2017 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 10 & Under

To see all of our 2017 Swammy Awards presented by TYR, click here. 

2017 Honorees: Erika Pelaez and Kaii Winkler

10 & Under Girls

Erika Pelaez – Miami Swimming, Miami, Florida

Pelaez, who swam for Miami Swimming as a 10-and-under (and through the summer of 2017 before moving to Eagle Aquatics after she’d already turned 11), left the age group with 18 top-ten swims. Even though she only swam as a 10-year-old through the end of June, she still finished 2017 with four #1 LCM swims: 100/200/400m free and 100m back and the #1 IMX score for 10-year-old girls in the long course season, with 4720 points. Her other top-ten LCM swims were in the 50 back (#2), 200 IM (#2), 100 fly (#3), 50 free (#4), and 50 fly (#8).

More impressive than the fact that she remained at the top of the LCM charts with nearly 2 months left in the season, Pelaez also finished the SCY season with the #2 IMX score, even though she only competed in 5 meets during the first four months of the year. She aged out of the 10-and-unders with the #2 time in the 100y back, #3 in the 100/200/500y free, 50y back, and 200y IM, #4 in the 50y fly, #5 in the 50y free, and #6 in the 100y fly.


Lia Wiyanto – Irvine Novaquatics (Irvine, California)

Wiyanto had an outstanding 2017, finishing the year with 13 appearances on the top-ten lists. She was the top 9-year-old in IMX rankings for the 2016-17 short course season, and she leads the field for 10-year-olds so far in the 2017-18 SCY season. She finished the 2017 LCM season with the #2 IMX score for 10-year-olds.

As one might expect from her top IMX performances, Wiyanto was one of the fastest swimmers in every event. She led the nation in the 100m fly, was second in the 100y fly, and finished third in the 50y fly, 100y IM and 200m IM. She was also fourth in the 100y breast and 100m breast, 5th in the 50/100m back and 200y IM, and 7th in the 100/200m free and 50y breast.

Jada Duncan – Rocklin Mavericks (Rocklin, California)

Duncan was consistently one of the top 10-year-olds in the country this year, gracing the top-ten lists a total of 13 times. In IMX scores, she ranked 17th for 9-year-olds in the 2016-17 SCY season and 18th for 10-year-olds in the 2017 LCM season; she is the #2 10-year-old so far in the 2017-18 SCY season.

Duncan finished the year with the #1 time in the 50m fly and the #2 time in both the 50y free and 50y fly. She was 4th in the 100y fly and 100m fly, 5th in the 100m free, 6th in the 100y free, 7th in the 100y IM, 8th in the 50m free, 200/500y free, and 100y back, and 9th in the 200y IM.

Honorable Mention

In alphabetical order:

  • Amelia Chen – NOVA of Virginia (VA): Chen was 10 through the first 8 months of 2017, and garnered 11 top-10 performances, mainly in free and back. She finished the year with the #2 swims in the 100m free and 100m back, #5 in 200/400m free and 100y IM, #6 in 50m free, 200y free, 100y back, and 200m IM, #7 in the 100y free, and #9 in the 50y back. Chen was ranked 4th in the 2017 IMX long course season and 7th in the 2016-17 short course season.
  • Kyra Cui – Quicksilver Swimming (CA): Cui was the age group’s top breaststroker and one of its strongest IMers, notching the fastest swims in the 50/100y breast and 100y IM, and the second-fastest 50/100m breast and 200y IM. She also had top-ten swims in the 200m IM, 50y fly, and 100y back. Cui finished LCM season with the #13 IMX score. She was 32nd in the 2016-17 SCY season.
  • Emma Redman – The Fish (VA): Redman spent only the first half of the year in the 10-and-under age category, but it was enough to earn the #3 spot on the SCY IMX rankings for the 2016-17 season and the #11 spot for the LCM season. She wrapped up 2017 with the second-fastest 100y IM time, the third 100y breast, and the fourth 500y free, 50/100y back and 50y breast. Redman also finished in the top-10 in the 200y IM, 50m breast, and 50y free.

10 & Under Boys

Kaii Winkler – Miami Swimming, Miami, Florida

Winkler, while 10 for only the first three months of the year, was a major National Age Group record-breaker in the 10-and-under age group during 2017. He first took down the 200 yard freestyle record in February, going 1:57.75 and taking a 0.19 chunk out of the 1:57.94 mark that had belonged to Mitch Stoehr since 2003. A couple of weeks later at the FGC Area 3 Developmental Championships in Pembroke Pines, Winkler etched his name on the 500 free record with 5:08.77, improving on Ivan Puskovitch’s 2012 NAG of 5:14.14. Two weeks later at FG Junior Olympics he lowered his 200 free record to 1:56.41 and dropped a 59.37 in the 100 fly, improving his own personal best by nearly 2 seconds.

Short Course NAGs:

200y free – 1:57.75 – 2/17/2017
200y free – 1:56.41 – 3/17/2017
500y free – 5:08.77 – 3/3/2017
100y fly – 59.37 – 3/16/2017

Winkler aged out of the 10-and-unders on March 27th with the #1 times in the 200/500y free, and 100y fly, the #2 50y fly and 200y IM, #3 100y free, and #6 50y free. He also had the top-ranked IMX score for the 2016-17 short course season.


Trevan Valena – Texas Ford Aquatics (Frisco, Texas)

Valena broke the oldest National Age Group record on the boys’ side of the record books in December. Swimming at the TXLA Jingle Bell Splash in Austin, he took a big half-second bite out of Chas Morton’s 1982 mark of 2:12.29 in the 200 IM, going 2:11.79 to win both the 10-and-unders and the 11-12s at the meet.

Short Course NAGs:

200y IM – 2:11.79 – 12/20/2017

Valena ruled long course season this summer, turning in the #1 IMX score for 10-year-old boys, and notching the nation’s top times in the 100/200m free. He had 14 top-ten swims in all, including #2 in the 100/200/500y free, 400m free, 100/200y IM, and 200m IM; #3 in the 100m back and 100y fly, #4 in the 100y back, #5 in the 50m back, and #7 in the 50y fly.

Richard Poplawski – Seahawks Swim Team (Clifton, New Jersey)

Poplawski was only 10 for 1/3 of the year but he remained unsurpassed in six events through to the end: 50/100y breast, 50/100m back, 50m fly, and 200m IM. All in all, he made the top-ten list 17 times in 2017. He was second-fastest in the 50/100y back and 100m fly, third in the 50y free and 100/200y IM, fourth in the 50m breast, fifth in the 50m free, 100m breast, and 50y fly, and sixth in the 100y fly.

Poplawski set 7 New Jersey state records between two meets in March 2017. At “The Other Meet” held at Rutgers, he set new marks in the 100 back, 100 breast, and 100 fly; at NJ State JOs he downed the 100 back, 50/100 fly, and 100 IM records.

Honorable Mention

  • Thomas Heilman – Piedmont Family YMCA/CYAC (VA): Heilman proved to be one of the top free/flyers in the age group. He closed out 2017 as #1 in the 50/100y free, #2 in the 50m free and 100y fly, #3 in the 100m free and 50y fly, #4 in the 200y free and 100m fly, #5 in the 200y IM, #7 in the 50y back, and #9 in the 200m free and 50m fly. He is currently ranked #2 in IMX scores for the 2017-18 SCY season and was 9th this summer in LCM season.


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Is this US 10&U or any 10&U swimmer?

Dan – our age group awards focus on American swimmers.


Seems a bit much to have such an award for 10&U

Steve Nolan

I’ve got picks for “Best Zygote” if anyone wants to check out my weblog.


Boomer wins best 3& under

David Berkoff

Lochte might have something to say about that!

Coach MDL

is a SOTY for kids this young a good thing?

Human Ambition

This would be a media scandal in Sweden. 12 and under are not allowed to compete. Soccer teams that age don’t have league table. There are different viewpoints on this topic though and it is discussed.


Do 12&U not compete at all or is it that they do not have a national championship meet/ranking?
USA Swimming removed all official national and historic rankings (including all time top 100) for 10&U to avoid to much pressure from parents and coaches. The only thing they did not remove was the NAG records for 10&U, maybe they should have done that too?

Human Ambition

(Without taking stance), the reasons are more than one. As for soccer – they are still counting goals but are not awarding trophys. The federation looked at research and concluded that following was no good: 1) Focusing on early developed kids instead of developing all. 2) Focusing on the wrong skills instead of teaching what is needed for making a good adult player. 3) The parental culture was now and then horrible. Parents manners is passed forward to the kids. As for swimming – most European countries are using calendar years for putting the kids in a race. The US system of birthday is phenomenal in that way not losing the December kids to the same extent. The youngest Federation… Read more »

das swimmer

That’s dumb. Less than one percent will play soccer as an adult. Why not let the good 12 year olds enjoy those years and compete for wins?


Come on now; good competitors should be recognized for great swims no matter what age.

Human Ambition

The thesis is that they get recognized not for great swims but simply because they are more developed than their competitors. Lots of research on this topic.

Swim dad

Agreed. Parents of AAAA kids at 10 , extrapolate early success to full rides at Stanford, then switch coaches , scream at kids, etc , when their kids run into the genetic wall. I know one of the kids named (and their parents) and they say “only matters when they’re 17,” but have watched plenty of others not be so balanced.


Swim Dad, it is balanced in theory only. It easy for the parent to say that it “only matters when they’re 17” when the kids are 10 and 11 years old.

I am guessing that since you mentioned knowing one of the kids and their parents, and “switching coaches”, you meant to insinuate that the child you know regularly switches coaches?

Human Ambition

Still a Federation also is responsible for creating a good environment to make as many swimmers (or other athletes in other federations) as good as possible. Sarah Sjöström and Caeleb Dressel is born in August. How many European top swimmers do we know that is born in December? I bet far less than a 12th of the total.


Yes, but is birthday system not perfect. It may fix Dec birthdays but still messes with others.
My kid has early March birthday and she’s up right before she group champs. Shecwoukd have been more advataged by calendar system. Ugh.

Juan E. Pelaez

Responding to “HUMAN AMBITION” “(Without taking stance), the reasons are more than one. As for soccer – they are still counting goals but are not awarding trophies. The federation looked at research and concluded that following was no good:” “1) Focusing on early developed kids instead of developing all.” In every society there are gifted individuals that are natural at performing a physical activity (in our case; swimming). What is wrong with implementing a fun professionally competitively monitored athletic program to develop a young athlete? Chess players usually are recognize and began development are a very young age. Perhaps you may consider “Age/skill professional monitored development program, tailored to an individual, as a platform for an age-group competitive swimming program.”… Read more »

Human Ambition

Very interesting. Thank you for an insightful comment.

I know too little about these stats, but if for example 65% of all college scholarships is awarded to January to June kids or more than half of the top-10 NAG kids fail to reach college, the system can be better.

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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