2016 Honorees: Katie Drabot and Michael Andrew
Katie Drabot – Ozaukee Aquatics, Ozaukee, Wisconsin
Drabot entered 2016 having just put on a dominating performance at 2015 Winter Juniors West. She won the 50/100/500y free, 100y fly, and 200/400y IM, and was runner-up (by 7/100) in the 200y free. She was the composite national champion in the 50/100 free, 100 fly, and 200 IM, and won the high point award at the West meet.
Drabot then tore through the 2016 NCSA Spring Championships, winning the 100/200m free, 50m fly, coming in second in the 200m IM, and placing third in the 400m IM and fourth in the 400m free. At 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials she was a semi-finalist in the 200m free and also competed in the 100m free and 100m fly (although she also qualified in the 50/400m free and 200/400m IM). She wrapped up her 18-and-under career with a 7-for-7 performance at 2016 NCSA Summer Championships, where she prevailed in the 50/100/200m free, 50/100m fly, and 200/400m IM, setting meet records in the 200m free, 50m fly, 200m IM, and 400m IM.
This fall as a 19-year-old freshman at Stanford and a member of arguably the best gathering of 200 freestylers in history (we’ll see at 2017 NCAAs, though, won’t we?) Drabot represented Team USA at the FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) 2016 in Windsor, Canada. There she won a silver medal as part of the USA’s 4x200m free relay (she swam in prelims).
Drabot left the 17-18s with 14 swims (50y/50m free, 100y/100m free, 200y/m200 free, 500y/400m free, 100y/100m fly, 200y/200m IM, and 400y/400m IM) on the all-time top 100 lists for 17-18 girls.
Amy Bilquist – California Aquatics, Berkeley, California
Bilquist, who before heading off to college represented Carmel Swim Club, was a freshman at Cal throughout the first half of 2016 where, still 18, she set a national age group record (50.50) in the 100y back in prelims at 2016 Pac-12 Women’s Championships. She eclipsed fellow Golden Bear Rachel Bootsma’s 2012 mark by 4/100.
Bilquist continued her impressive freshman season with a fourth-place finish in the 100y back and a fifth in the 200y back at 2016 NCAA Division I Championships. She also contributed several outstanding splits to Cal’s relays, including a 1:42.89 anchor on the 4×200 free relay and a 21.64 anchor on the national-champion 4×50 free relay.
Bilquist posted the #1 times in the country for 17-18 girls during the 2016 calendar year in the 100 back and 200 back, both in SCY and LCM. She aged out of the 17-18s with top-100 rankings all-time in the 50y free (#13), 100y free (#8), 200y free (#41), 100y back (#1), and 200y back (#4), as well as the 50m free (#4), 100m free (#25), 100m back (#3), and 200m back (#4).
Beata Nelson: Madison Aquatic Club (WI) – Only 17 for most of the year, Nelson was nevertheless one of the bright stars in the age category. She had an outstanding short course season, beginning with her final high school season in the fall of 2015, and culminating in successive meets in March, 2016: Wisconsin 13&Over Short Course State Championships and Dolfin Junior National Cup. At the 2015 WIAA Girls Division 1 State Meet she won the 100 fly (51.62) and 100 back (52.13) with new state record. Between the two March meets she logged PBs in the 50/100/200y free, 200y back, 200y IM, 200m free, and 100/200m back.
Nelson had a disappointing long course season, but has bounced back this fall. In her first year at University of Wisconsin, the now 18-year-old Nelson had a strong first half of the season, twice earning B1G Freshman of the Week honors.
Nelson is currently on the top-100 list for 17-18 girls in 8 events, with another 3/4 of a year left to improve her positions. At the moment she ranks #11 in the 50y free, #45 in the 100y free, #17 in the 100y back, #19 in the 200y back, #10 in the 100y fly, and #42 in the 200y IM in SCY; she is also #30 in the 100m back and #28 in the 100m fly.
Brooke Forde: Lakeside Swim Team (KY) – Forde had a breakout year in 2016, emerging as one of the best IMers of all time. She rewrote her personal bests in every event possible, and represented Team USA at both 2016 Junior Pan Pacific Championships and FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 in Tokyo and Hong Kong. Forde took home a silver medal in the 400m IM at Junior Pan Pacs, and she won the B final of the 200m breast. Forde wrapped up 2016 with an outstanding meet at Winter Junior Championships East, where she won the 200 breast (2:09.12) and 400 IM (4:02.51) with new meet records, was runner-up in the 200 fly and 200 IM, and placed third in the 200 free.
Forde has 5 SCY and 4 LCM swims on the all-time top-100 list for 17-18 girls so far, including a #14 in the 200y breast, #12 in the 200y IM, #6 in the 400y IM, #43 in the 200m breast, #27 in the 200m IM, and #18 in the 400m IM.
NAG Notes: There were, in fact, quite a few new national age group records in the women’s 17-18 age category in 2016. In addition to those mentioned above, Katie Ledecky (Nation’s Capital Swim Club) broke two LCM marks at the beginning of the year, while Miranda Tucker (Indiana), Annie Ochitwa (Arizona), and Ella Eastin (Stanford) took down four SCY NAGs at NCAAs:
- Katie Ledecky: 200m free – 1:54.43 – 1/16/16
- Katie Ledecky: 800m free – 8:06.68 – 1/17/16
- Miranda Tucker: 100y breast – 58.10 – 3/18/16
- Annie Ochitwa: 100y fly – 51.02 – 3/18/16
- Ella Eastin: 200y fly – 1:51.04 – 3/19/16
- Ella Eastin: 200y IM – 1:51.65 – 3/17/16
- Ella Eastin: 400y IM – 3:58.40 – 3/18/16
Michael Andrew – Race Pace Club, Lawrence, Kansas
Andrew was only a member of the 17-18 club for 2/3 of the year, and yet he was the only national age group record-breaker in the age group. Andrew broke the 100m breast mark not once, but five times in a row, in the span of a month, going from 1:00.46 to 1:00.37 to 59.96 to 59.85, to 59.82.
Swimming at U.S. Olympic Trials, Andrew achieved PBs in three events: 50m free, 100m breast (the 59.82 NAG referred to above) and 200m IM. He made semi-finals in those three events, plus the 100m fly, and was a finalist in the 100 breast (4th). At the end of the summer he competed at both the U.S. Open and Summer Junior Nationals, and won the high point award at both meets.
Andrew spent the fall competing at nearly every stage of the FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 before representing Team USA at the 2016 USA College Challenge and 13th FINA World Swimming Championships (25m) in Windsor, Canada. Swimming against college students and professional swimmers alike, the 17-year-old won the 200y IM at the College Challenge, and the SCM 100 IM at World Championships; he set a World Junior Record in the 100m IM.
Andrew is already ranked in the top 100 of 17-18 boys in a number of events: 50y free (6th), 100y back (95th), 100y breast (3rd), 100y fly (25th), 200y IM (13th), 50m free (4th), 100m free (26th), 100m back (14th), 100m breast (1st), 200m breast (14th), 100m fly (22nd), and 200m IM (3rd).
Ryan Hoffer – Scottsdale Aquatic Club, Scottsdale, Arizona
Hoffer continued his impressive run as one of the top sprinters in the country during 2016. He began the swim year last December by breaking the NAG for 17-18 boys in the 100y free, as a 17-year-old, at 2015 Winter Juniors West (with 41.23). He also put up very impressive 100y back and 100y fly times at that meet.
Hoffer swam the 50/100m free, 100m back, and 100m fly at Trials but didn’t achieve any LCM best times until Junior Pan Pacs, where he gave Team USA a bronze medal in the 50m free, won the B final of the 100m free, and contributed the lead-off split to the USA’s gold-medal winning 400 free relay.
Hoffer closed out the year with a stellar performance at Winter Juniors West. He won the 50 free with a new meet record (18.71). He won the 100 free and the 100 back. He came within 1/100 of his own meet record while winning the 100 fly. And he was a major factor in all five of Scottsdale’s national title-winning relays.
With another half-year to improve his standings, Hoffer owns the following all-time performances for 17-18 boys: 50y free (#2), 100y free (#1), 200y free (#35), 100y back (#4), 100y fly (#4), 50m free (#12), 100m free (#13), 100m back (#90), and 100m fly (#11).
Sean Grieshop – Nitro Swimming, Austin, Texas
Grieshop cranked out a slew of best times during 2016, including in the 200y fly, 100/200/1500m free, 100m back, 200m fly, and 400m IM. His 400m IM, a 4:14.00 that earned him fifth place at 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials, broke the Junior World Record and ranks him fourth on the all-time list for 17-18 boys. Two months later he won the event while representing Team USA at Junior Pan Pacs. Grieshop also wore the Red, White, and Blue with the National Junior Team at FINA/airweave Swimming World Cup 2016 in October, before winding up the year with a national title in the 400y IM at Winter Nationals in December.
Grieshop still has another 10 months in the 17-18 age group to do more damage, but he already owns the #8 time in history for 17-18 boys in the 500y free, #5 in the 1000 and the 1650, #71 in the 200y IM, and #14 in the 400y IM. He has also signed the 45th 200m free, 53rd 400m free, 29th 1500m free, 16th 200m IM, and 4th 400m IM.
Cameron Craig – Club Wolverine (MI): Craig began 2016 with a stellar ending to his high school career; the Monroe High School senior took down three Michigan all-class state records (200 IM, 100 free and 100 back) in prelims at the 2016 MHSAA Division 1 Boys’ Swim & Dive Championships, then came back to lower his new marks in the 200 IM and 100 back in finals with 1:45.42 and 47.33, respectively.
Craig rode the wave into long course season, where after competing at U.S. Olympic Trials in the 100m free, 100m back, and 100m fly, he represented Team USA at Junior Pan Pacs in August. There, he earned silver medals in the 100m free, 100m back, and 100m fly while notching personal bests in each event. Craig is currently ranked #7 all-time among 17-18 boys in the 100m free, #6 in the 100m back and #7 in the 100m fly. He is also #35 in the 100y free, #14 in the 200y free, #45 in the 100y back, #56 in the 100y fly, and #31 in the 200y IM.
Grant Shoults – Mission Viejo Nadadores (CA): Shoults was only 18 for the first half of the year, but in that time period he casually broke two national high school records in the 200y free and 500y free. In a year where the Nadadores were essentially focused on long course meters and the upcoming U.S. Olympic Trials, Shoults swam unshaved and unrested at CIF-SS Division I Championships in May, just to see what he had in the tank. He and Northern California’s Maxime Rooney (Pleasanton Seahawks) were the fastest 200 freestylers in the country, and both proved it that day. Rooney struck first, going 1:33.70 at CIF-CCS Championships, to eclipse Tom Shield’s 2009 mark of 1:33.83. But his tenure at the top was short-lived, as Shoults went 1:33.26 a couple of hours later to take over as national record-holder. Shoults then attacked the 500, going 4:12.87 and beating Jack Conger’s 2013 national record by 1.0 seconds.