2014 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 15-16

Anne Lepesant
by Anne Lepesant 7

December 30th, 2014 News

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

2014 Honorees: Katie Drabot and Sean Grieshop

If you’ve been following along as we’ve released our 2014 Swammy Award winners for age-group swimmers, you may have noticed that there is truly outstanding youth swimming in every corner of the United States. This group of 15-16-year-olds provides us the opportunity to shine the light on several more regions that are developing exceptional athletes.

15-16 Girls

Katie Drabot – Ozaukee Aquatics, Cedarburg, Wisconsin

2014 was quite a year for Katie Drabot. The Cedarburg High School junior established herself as one of the country’s best 200 freestylers, in short-course yards, short-course meters, and long-course meters. Drabot began the year with an outstanding NCSA Spring Championships meet, winning the 400y IM and placing in the top-8 in the 50/100/200y free, 200 breast, and 200y IM (she also finaled in the 500y free and 100y breast).

This summer, at the Phillips 66 National Championships, she made finals in 100m free, 200m free, 200m IM, and 400m IM. She achieved Olympic Trials cuts in 100/200m free, 400m IM, and 200m breast and was selected to the USA National Junior Team for the 100/200m free. From there Drabot went on to represent the US at Junior Pan Pacs where she won the 200m free with the 10th fastest time swum by an American woman of any age in 2014.

Drabot’s fall was equally impressive. Traveling with USA Swimming’s 18 & Under World Cup team, Drabot went 1:54.45 in the SCM 200 free for a third-place finish in Tokyo, and 1:54.32 for a silver medal in Singapore. Her performances ranked her fourth in the world and led to an invitation to compete in the individual event at the 2014 Short Course World Championships in Doha. (Drabot had already been named to the team but had been scheduled only to participate on the 800 free relay.)

Two weeks after the World Cup tour, Drabot was back home leading Cedarburg High School to a second-place finish at the Wisconsin Girls Division 1 State Meet. She won the 200 and 500 freestyles, lowering her own state record in the first (with 1:45.40) and smashing Aja Van Hout’s record in the second (with 4:43.09).

As a 16-year-old, Drabot had 11 swims in the top ten: 400y IM, 200m free (2nd); 200y free, 200y IM, 100m free (4th); 100y free (5th); 200m IM (6th); 400m IM (9th); and 50y free, 200y breast, and 200m breast (10th). As a 17-year-old, she closes out the year with the third-fastest 200y free and fourth 500y free.

Honorable Mention

In alphabetical order:

Becca Mann, North Baltimore Aquatic Club, Baltimore, Maryland

Becca Mann at 2014 Open Water Nationals. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Becca Mann at 2014 Open Water Nationals. Photo: Anne Lepesant

When you think about how much experience Becca Mann has on the national and international scenes, it’s hard to believe she was still only 16 for 11 months in 2014.

In her first year with North Baltimore, Mann won the 10K at Open Water Nationals and earned a spot on the US team competing at Pan Pacs in Australia, where she placed fourth in the 800m free. At Phillips 66 Nationals in Irvine, Mann was third in the 800m free, fourth in the 400m IM and fifth in the 400m free.

Mann had the fastest 800m free, 1500m free, and 400m IM in the nation for 16-year-old girls. She was 2nd in 1650 free and 400m free; 4th in 200m free and 200m fly; 5th in 200m IM; 7th in 200y fly, and 9th in 500y free. In the lone month that she was 17, Mann achieved the second-fastest 1000y free in the country, 3rd 400y IM, and 7th 500y free.

Beata Nelson, Southwest Aquatic Team, Wisconsin

Beata Nelson was the only non-Katie Ledecky national age group record-breaker in 2014 in the girls’ 15-16 age bracket. Five days after lowering her own Wisconsin state high record in the 100 fly and eclipsing Katie McLaughlin’s NAG of 51.78 with a 51.70, Nelson whacked another .62 off her time at the Arena Grand Prix at Minneapolis to settle the new NAG at 51.08.

Nelson was a B-finalist in both the 50m back and 50m fly at Phillips 66 Nationals, and a C-finalist in the 100m fly. She qualified for 2016 Olympic Trials in the 100m back and 100m fly. At the Wisconsin Girls Division 1 State Meet in November, she led off the Verona Area/Mount Horeb medley relay in 24.62, then went on to win individual titles in the 100 fly and 100 back, lowering her own record in the latter by .04 to 53.15.

Nelson finished atop the 16-year-old rankings in 100y back and 100y fly. She also had top-ten finishes in 200y IM (3rd); 50y free (4th); 100y free (7th); 200y back (10th); and 100m fly (10th).

Allie Szekely, Central Bucks Swim Team, Pennsylvania

Allie Szekely on podium after winning 200bk at 2014 Summer Juniors. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Allie Szekely after winning 200m back at 2014 Speedo Junior Nationals. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Allie Szekely had a terrific summer and an even better fall. If we were to give a Perseverance Award, Szekely would be in contention after her performances at Speedo Junior Nationals last summer. As a 14-year-old, Szekely had blown everyone away at 2012 Juniors, winning the 100m breast, 200m breast, 200m IM, and 400m IM. She set a meet record in the 200 breast and finished with 92 points, second only to Gillian Ryan, two years her senior. After a disappointing 2013 long course season, Szekely came back in 2014 with renewed purpose and won… the 200m back. She finished second in the 200m IM, fifth in the 100m breast, and 24th in the 100m fly, and earned 2016 Olympic Trials cuts in 200 back, 100 breast, and 200 IM.

At the Speedo Tom Dolan Invitational in December, Szekely won the 100y back, 200y back, 100y breast, 200y breast, 200y IM, and 400y IM, establishing new PBs in each event and breaking the PVS Open record in the 200 back and both IMs. Szekely is now in the top ten of all time in the 200y back, 200y breast, and 400y IM for 15-16 girls.

Szekely wrapped up 2014 with the fastest 400y IM in the country and was ranked 2nd in 200y breast, 200y IM, and 200m back; 3rd in 200y back, 200m breast, and 200m IM; 4th in 100m breast; and 7th in 100y back and 100y breast.

15-16 Boys

Sean Grieshop – Nitro Swimming, Austin, Texas

Sean Grieshop, 2014 Speedo Junior Nationals. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Sean Grieshop, 2014 Speedo Junior Nationals. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Get ready to see this name a lot in 2015; Sean Grieshop will be 16 for most of it and if he continues along the path he is on right now, we should see an attack on the NAG recordbook.

Grieshop turned 16 just a week before Winter Juniors, but you would never have guessed by the way he tore up Federal Way. He won the 500y (4:16.59) free and 1650y free (14:45.40), setting meet AND boys 15-16 national age group records in both. He also won the 400y IM (missing the meet record by .26) and finished in the top-eight in the 200y free and 200y IM, and the top-16 of the 200y breast. He also led off Nitro’s 4x200y free relay with a PB of 1:36.87, which would have earned him fourth place in the individual event had he swum that time in finals. Grieshop was awarded High Point Award at the end of the meet.

Grieshop’s summer hinted at the fall that was to come. At Speedo Junior Nationals in Irvine, the 15-year-old placed second in the 400m and 800m frees, 16th in the 200m back, and 24th in the 200m free. He won a bronze medal in the 1500 at Junior Pan Pacs and was 9th in the 400m IM. Grieshop was a member of the USA 18 & Under World Cup team this fall, and he placed 7th in the SCM 400 free, 5th in the SCM 1500 free, and 4th in the SCM 400 IM in Singapore.

Grieshop was the Number One 15-16 swimmer in 500y free, 1650y free, 400y IM, 800m free, 200m IM, and 400m IM. His other top-ten swims included: 1000y free (2nd); 400m free, 1500m free (3rd); 200y free (5th); 200y IM and 200m free (8th); and 200y breast (9th).

Short Course NAGs

  • 500 free – 4:16.59 (12/11/14)
  • 1650 free – 14:45.40 (12/13/14)

Honorable Mention

In alphabetical order:

Ryan Hoffer, Scottsdale Aquatic Club, Scottsdale, Arizona

How is this for perspective: Ryan Hoffer’s 19.38 50 free would have made the B final at 2014 NCAA Division I Championships. At 42.67, his 100 free would have just missed at 20th. Similarly, his 100 fly of 46.42 would have tied for 19th. Hoffer is 16.

Hoffer has been sub-20 in the 50y free eleven times; just when you think a 16-year-old can’t go any faster, he takes another chunk out of his NAG. The latest round came at Speedo Winter Juniors, where Hoffer went 19.45 in prelims, then 19.38 in finals to win the event and set a new NAG standard, more than a half-second under Caeleb Dressel’s old record. Hoffer’s performance in the 100 free was even more remarkable. He dropped a 43.05 in prelims to take down Dressel’s NAG of 43.29, then dropped another 4/10 in finals to become the first 16-year-old in history to break 43 seconds. His 42.67 also broke Dressel’s meet record. Hoffer didn’t stop with sprint freestyle, though. He also broke Alex Valente’s NAG in the 100 fly by a half-second, with 46.42; that time erased Joseph Schooling’s meet record from 2012 (46.70).

Hoffer ended the year with the top times for 15-16 boys in 50y free, 100y free, and 100y fly. He was 2nd in 100y back; 4th in 50m free; 7th in 100m free; and 10th in 100m fly.

Short Course NAGs:

  • 50 free – 19.53 (11/8/2014) Arizona St. A1A State High School Championships
  • 50 free – 19:45p (12/11/2014) 2014 Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
  • 50 free – 19.38 (12/11/2014) 2014 Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
  • 100 free – 43.05 (12/13/2014) 2014 Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
  • 100 free – 42.67 (12/13/2014) 2014 Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
  • 100 fly – 46.42 (12/12/2014) 2014 Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA

Maxime Rooney, Pleasanton Seahawks, Pleasanton, California

Maxime Rooney on the podium at 2014 Summer Juniors. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Maxime Rooney on the podium at 2014 Summer Juniors. Photo: Anne Lepesant

Maxime Rooney had 11 swims on top-ten lists for 2014, but he saved the best for last. At the California/Nevada Speedo Sectionals held at East Los Angeles College Swim Stadium in December, Rooney became only the second 16-year-old in history to swim under 1:35 in the 200y free. After a 1:35.16 in prelims, Rooney went 1:34.57 in finals to set the Sectional meet record and break Kyle Gornay’s NAG of 1:34.99.

Rooney had an excellent long course season as well, culminating in a second-place finish at Speedo Junior Nationals in the 100m free and 200m free, and a third in the 200m fly. He was named to the National Junior Team for his performances in the 100/200m free and 100/200m fly. He achieved 2016 Olympic Trials cuts in 100/200m free, 100m back, and 100/200m fly.

Rooney finished the year ranked first in the 200y free, 100m free, and 200m free; 2nd in 100m fly and 200m fly; 4th in 500y free; 5th in 100y free; 6th in 200y back; 7th in 100m back; 8th in 200m back; and 9th in 200y IM.

Short Course NAGs:

  • 200 free – 1:34.57 (12/21/2014) December CA/NV Sectionals

True Sweetser, Gator Swim Club, Gainesville, Florida

Sweetser had a breakout year in 2014, improving by staggering amounts in his top events. In long course season, Sweetser dropped about 10 seconds in the 400m free over the course of the summer, finished 20th at Phillips 66 Nationals, and made the National Junior Team. He was also selected for his 1500, in which he dropped around 53 seconds and placed 13th.

At AT&T Winter Nationals in December, Sweetser dropped 9 seconds in the 500y free to post the top qualifying time, then finished fourth in finals behind seasoned veterans Connor Jaeger, Townley Haas, and Ryan Feeley. Sweetser lopped 17 seconds off his seed time to finish first in the slower heats of the 1650 free, and at the conclusion of finals he wound up with the bronze medal.

Sweetser ended 2014 with seven top-ten times including the 1500m free (1st); 400m free (2nd); 800m free (3rd); 1000y free (4th); 500y free (5th); 1650y free and 200m free (both 6th).

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7 years ago

Surprised to not see Bilquist? She had an amazing summer season

7 years ago

Well-reasoned choices. For the boys, Grieshop and Hoffer are 2017 recruits and knowing that it’s early in the process, does Hoffer appear to be the more prized college recruit due to his immediate value on NCAA relays? To me, it looks like Hoffer is the early favorite to be Swimswam’s #1 2017 male recruit.

Rooney and Sweetser are 2016 recruits and both should be in the top 4 for that class, and I think as of today, Rooney might be the Swimswam #1 due to his versatility.

Varsity Swimmer
7 years ago

When I look at the 15-16’s it is scary! Every single one of these swimmers, even the honorable mentions, have such high potentials!
USA is going to be even more of a POWERHOUSE in the coming years! 🙂

bobo gigi
7 years ago

I agree with both choices.
But I think that Sierra Schmidt deserved a little mention.
Also cool to see Miss Szekely back at her best and even stronger than ever.
Beata Nelson and Ryan Hoffer are short course beasts but still have everything to prove in long course.
Great season overall for Katie Drabot.
Sean Grieshop has a terrific international future ahead of him. In distance freestyle or IM. Or both. Erik Vendt like?
And Maxime Rooney is the future of US 200 free on the men’s side.

Reply to  bobo gigi
7 years ago

Sierra Schmidt had a great year with some outstanding races!

7 years ago

Whatever NAGs Sean drops in IM will not last long., His brother, Jack, will break them. Jack, turned 13 recently, just swam 200IM under 2 minutes and he is the strongest kid his age I have ever seen. He swims 200 fly same pace from beginning to end.

lane 0
7 years ago

Grieshop is the man!

Bobby hackett’s 1500m Nag record?

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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