swim and that, or even debate training methods. We are just focused on the carnage Andrew wreaked upon the 13-14 national age group recordbooks, something it’s unlikely we’ll see again anytime soon.
Both our 2014 Swammy Award choices are extraordinary talents. Like Andrew, Courtney Harnish is winning this honor for the second year in a row.
Courtney Harnish –YMCA of York County, York, Pennsylvania
If you follow age-group swimming there’s nothing new about the name Courtney Harnish. But the 2014 version was a whole level beyond the Courtney Harnish we saw in 2013.
Harnish has the breadth and depth of few swimmers of her age. Among her 16 top-ten swims in 2014 were all the freestyle distances from the 50 to the mile. The only stroke in which she didn’t post a top-ten time was breast; yet with the top 400 IM time in the country she necessarily holds her own in that discipline, too.
Harnish aged up in mid-April but still finished the year with the top times for 13-14 girls in the 500y free, 1000y free, and 400y IM. She placed 2nd in 200y free and 400m free; 3rd in 1650y free and 800m free; 4th in 200m free; 5th in 100y back and 200m back; 6th in 50/100y free and 400m IM; 8th in 200y back; and 9th in 200y fly and 100m back.
The 13-14 age group may be the last time an IMX ranking is relevant for age-group swimmers, since many of them don’t continue to compete in all the events that make up the score. Harnish was ranked Number One among 14-year-old girls for the 2013-14 short-course season but wasn’t 14 long enough to register a LCM ranking. She was, however, the fourth 15-year-old in long-course season, and is Number 2 among 15-year-olds this fall.
Harnish gained international experience this summer as a member of the National Junior Team, representing the US at Junior Pan Pacs. There she medaled in the 200, 400, and 800m freestyles, taking home gold in the 400. So far this fall she has the fastest time for a 15-year-old in the 500y free and the second-fastest in the 200/1650y free, 200y fly; she is also top-ten in the 200/400y IMs.
In alphabetical order:
- Madison Homovich – North Carolina Aquatic Club, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Homovich was the top-ranked 13-year-old in the country in IMX for the 2013-14 SCY season and the third-ranked 14-year-old for the LCM season. No one topped her in the 400m/800m free and 400m IM, and she had ten other swims that finished in the top ten: 1500m free (2nd); 1000y free, 200m fly and 200m IM (all 3rd); 200y fly and 400y IM (4th); 500y free and 1650 free (5th); 200m free (6th); and 200y free (7th).
- Isabella Rongione, Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Bethesda, Maryland: Rongione moved from The Fish to NCAP at the beginning of 2014 and continued her uninterrupted domination in the distance free events. Rongione was the bronze medalist in the 1500m at Junior Pan Pacs last summer, logging the top time in the country for that event. She had 11 more top-ten times, including 1000y and 1650y free (2nd); 400m IM (3rd); 500y free, 400m free, and 800m free (4th); 200m fly (7th); 200y free, 200y fly, and 400y IM (8th); and 200m free (10th). In IMX rankings, Rongione was fourth among 14-year-olds for the 2013-14 SCY season.
- Taylor Ruck – Scottsdale Aquatic Club, Phoenix, Arizona: Ruck was the Number 2 13-year-old and the Number 3 14-year-old in IMX rankings during the 2013-14 SCY season, and was the 5th 14-year-old last summer. She tends to specialize in the shorter end of the spectrum, and her 13 top-ten times included the nation’s fastest 100/200y free, 100/200y back, and 100/200m free. She was also top-ten in the 500y free (2nd); 400y IM and 200m back (3rd); 400m free (6th); 800m free and 200m IM (7th); and 50m free (10th).
Editor’s Note: Ruck is technically a Canadian, but given that she lives and trains full-time in the United States, we decided to recognize her accomplishments anyway.
Michael Andrew – Indie Swimming, Lawrence, Kansas
It might be easier to say that the only 13-14 short-course records that were not attributed to Michael Andrew during his tenure in the age group were the 500y, 1000y, and 1650 freestyles. Because at one time or another he broke every other record, and most of them more than once. Yes, Andrew is big for his age. He won the lottery when it comes to size and strength, but he still had to get the job done – which he did, again and again, because he loves to race.
Andrew finished the year with 9 short-course and 5 long-course NAGs. Although he only raced as a 14-year-old for a third of the year, he had 15 first-place rankings (50/100/200y free, 100/200y back, 100/200y fly, 200/400y IM, 50/100m free, 100/200m back, 100m fly, 200m IM) and three second place rankings (100/200y breast, 100m breast). What’s so hard to wrap one’s head around is how much faster he was than the competition: he averaged about a second per 50 ahead of the second-ranked swimmer in most events. Andrew was #1 in the IMX rankings in short-course yards for the 2013-14 SCY season with nearly 6100 points – a simply astounding number.
Short Course NAGs
- 50 free – 19.76 (3/26/14)
- 100 free – 43.90 (3/26/14)
- 200 free – 1:38.31 (3/18/14)
- 100 back – 47.83 (3/18/14)
- 200 back – 1:43.15 (4/16/14)
- 100 breast – 53.88 (3/26/14)* later broken by Reece Whitley
- 200 breast – 1:55.52 (3/26/14)* later broken by Reece Whitley
- 100 fly – 46.95 (4/16/14)
- 200 fly – 1:45.39 (3/18/14)
- 200 IM – 1:45.29 (3/26/14)
- 400 IM – 3:52.08 (2/27/14)
Long Course NAGs
- 50 free – 38Tie (1/18/2014)
- 50 free – 23.19TT (1/18/2014)
- 100 back – 57.38 (1/19/2014)
- 100 breast – 1:03.83 (1/19/2014)
- 100 back – 57.13 (2/14/2014)
- 200 IM – 2:04.13( 2/15/2014)
- 100 back – 56.83 (3/15/2014)
- 100 fly – 54.59 (3/16/2014)
- 100 free – 51.30 (3/16/2014)
As a 15-year-old, Andrew represented the US at last summer’s Junior Pan Pacs, medaling in the 100m back. Andrew currently tops the charts in the 50y free, 100y back, 100/200y breast, 100/200y fly, and 200y IM.
Reece Whitley – Penn Charter Aquatic Club, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Only one 14-year-old took on Michael Andrew and won: Reece Whitley. Whitley now owns all four breaststroke records for the age group, having broken them multiple times throughout the year.
Short Course NAGs
- 100 breast – 53.84p (12/12/2014)
- 100 breast – 53.06 (12/12/2014)
- 200 breast – 1:57.87p (12/13/2014)
- 200 breast – 1:55.52 (12/13/2014)
Long Course NAGs
- 200 breast – 2:19.74 (6/29/2014)
- 200 breast – 2:16.48 (7/16/2014)
- 100 breast – 1:03.82 (7/18/2014)
- 100 breast – 1:03.23 (7/30/2014)
Whitley is more than just a breaststroker, though. He was ranked at the top of the IMX list for 13-year-old boys in 2013-14; during the same time he was fifth among 14-year-old boys, and he was fifth in the summer long-course season as well. In addition to his nation-leading times in the 100/200y breast and 100/200m breast, Whitley was second in the 200/400y IM, sixth in the 100y fly, and seventh in the 200m IM. Still 14, Whitley has the season’s top times in the 100/200y breast and 200/400y IM.
In alphabetical order:
- Sean Lee – Swim Pasadena, Pasadena, California: Lee appeared on the 14-year-old top-ten list nine times in 2014. He was 2nd in 200m IM, 3rd in 200m IM, 4th in 200m free, 5th in 100y fly and 400m IM, 6th in 200y fly, 400y IM and 200m fly, and 7th in 200m back. This fall he is among the ten fastest 15-year-olds in 100y back, 200y fly, and 200/400y IM.
- Max Miranda – Bluefish Swim Club, Attleboro, Massachusetts: Miranda, too, had nine top-ten appearances as a 14-year-old in 2014. These include: 200m free and 200m fly (1st); 400m IM (3rd); 200y fly (4th); 1000y and 200m IM, free (6th); 800m and 1500m free (8th); and 200y free (10th). Miranda was the second-ranked 14-year-old by IMX scores in the 2013-14 short course season, and led the nation for 14-year-olds in long course. He is ranked #1 for 15-year-old boys in this fall’s short course season. Miranda currently has top-ten times in 500/1000y free, 200y fly, and 200/400y IM.
- Vance Sanders – Clearwater Aquatic Team, Clearwater, Florida: Only Michael Andrew had more top-ten swims than Sanders in 2014; his 11 best swims included: 100m back, 200m fly (both 2nd); 100/200y back, 100m fly (3rd); 200y free, 200m back (4th); 200y fly, 200m IM (5th); 200m free (8th); and 100m free (9th). Sanders has had an excellent fall season as a 15-year-old, logging top-ten swims in 200/500y free, 100/200y back, and 100/200y fly.