2018 Speedo Junior Nationals: Day 4 Finals Live Recap


The fourth of five finals sessions from the 2018 Speedo Junior Nationals will feature the 200 freestyle, 200 breaststroke and 100 backstroke, along with timed final heats in the women’s 800 free relay.

14-year-old Claire Tuggle (2:01.44) will seek her third title of the meet tonight in the women’s 200 freestyle, coming in as the 2nd seed to Miranda Heckman (2:01.30) of the Pleasanton Seahawks after the prelims. Tuggle swam a lifetime best last week in 1:58.59, and has a shot at Sippy Woodhead‘s 13-14 NAG of 1:58.53.

Alexei Sancov leads the men’s 200 free field after being the only one sub-1:50 in the heats (1:49.55), and Isabelle Odgers (2:30.66) and AJ Pouch (2:13.08) will have lane 4 in the women’s and men’s 200 breast. Annabel Crush (1:01.38) and Will Grant (55.78) come in as top seeds in the 100 back, while Carson Foster (56.22) will seek his first individual title of the meet in the men’s event as the #2 seed.

Women’s 200 Free Final

  • Junior World: 1:56.12, Shen Duo (CHN), 2014
  • Meet: 1:58.26, Lia Neal, 2011
  1. Erin Gemmell, NCAP, 2:00.74
  2. Miranda Heckman, PLS, 2:00.77
  3. Claire Tuggle, CLOV, 2:00.80

13-year-old Erin Gemmell from Nation’s Capital really went for it in the women’s 200 free final, posting the fastest splits in the field on the first two 50s in 27.82 and 30.31. Claire Tuggle made up a bit of ground on the third 50, and then a huge push on the last length by Miranda Heckman made it a three-way battle to the wall.

At the touch it was Gemmell, barely hanging on for the win in 2:00.74, just over Heckman (2:00.77) and Tuggle (2:00.80). Gemmell swam the 3rd fastest time ever by a 13-year-old American this morning in 2:01.50, and now moves past Sippy Woodhead (2:01.08) for 2nd behind only Tuggle (1:59.11). She also moves into 9th all-time in the 13-14 age group.

16-year-old Samantha Pearson won the B-final in 2:00.63, knocking over two seconds off her prelim swim and sneaking under her personal best from Nationals. That time ended up stacking up as the fastest of the night.

15-year-old Olivia McMurray (2:01.90) and 14-year-old Ella Bathurst (2:02.33) both made impressive drops from the C-final. Bathurst is now just over a second outside the top-10 all-time in the 13-14 age group.

Men’s 200 Free Final

  • Junior World: 1:46.40, Ivan Girev (RUS), 2017
  • Meet: 1:48.64, Caeleb Dressel, 2013
  1. Alexei Sancov, TERA, 1:47.75
  2. Julian Hill, GSC, 1:49.29
  3. Skyler Cook-Weeks, MLA, 1:50.95

Pierce Dietze went out like a madman in the men’s 200 free, flipping at the 50 and 100 walls with splits of 24.43 and 51.78. Top seed coming in Alexei Sancov wasn’t far behind, turning in 52.50, and unlike Dietze, was able to maintain his speed over the back-half to win easily in 1:47.75. That broke Caeleb Dressel‘s 2013 Meet Record of 1:48.64, and is his 2nd fastest performance ever (going 1:47.00 at last year’s European Juniors).

Julian Hill of the Gator Swim Club was the only other guy sub-1:50 in 1:49.29, knocking off his previous best by a second and a half, and Skyler Cook-Weeks had a solid back-half to snag 3rd in a best of 1:50.95. Jake Magahey, the 3rd fastest swimmer ever in 15-16 age group, was 4th in 1:51.04. Dietze ended up fading to 6th.

Jake Mitchell posted a 1:50.91 to win the B-final, putting him half a second outside of the top-10 in the 15-16 age group.

Women’s 200 Breast Final

  • Junior World: 2:19.64, Viktoria Gunes (TUR), 2015
  • Meet: 2:26.35, Allie Szekely, 2012
  1. Anna Keating, MACH, 2:28.44
  2. Isabelle Odgers, NOVA, 2:29.44
  3. Claire Donan, TS, 2:30.67

15-year-old Anna Keating of Machine Aquatics led the women’s 200 breast final wire-to-wire, maintaining a slight edge over Irvine Novaquatics’ Isabelle Odgers throughout to win in a time of 2:28.44. That lowers her previous best of 2:30.03 set at Nationals last week, and puts her 11th all-time in the 15-16 age group.

Odgers took 2nd in 2:29.44, .04 off her best from Nats, and Claire Donan (2:30.67) held off Noelle Peplowski (2:31.06) for 3rd.

16-year-old Brynn Curtis dropped over three seconds from her best time to win the B-final in 2:31.75, and 13-year-old Grace Rainey had an impressive 2:33.55 from the C-final, lowering her best time by a second and a half. Both had initially set their best times in the prelims.

Men’s 200 Breast Final

  • Junior World: 2:09.39, Qin Haiyang (CHN), 2017
  • Meet: 2:11.25, Daniel Roy, 2017
  1. AJ Pouch, TRA, 2:12.52
  2. Josh Matheny, PEAQ, 2:12.69
  3. Jake Foster, RAYS, 2:13.76

Taking over the lead on the second 50, AJ Pouch of Team Rebel looked to have the men’s 200 breast final under control, extending his lead through the 150. However, Josh Matheny of Pittsburgh Elite, who won the 100 breast, made a huge push on the last 50, closing in a scorching 33.95 to make up over a second on Pouch. He just ran out of room, with Pouch taking it in 2:12.52 to Matheny’s 2:12.69.

Pouch was 2:11.96 last week at Nationals, which has him 3rd all-time in the 17-18 age group, while Matheny’s swim moves him up to 3rd for the 15-16s after getting into 7th in the prelims. Coming into the meet with a best of 2:17.73, Matheny took off three seconds in the heats and then two more tonight for a massive five-second drop.

Jake Foster was right in the thick of it the entire way, being overtaken by Matheny on the final 50 to take 3rd in 2:13.76. Foster swam the two fastest times of his career at Senior Nationals with a pair of 2:13.2s.

Women’s 100 Back Final

  • Junior World: 58.83, Regan Smith (USA), 2018
  • Meet: 59.77, Rachel Bootsma, 2009
  1. Alexandra Crisera, CITI, 1:00.89
  2. Annabel Crush, LAK, 1:00.90
  3. Abby Kapeller, AQJT, 1:01.68

15-year-old Annabel Crush established the top time in the women’s 100 back this morning in 1:01.38, a new best time, and looked well on her way to claiming the Junior National title tonight as she led the field through the 50 in 29.36.

Alexandra Crisera, who came into the meet as the top seed, slowly but surely made up ground on Crush, and they entered the final few metres neck-and-neck. Crisera ended up getting her at the wall by .01, 1:00.89 to 1:00.90, as they both put up new lifetime bests. Crush, 15, now sits just two tenths outside the all-time top-10 in the 15-16 age group.

Abby Kapeller of the Aquajets cracked 1:02 for the first time to take 3rd in 1:01.68, and Kylee Alons snuck under her PB for 4th in 1:02.07.

Men’s 100 Back Final

  • Junior World: 52.97, Kliment Kolesnikov (RUS), 2018
  • Meet: 54.99, Michael Andrew, 2015
  1. Will Grant, HEAT, 55.02
  2. Carson Foster, RAYS, 55.54
  3. Keegan Walsh, SA, 56.28

Will Grant from Heart of Texas led Carson Foster by three tenths at the 50 turn, and then Foster took over the lead with a big breakout, but Grant answered. He upped the temp, reclaiming the lead and ultimately winning by half a second in 55.02. Prior to this morning’s heats he had never broken 57, and after dropping over a second from his best this morning (55.78) he knocks another seven-tenths off tonight. Grant missed Michael Andrew‘s 2015 Meet Record by just .03 and is now just a tenth outside the top-10 all-time in the 17-18 age group.

Foster took 2nd in 55.54, just off his 55.37 PB from Nationals, and SwimAtlanta’s Keegan Walsh claimed 3rd in a best of his own (56.28).

Women’s 4×200 Free Relay Timed Final

  • Junior World: 7:51.47, Canada, 2017
  • Meet: 8:10.13, York YMCA, 2013
  1. Brea Aquatics, 8:10.70
  2. Irvine Novaquatics, 8:14.77
  3. Clovis Swim Club, 8:15.31

Brea Aquatics and Irvine Novaquatics were in a tight race through the halfway mark of the fastest heat in the women’s 4×200 free relay, but 14-year-old Justina Kozan unleashed a 2:01.85 split on the third leg to give Brea a sizeable lead. Samantha Pearson, who won tonight’s 200 free B-final in a time faster than the actual winner, anchored them home in 2:01.93 as they won gold and narrowly missed the 2013 meet record (8:10.13) in a time of 8:10.70.

Irvine took 2nd in 8:14.77, with a strong lead-off from Ella Ristic (2:02.67) and anchor from Ayla Spitz (2:02.39). Claire Tuggle anchored Clovis in 2:00.47 to move them into 3rd (8:15.31), while the Northern KY Clippers won the first heat and end up 4th overall in 8:17.12. Their top leg came from Mariah Denigan (2:03.08), who swam third.

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bobo gigi
4 years ago

Hats off to Erin Gemmell for swimming a gutsy race in the 200 free final. She took the control from the start and went out fast unlike her main rivals. Big new PB for the 13-year-old from NCAP.
Claire Tuggle looked very flat but that’s really not a surprise. 2 weeks in a row of hard racing. No miracle. She’s human. If she underperforms at junior pan pacs then we’ll know why. If she swims best times there then it means that maybe she continues to train right now while racing to peak in Fiji and it would especially mean that she’s even more impressive that we thought. Answers in 3 weeks. Same remarks about Carson Foster and Mariah… Read more »

4 years ago

Pierce Dietze is the next Dean Farris

4 years ago

There are some seriously fast girls at this meet. A 2:00 from a 13 year old, a 2:28 200 breast from a 15 year old, and a 2:31 wins the B FINAL by a 16 year old

Ron Jardoskowitz
4 years ago

The JR pan Pac swimmers that are swimming in this meet are setting themselves up for failure. They need to back home training for this meet. Plus, what a huge financial burden to put on parents to spend 2 plus weeks in CA. USA swimming needs to not allow JR pan Pac swimmers to swim at Junior Nationals, or if you have Senior Nat cuts, you didn’t swim at Junior Nationals.

I’m sure their coaches are forcIng them to do this to pad their resumes and stroke their egos.

Reply to  Ron Jardoskowitz
4 years ago

It’s a good challenge for them and hopefully they will learn something through the process. Myself I would take the swimmer home to train to get ready but I still think you could make it a positive experience if you stayed.

Reply to  Ron Jardoskowitz
4 years ago

Most of the swimmers doing these back to back meets are doing it to prepare for long meets.

Reply to  Ron Jardoskowitz
4 years ago

Why are American coaches so terrified of racing? It’s like president Trump’s exercise routine. “You only have so many races in you, can’t use too many when you’re young!”

Don’t forget that they all started in summer league, where you swim 8 races a day, 3 days a week, all summer long.

Reply to  Ron Jardoskowitz
4 years ago

I’m pretty sure only Claire tuggle is doing all the meets. She’s 14 and I don’t think old enough to need to rest that much to make a huge difference. Probably is just awesome at peaking her for pan pacs to do this meet where she’s getting 10k a day with warm up cool down for both prelim and finals.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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