2018 Swammy Awards 17-18 Age Group Swimmers of the Year Erica Sullivan and Drew Kibler
Girls Winner: Erica Sullivan – Sandpipers of Nevada
From the pool to open water, Erica Sullivan had a stellar season in the 17-18 age group.
Sullivan finished as the top-ranked junior in the 800 and 1500 frees in long course and the 1000 and 1650 in short course. In fact, she was 5th among American swimmers of any age in the 1500 (16:02.88) and 800 (8:26.27) in long course. In short course, she had the 2nd-best 1000 free (9:17.32) in the nation behind only the great Katie Ledecky, and had the third-ranked 1650 free (15:36.52).
In 17-18 age group history, her long course 1500 ranks 4th all-time behind only the three previous world record-holders: Ledecky, Kate Ziegler and Janet Evans. Her 800 ranks 10th in age group history, and her short course 1000 and 1650 both rank 3rd all-time for 17-18s.
In addition, Sullivan finished third among all competitors of any age in the Olympic-distance 10K at the 2018 U.S. Open Water Nationals while winning the national 5K title. She qualified for the U.S. senior national team in the 800, 1500 and in open water, and would have made the 2019 World University Games team had she not declined the spot.
Dakota Luther – Unattached / University of Georgia
Luther finished the summer season as the top-ranked 17-18 in both the 100- and 200-meter butterfly races. Not only that, but she moved up to #4 all-time in the age group in both events. Her 58.58 in the 100 fly is just seven tenths off the National Age Group record in an age group where no individuals set NAG records in 2018. In the 200, Luther’s 2:08.09 is just over a second off the NAG, and came within a second of Mary T. Meagher’s historic 1982 swim that still ranks third in age group history.
Luther made the U.S. senior national team with the fourth-best 200 fly by an American swimmer of any age this year. Her long course 100 ranks 11th among Americans of any age during this calendar year.
Luther also qualified for the World University Games in two events and will represent Team USA there next summer at the senior level.
- Zoe Bartel, Fort Collins Area Swim Team / Stanford University: Another junior who qualified for the U.S. World University Games team, Bartel is also a senior national teamer based on her stellar 200 breast from U.S. Nationals. Bartel moved up to #3 all-time in the 17-18 age group with a 2:25.67 – she’s three tenths behind Amanda Beard for second and just over a second behind Lilly King’s NAG record. Bartel also had an outstanding short course season. She sits 4th all-time in both the 100- and 200-yard breaststroke for 17-18 age group history – just .25 off the 200 breast NAG and seven tenths behind the 100 breast NAG.
- Katharine Berkoff, Missoula Aquatic Club: Berkoff was one of the most productive U.S. juniors at Junior Pan Pacs, winning a silver and a bronze medal individually in the backstrokes. In a crazy strong field of American junior backstrokers at the moment, Berkoff sits 5th all-time in 17-18 age group history in the 100-meter back at 59.59, and her 2:09.84 is also 12th all-time in the 17-18 200 back. Her short course swims have been even more impressive: Berkoff is 3rd all-time in age group history with a 50.72 in the 100 back (two tenths off the NAG) and 5th all-time in age group history in the 200 back with a 1:50.16.
Boys Winner: Drew Kibler – Carmel Swim Club / University of Texas
Despite not setting a National Age Group (NAG) record, Drew Kibler showed remarkable range and versatility while powering Team USA at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships.
Kibler took home a meet-high four golds and one silver from those Junior Pan Pacs in Fiji. The 18-year-old broke the meet record in the 200 long course meter free (1:47.65), while winning the 100 free (49.42) and taking second in the 50 free (22.81). He had a key 49.33 split on the 4×100 free relay and an even bigger 1:48.30 split on the 4×200 free relay, both gold medal teams.
Kibler ranks #1 in the U.S. in the 17-18 age group this year in both the 100-yard and 100-meter freestyles, plus the 200-yard freestyle. He’s second in the 200 free long course and inside the top 10 nationally for the age group in 10 total events – six short course and four long course. He ranks 6th in 17-18 age group history in both the 100-yard and 200-meter freestyles, plus 2nd in history in the 200-yard free, 3rd in history in the 100-yard free and 4th in history in the 50-yard free.
Based on his outstanding U.S. Nationals performances (B final appearances at the senior level in the 100 and 200 frees, plus a junior D-final win in the 50 free), Kibler was one of just a handful of junior men to qualify for a U.S. travel team for the summer of 2019 – he’ll appear for the United States at the 2019 Pan American Games.
Daniel Roy – KING Aquatic Club / Stanford University
Though he doesn’t have the event range of Kibler, Daniel Roy had even more impressive results in his wheelhouse: the 200 breaststroke.
Roy broke the NAG record in the 200 meter breaststroke, becoming the first U.S. 17-18 boy to break 2:10. His 2:09.73 is more than a full second faster than anyone else in U.S. age group history. Roy also won three medals at Junior Pan Pacs, winning the 200 breast and taking second by just six tenths of a second in the 100 breast.
His long course 100 breast ranks 10th all-time in 17-18 age group history, and his short course 200 breast sits 3rd all-time, just two tenths off the NAG record in that course. Roy also made the U.S. National Team on the senior level and qualified to compete at World University Games next summer based on his sixth-place finish amongst a loaded senior-level field at U.S. Nationals in the 200 breast.
- Robert Finke, St. Petersburg Aquatics / University of Florida: Like Roy, Finke is a bit more pigeonholed event-wise, but dominated the events he swam. Finke finished 2nd in the 1500 free and 3rd in the 800 free at U.S. Nationals, the highest finishes of any junior man in the meet. Finke is a U.S. National Teamer at the senior level and qualified for World University Games in 2019 in both the 800 and 1500 frees. Finke was also one of just four boys to break a 17-18 NAG record individually in 2018, taking down the 1000-yard freestyle record. His long course 1500 ranks 2nd all-time in the 17-18 age group, and his long course 800 sits 3rd all-time. Both are the fastest swims by an American 17-18 since the mid-2000s.
- Jack LeVant, North Texas Nadadores / Stanford University: One of the breakout stars of U.S. Nationals, Jack LeVant was the only junior man to make the U.S. World Championships team for 2019. His 5th-place finish in the 200 free locked him into a relay spot next summer, and also put him on the senior National Team for the coming year. His 200-meter free (1:46.39) ranks 2nd all-time in 17-18 age group history behind only Michael Phelps. And his 1:55.89 200 fly is the third-best all-time for 17-18s, behind only Phelps and Bobby Bollier.