To see all of the 2014 Swammy Award winners, presented by TYR, click here.
2014 Honorees: Katie Ledecky and Andrew Seliskar
You may think Katie Ledecky has had enough honors already. But let’s be honest; who else is more qualified to win the age group Swammy? Ledecky’s name on this trophy reminds us that, while she may be the best swimmer in the world, she is still a teenager, and at 17 is rewriting the recordbooks for 17-18 girls. Meanwhile, Andrew Seliskar is tearing it up on the boys’ side. Like Ledecky, he was only 17 in 2014 and thus has an entire summer left to break more NAGs.
Katie Ledecky – Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Bethesda, Maryland
We’ve talked a lot about Ledecky’s 2014 accomplishments (here and here, for starters) so let’s just focus here on age-group swimming.
The World’s Number One Swimmer began the year as a typical (well, maybe not so typical) high school junior representing her school, Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, at the Washington Metropolitan Interscholastic Swimming and Diving Championships. She won both the 200 and 500 freestyles, lowering her own records in both events. In the 200, she re-set the Washington Metros mark in finals with 1:42.38. In the 500, she took 2.67 seconds of her national high school record in prelims, going 4:28.71. That swim also broke the American record and was an automatic qualifying time for NISCA All-American honors. For the boys. (Because she was 16 at the time, it also set the NAG for 15-16 girls, and is faster than her 17-18 record.)
During the summer, Ledecky broke world records five times, all of which wound up in the 17-18 recordbooks. She got a NAG twofer going out in 8:16.18 for the first 800m of her world-record-breaking 1500m (15:34.23) at the TWST Senior Invite, before lowering the 800m to 8:11.00 (another world record) two days later. At Phillips 66 Nationals, Ledecky scratched the 1500 but lowered the 17-18 record in the 400 twice; first she went 3:59.89 in prelims, then 3:58.86 in finals for a world record. At Pan Pacs she took another half-second off the 400 (3:58.37) and absolutely destroyed her 1500 record with 15:28.36.
Finally, in December at AT&T Winter Nationals, she took down a pair of short course age group records (500y free and 1650) to end the year on a high note. In addition to her Number One position in all the freestyle distances from 500y to 1650y and from 200m to 1500m, Ledecky finished the year third in 200y free, 200y IM, and 100m free; fourth in both 400y and 400m IMs; and fifth in 100y free.
Recapping the 17-18 age group records Ledecky set this year, we saw:
Short Course NAGs:
- 500 free – 4:29.54 (12/4/2014) AT&T Winter Nationals, Greensboro, NC
- 1650 free – 15:13.30 (12/6/2014) AT&T Winter Nationals, Greensboro, NC
Long Course NAGs
- 800 free** – 8:16.18 (6/19/2014) TWST Senior Invite Shenandoah, TX
- 1500 free* – 15:34.23 (6/19/2014) TWST Senior Invite Shenandoah, TX
- 800 free* – 8:11.00 (6/22/2014) TWST Senior Invite Shenandoah, TX
- 400 free – 3:59.89p (8/9/2014) 2014 Phillips 66 Nationals, Irvine, CA
- 400 free* – 3:58.86 (8/9/2014) 2014 Phillips 66 Nationals, Irvine, CA
- 400 free* – 3:58.37 (8/23/2014) Pan Pacs, Gold Coast, Australia
- 1500 free* – 15:28.36 (8/24/2014) Pan Pacs, Gold Coast, Australia
**Leadoff of 1500m
Abbey Weitzeil – Canyons Aquatic Club, Santa Clarita, California
Abbey Weitzeil isn’t just fast; she is The-Fastest-American-Ever-to-Swim-the-100y-Free. And she did it all alone, in lane 8, leading off the Canyons Aquatic Club’s 400 free relay at Speedo Winter Juniors in Federal Way. Think what she might do with Simone Manuel swimming on one side of her and Margo Geer on the other.
Weitzeil gave us a hint of what she was capable of when she broke two high school records at the CIF-SS Division 1 Championships in May. She dipped under the 22-second bar and broke Olivia Smoliga’s 2012 public school record by 1/100 with 21.98, and claimed the overall record as well. An hour later she took on the 100 free and eclipsed Dagny Knutsen’s 48.15 public school record from 2009, as well as Missy Franklin’s independent school record of 48.32, going 47.91. She re-broke the 100 with a 47.82 leadoff in Saugus’s 4×100 free relay, and climbed to fifth on the all-time list for 17-18 girls.
Weitzeil then went on to shine in long course meters over the summer. She went after the 50m NAG in time trials at Speedo Juniors and swam a 25.00 to tie Kara Lynn Joyce’s mark from 2004. A week later at Phillips 66 Nationals, Weitzeil cracked the 25-second barrier and thus the NAG with 24.80, but Simone Manuel was even faster and set the new standard at 24.56. Weitzeil nevertheless made the USA’s Pan Pacs team and had some huge swims in Australia. Notably, Weitzeil was part of an American record when Team USA’s 400 free relay (Natalie Coughlin, Weitzeil, Madison Kennedy and Shannon Vreeland) touched in 3:27.70. The quartet broke the previous world and American records (although Netherlands set the world mark with their 3:26.53 first-place finish), and Weitzeil contributed with a split of 51.57.
This fall, Stanford freshman Manuel lowered the 17-18 NAGs in both the 50y and 100y frees at the Art Adamson Invitational, going 21.59 and 46.62, respectively. However, Weitzeil hadn’t had her last word. Leading off Canyons’ 200 free relay, she set the 50y free NAG with 21.49. A day later she broke the American record with her 100y free leadoff of 46.29, a full .33 under Manuel’s mark and one-point-five-three seconds faster than she had been in May.
Weitzeil finished 2014 with the Number One 50y and 100y freestyles in the country, and was second to Manuel in the same events in LCM.
Short Course NAGs:
- 50 free – 21.49r (12/12/2014) 2014 Speedo Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
- 100 free – 46.29r (12/13/2014) 2014 Speedo Winter Juniors, Federal Way, WA
Long Course NAGs:
- 50 free – 25.00tie (7/30/2014) 2014 Speedo Summer Juniors, Irvine, CA
- 50 free – 24.80tt (8/8/2014) 2014 Phillips 66 Nationals, Irvine, CA
In alphabetical order:
Kathleen Baker – SwimMAC Carolina, Charlotte, North Carolina: Baker was one of the big stars of 2014. She kicked off the year with a great Eastern Zone Speedo Championship Series meet at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center in Charlotte, where she won the 100 back, 100 breast, 100 fly, and 200 IM, all with best times. She also clocked PBs in the 200 fly and in the 50/100/200 freestyles while leading off SwimMAC’s 200/400/800 free relays.
This summer, Baker qualified for 2014 Pan Pacs with a runner-up finish in the 200m back at Phillips 66 Nationals. She also placed fourth in the 100m back and 10th in the 200m IM. She went a lifetime best in the 100 back at Pan Pacs, winning the B-final in 1:00.35, which turned out to be the fourth-fastest time in the meet.
Baker’s 11 top-ten swims of 2014 include: 100y back and 100m back (1st); 100y breast, 200y IM, 100m fly, 200m back and 200m IM (2nd); 100y free and 200y free (4th); 200m free (5th); and 100y fly (9th).
Kylie Stewart – Dynamo Swim Club, Chamblee, Georgia: Coming off a much-ballyhooed 2013 in which she won a gold medal at 2013 FINA World Championships, Stewart showed consistency and nice depth in 2014. She finished the year with top-ten times in free, back, fly, and IM, and over a range of distances.
Stewart had a very successful NCSA Spring Championships, notching best times in nearly all her events and finishing top-eight in the 50/200/500/1000 free, 50/100/200 back, 200 fly, and 200/400 IM. At Phillips 66 Summer Nationals, she finaled in 50/100/200m back and 200m fly, achieving 2016 Olympic Trials standards in the 100 back and 200 fly.
A member of the National Team, Stewart closed out 2014 with 10 top-ten swims for 17-18 girls: 200y back (1st); 200m back (3rd); 100y back (4th); 100m back (5th); 200m fly (6th); 200y fly (7th); 200/1000y free and 400y IM (8th); and 500y free (9th).
Andrew Seliskar – Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Bethesda, Maryland
At an age where most swimmers have found their specialties, Andrew Seliskar is still doing everything well. In LCM, Seliskar is among the top 17-18 year-olds of all time in the 200 free, 200 breast, 100/200 fly and 200/400 IM. After this fall’s short-course meets, he figures on the 50/100/200/500 free, 100/200 back, 100/200 breast, 100/200 fly, and 200/400 IM lists.
In February Seliskar broke the national public high school record in the 100 breast swimming for Jefferson High School at the Virginia 5A State Swimming and Diving Championship. His 53.24 prelims swim was a personal best and .15 faster than Steven Stumph’s 2013 swim of 53.39.
He had an excellent summer, as well. At Phillips 66 Summer Nationals, Seliskar finaled in the 200m free, 50/200m fly, and 200/400m IM. He was selected to represent the US at 2014 Junior Pan Pacs, where he won the 200m fly and 200/400m IM, and was second in the 100m fly.
In December, Seliskar broke the national age group record in the boys 17-18 200 fly at the Tom Dolan Invitational, joining an elite list of age-group swimmers to have broken 1:42:
- 1:41.33 Andrew Seliskar 2014 PV NCAP
- 1:41.52 Tom Shields 2010 CA UN
- 1:41.72 Michael Phelps 2003 MD NBAC
- 1:41.78 Mel Stewart 1987 US UN
Seliskar finished the year ranked first in the 200y breast, 200y fly, 200y IM, and 200m fly; second in 100m fly and 200m IM; third in 400m IM; fourth in 200y free; fifth in 200y back, 100y breast and 200m free; sixth in 100y fly; and ninth in 100y back.
Short Course NAGS:
200 fly – 1:41.33 (12/13/2014) Speedo Tom Dolan Invitational
Ryan Murphy – California Aquatics, Berkeley, California
A freshman at Cal, Ryan Murphy lit the college swimming world on fire this year (and thus won our NCAA Male Swimmer of the Year Swammy Award), but he was only 18 for the first half of 2014 so his NCAA records also became the fastest 17-18 swims of all time.
Murphy became the youngest swimmer to crack the 45-second barrier when he led off Cal’s medley relay with a backstroke leg of 44.91. His swim was nearly a half-second (.41) under Jack Conger’s 45.32 from 2012. The next day he lowered the NAG again, going 44.63 in his individual race. Murphy continued on his tear the next day, too, when he lowered his own 2012 NAG in the 200 back by .80 to 1:37.35. That swim earned him the NCAA record as well.
Murphy closed out 2014 the top-ranked 17-18 year-old in the 100/200y back and 100/200m back, and was ninth in the 100y fly.
Short Course NAGs:
- 100 back – 44.63 (3/28/2014) NCAA Men’s Division I Championships
- 200 back – 1:37.35 (3/29/2014) NCAA Men’s Division I Championships
In alphabetical order:
Gunnar Bentz – Dynamo Swim Club, Chamblee, Georgia: Bentz had a strong last year in the 17-18 age group, beginning with the Georgia 1-5A State Swimming & Diving Meet in February. Swimming for St. Pius X Catholic High School, Bentz crushed Eric Shanteau’s 2002 Georgia state record in the 200 IM with 1:45.55. He then broke Jimmy Yoder’s 2013 Georgia state record in the 100 fly with 47.26.
In long course season he made finals at Phillips 66 Summer Nationals in the 100/200m breast and 200/400m IM, earning 2016 Olympic Trials cuts in all of them, as well as a spot on the National Junior Team.
A freshman at University of Georgia, Bentz has already notched a handful of personal bests (200y free, 200y breast, and 200/400y IM). He wrapped up 2014 with top-ten swims in the 400y IM and 200m IM (1st in both); 200y free, 200y breast, and 400m IM (2nd); 200m breast (3rd); 100m breast (5th); and 200m free (6th).
Townley Haas – NOVA of Virginia Aquatics, Richmond, Virginia: Haas was one of the gems of the 17-18 age group in 2014, which is all the more impressive since he didn’t turn 18 until the middle of December.
The 17-year-old Haas won the 100, 200, 400, and 800m free at Speedo Summer Juniors, earning 2016 Olympic Trials cuts in each. Named to the US Junior Pan Pacs squad, he then won the 200m and 800m free and notched best times in the 50/100/200/800.
Haas was runner-up in the 500y free at AT&T Winter Nationals and placed fourth in the 1650. At the conclusion of 2014 he was the fastest 17-18 in the 1000y free and 100/200/800m free; second in 500y free; third in 1650y free and 400m free; fifth in 200y free; and seventh in 50m free.