2018 Honorees: Leah Hayes and Dean Jones
Leah Hayes – Fox Valley Park District Riptides (Aurora, Illinois)
2018 was a big year for Hayes, who swims under coach Nancy Hooper with the Fox Valley Park District Riptides in suburban Chicago. No stranger to breaking National Age Group Records (she went on an 8-day record-breaking streak in 2016, taking down 5 long course records in the 10-and-under age category), Hayes added two more to her resume this year: the 100-yard breast and the 400-yard IM. She then proceeded to collect an impressive number of qualifying times for national-level meets and ended the year on the cover of Sports Illustrated Kids, having been named the 2018 Sports Illustrated SportsKid of the Year.
Hayes earned her first Winter Juniors cut in February at not quite 12-and-a-half years old while swimming at ISI Winter Regional Meet hosted by FOX at Neuqua Valley High School. There, she knocked 12 seconds off her seed time in the 400y IM to go 4:20.65. From there, the floodgates opened and she added the 50/100/200 free, 100/200 breast, and 200 IM to her list of eligible events. In March at the 2018 Illinois Swimming Age Group Championships, she broke the 11-12 NAG in the 100 breast with 1:02.63, improving her prior PB by nearly 3.5 seconds and taking down a national mark that had stood at 1:02.86 since 2010. In July she broke her second 11-12 NAG, swimming the 400 IM at the Elgin Summer Regional Championships. This time she slipped under the old mark of 4:20.04, set by Jenny Forster in 2001, by a mere 1/100.
Hayes aged out of the 11/12s in mid-October with 20 all-time top-100 performances. They include LCM 50 free (15th), 100 free (3rd), 200 free (4th), 400 free (14th), 800 free (64th), 50 breast (8th), 100 breast (27th), 200 breast (27th), 200 IM (2nd), and 400 IM (2nd), as well as SCY 50 free (24th), 100 free (7th), 200 free (2nd), 500 free (8th), 50 breast (22nd), 100 breast (1st), 200 breast (35th), 100 IM (16th), 200 IM (5th), 400 IM (1st).
After aging up in this fall, Hayes competed at Winter Juniors West and went best times in the 100 free, 200 free, and 200 IM. She already ranks 8th all-time in the 13-14 girls’ 200y IM and 47th in the 200 free.
Maggie Wanezek – Elmbrook Swim Club (Brookfield, WI): Wanezek, who swims for coach Mike Rose at Elmbrook Swim Club, was a dominant force in backstroke for the 11/12 age group in 2018. She broke the National Age Group Record in the 50m back in July at the Wisconsin 12 & Under Long Course State Championships. Wanezek became the youngest girl ever to break the 30-second barrier in the event, and she did it twice in one day. She led off the 200 medley relay with 29.97 and she won the individual event in 29.36. That time was nearly a second faster (.80 to be exact) than the previous mark, set by Keaton Blovad in 2011.
Wanezek left the 11/12 age group ranked #1 for the year in the 50m free and 50/100/200m back. She was 2nd in the 50/100y back and 5th in the 200y back. Like Hayes, she earned her first national-level qualifying times as a 12-year-old.
Wanezek wrapped up 2018 at Winter Juniors West, where she competed in the 50/100 free and 100/200 back. She finaled in the 100 back (23rd place) and improved her best times in all four events.
- Katie Grimes – Sandpipers Of Nevada (Las Vegas, Nevada): Grimes was the top-performing distance freestyler in the age group, finishing the year ranked #1 in the 1000/1650y free and 1500m free. She was 2nd in the 500y free, 800y free, 400y IM, and 400m IM; 3rd in the 200/400m free and 200m back; 5th in the 100m back and 200m IM; and 7th in the 200y free. She ranked #1 in IMX scores among 12-year-old girls for the 2018 LCM season, and is currently #2 for the 2018-19 SCY season.
Dean Jones – Magnolia Aquatic Club (Magnolia, Texas)
Magnolia Aquatic Club’s Jones (who is also listed as Gary Jones in meet results) etched his name in the national record books not once, but twice, in 2018. Swimming at the Texas Age Group Championships in Austin this summer, he shaved 2.8 seconds off his seed time to win the 200-meter butterfly with 2:11.07, taking a nearly-8/10 bite out of Dare Rose’s 2015 mark in the event. Jones went on to win the High Point Award at TAGS.
Jones had a repeat performance in December in the SCY version of the same event. Competing at the Gulf Age Group Championships in College Station, he notched a 1:55.39 to win the 200y fly, one of 7 events in which he emerged victorious during the meet. Jones’ 200 fly time was the first sub-1:56 for an 11-12 boy in history; he took .66 off Winn Aung’s mark of 1:56.05 that had stood since 2015.
Throughout the course of 2018, Jones graced national top-10 lists 16 times. He finished with the #1 times in the 100/200/500y free, 100/200y fly, 200m free, and 100/200m fly; he was #2 in the 400y IM and 400m free; #3 in the 100y back; #4 in the 200y back; #5 in the 200m back; #6 in the 100m free and 100m back; and #9 in the 200y IM.
Jones will leave the 11/12 age group with the following all-time rankings: SCY 100 free (10th), 200 free (7th), 500 free (6th), 100 back (12th), 200 back (24th), 100 fly (5th), 200 fly (1st), 200 IM (73rd), and 400 IM (26th); also LCM 100 free (55th), 200 free (10th), 400 free (23rd), 100 back (40th), 200 back (18th), 100 fly (4th), 200 fly (1st).
Michael Mullen – Nation’s Capital Swim Club (Potomac Valley): Mullen was a steady performer throughout 2018, notching 14 top-ten swims for the year. He was the top-ranked 12-year-old in IMX scores for the 2018 long-course season and he etched his name in the record book as part of the NCAP 200m medley relay quartet that broke the National Age Group Record for 11-12 boys with 2:00.65 at the 2018 Potomac Valley Swimming Long Course Age Group Championships. Mullen also set new PVS Resident and Open Records, as well as the NCAP 11-12 Team Record in the 50m fly. He finished the year ranked #1 in the 1000y free, #2 in the 200m fly and 200m IM; #3 in the 400y IM; #5 in the 50/200m free and 400m IM; #6 in the 50m fly; #7 in the 200m fly; #8 in the 500y free, 100y back, and 100m fly; and #9 in the 400m free. He ranks 7th all-time in the 200m fly and 200m IM and 9th in the 1000y free.
- Jerry Chu – Santa Clara Swim Club (Santa Clara, CA): Chu topped the charts in the 200y breast and 100/200y IM in 2018, thanks to an outstanding meet at Far Westerns in April. He also wound up 2nd in the 50y free, 3rd in the 100y breast and 200m breast, 4th in the 50y breast and 50y fly, and 5th in the 100y free. Other top-10 finishes included the 50/100m breast, 50m fly, and 200m IM. All said, he finished in the top-10 in 13 events.
- Jeremy Kelly – Nitro Swimming (Cedar Park, Texas): Kelly also wrapped up 2018 with 13 top-ten rankings. He was the 2nd-fastest 11/12 swimmer in the 50/100m free and 50/100m back; #3 in the 50y free, 200y breast, and 200m free; and #4 in the 100y back and 200m back. Other top-10 finishes include the 100y free, 50y back, 100y breast, and 100y IM.
- Jarrett Payne – Springfield Family YMCA (Springfield, Ohio): Payne currently tops the charts in the IMX rankings for 12-year-old boys in the 2018-19 SCY season to date. He finished 2nd among 11-year-olds for the 2017-18 SCY season. Payne has the fastest 50/100y free, 100y back, and 50y fly for the year. He was 2nd in the 200y IM; 3rd in the 100y IM; 4th in the 50m fly; and 5th in the 100y fly and 100m free. Rounding out his 12 top-10 swims: 200y free, 50m free, and 100m back.
- Max Hatcher – North Texas Nadadores (Southlake, Texas): Hatcher was one of the most consistent performers in distance free in the age group. He had the top 1650y free and 400/800m free swims among 11/12s and ranked #2 in the 500/1000y free and 1500m free; #4 in the 200m IM; #6 in the 200/400y IM and 200m free; #8 in the 200y free; and #10 in the 100m free.