2019 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 11-12

To see all of our 2019 Swammy Awards, click here.

2019 Honorees: Teagan O’Dell and Thomas Heilman

11-12 Girls

Teagan O’Dell – Chino Hills Aquatics (Chino Hills, California)

O’Dell, who swims for Chino Hills Aquatics in Southern California where her mother Marni is a coach, dominated the 11-12 age group throughout 2019. She began the year representing Southern California Swimming at the annual 14-under  Pacific Coast All-Star Meet where she won the 50 back (27.15), 50 breast (meet record 30.39), 100 breast (1:06.38), 100 IM (58.27), and 200 IM (meet record 2:06.41). She almost broke Ella Eastin’s meet records in the 50 back and 100 IM and Heidi Poppe‘s in the 100 breast meet. She also swam on all four of SCS’s relays, three of which won, and two of which set new meet records. She won the High Points award for the girls and was second in the overall point standings.

O’Dell finished the year racing at Winter Juniors West a couple of months after her 13th birthday in the 100/200 back, 100/200 breast, and 200 IM. She placed 9th in the 200 back and 200 IM, 12th in the 100 back, and 19th in the 200 breast and she earned PBs in all but the 100 breast.

In between, O’Dell broke Missy Franklin’s National Age Group Record in the 200m IM in August at 2019 Western Zone Age Group Championships in Gresham, Oregon. O’Dell went 2:18.69 to become the first 11-12 girl to break 2:19 in the event (Franklin had set the mark at 2:19.12 in 2008). O’Dell took home the High Points award, scoring 117 out of a possible 120 points.

200 IM LCM 2:18.69 8/7/2019

O’Dell finished the year with the #1 IMX score for 12-year-old girls in the 2019 LCM season and the 2018-19 SCY season. She was the top performer in the 100y IM, 50/100m free, 100/200m back, 50m breast, and 200m IM. She finished #2 in the 200y back, 200/400y IM and 400m IM; #3 in the 50y free, 50y breast, 100y fly, 50m back, and 100m breast; #4 in the 100y free and 50/100y back; #5 in the 200m breast; #7 inn the 100y breast and 50m fly; #8 in the 200y breast and 100m fly; and #10 in the 200y free and 200m free.

While still 12, she qualified for Summer Juniors in the 100 back and 200 IM and for Winter Juniors in the 200 back. She left the 11-12 age group on the all-time top-100 lists for the 50/100y free, 50/100/200 back, 50/100/200 breast, 50/100y fly, and 100/200/400 IM as well as the 50/100m free, 50/100/200m back, 50/100/200m breast, 50/100m fly, and 200/400m IM.


Erika Pelaez – Eagle Aquatics (Miami Shores, FL): Pelaez was the 3rd 12-year-old in IMX rankings for the 2018-19 SCY season and the #2 12-year-old for the LCM season. Since September, she is the top-ranked 13-year-old in SCY. Pelaez qualified for Winter Juniors before turning 13 (in the 200 back) and left the 11-12 age group ranked #1 for the year in the 50/100y free, 200 back, 200/400m free, and 50m back; #2 in the 200y free, 50m free, 200m back and 100m fly; #3 in the 500y free, 50/100y back, 100m free, and 100m back; #4 in the 200y IM; #8 in the 400y IM; #9 in the 800m free; and #10 in the 100y fly.

Pelaez wrapped up 2019 winning the Florida High School 1A state titles in the 50 free and 100 free as a 13-year-old 7th grader.

Levenia Sim – TNT Swimming (Daphne, AL): Sim broke the National Age Group Record in the 50y backstroke at the Water World Classic in Dothan, Alabama in June. She scored the most Power Points in the age group for that swim, garnering 1065 points with her 25.65 (which took down Reagan Smith’s record by .04).

50 back SCY 25.65 6/1/19

Sim finished the year with eight top-10 swims for 11-12s. She was #1 in the 50y back and 50m fly; #2 in the 100y fly and 100y IM; #3 in the 50y fly; #5 in the 50m back; and #6 in the 100m fly.

Honorable Mention

  • Claire Weinstein – Westchester Aquatic Club-MR: Weinstein was the #1 11-year-old in the 2018-19 SCY season and she is #1 among 12-year-olds thus far in the 2019-20 SCY season. She leads in the nation in 11-12 distance freestyle, having notched the top times in the 200/500/1000/1650y free and 1500m free for 2019. She ranks #2 in the 800m free; #3 in the 200/400m free; #4 in the 200m back; #5 in the 100m free; and #10 in the 100y free, 400y IM, and 200/400m IM.

11-12 Boys

Thomas Heilman – Piedmont Family YMCA/CYAC (Charlottesville, Virginia)

Heilman leveled a veritable assault on the 11-12 record books during 2019. In November he took down a National Age Group Record in the 100y butterfly at the CYAC November Invite. His 51.44 took a .41 bite out of Chas Morton’s 1984 mark of 51.85. Then in December, at the YOTA/Cap Classic, he broke five more NAGs: 50y free (21.50), 100y free (47.15), 200y free (1:44.28), 50y fly (22.87), and 200y fly (1:53.66). He erased previous marks of 21.78 (Vinny Marciano, 2014), 47.89 (Vinny Marciano, 2014), 1:45.43 (Winn Aung, 2015), 23.49 (Jarrett Payne, 2019), and 1:55.39 (Dean Jones, 2018)., respectively.

50 free SCY 21.50 12/6/2019
100 free SCY 47.15 12/7/2019
200 free SCY 1:44.28 12/5/2019
50 fly SCY 22.87 12/7/2019
100 fly SCY 51.44 11/2/2019
200 fly SCY 1:53.66 12/6/2019

Heilman had 16 top-ten swims for 2019, 10 of which were #1. His average placement was 1.9 and he averaged 1027 Power Points. In addition to his 6 NAGs, he had the number one 11-12 times in the 50/100m free and 50/100m fly. He was also ranked second in the 200m free and 200m fly; 4th in the 100/200/400y IM; and 5th in the 500y free. He was the top IMX point-getter among 11-year-old boys for the 2018-19 SCY season.

Still 12, Heilman already ranks 1st all-time in the 50/100/200y free and 50/100/200y fly. He is also 27th in the 500y free, 83rd in the 50y back, 12th in the 100y IM, 13th in the 200y IM, and 9th in the 400y IM. He finished LCM season ranked #2 all-time in the 50m free, #18 in the 100m free, #7 in the 200m free, #5 in the 50m fly, #4 in the 100m fly, and #5 in the 200m fly.


Richard Poplawski – Scarlet Aquatics (Summit, NJ)

Poplawski, who was still 12 for the first four months of the year, broke two National Age Group Records in the 200m and 400m IMs. First, at Indianapolis Sectionals in March, he went 4:42.54 in prelims to take down the 400m IM NAG mark of 4:45.09 previously set by Josh Zuchowski in 2017. Poplawski’s best time coming into the meet had been 5:00.24. Next, he erased another Zuchowski NAG with 2:13.59 in the 200m IM. Swimming at the 2019 Long Island Challenge, Poplawski took more than a second off Zuchowski’s 2017 NAG of 2:14.93.

200 IM LCM 2:13.59 4/26/2019
400 IM LCM 4:42.54 3/28/2019

Poplawski left the 11-12 age group ranked #1 for 2019 in the 200m breast, 200m fly, and 200/400m IM; #2 in the 1000y free, 400y IM, 200m back, and 100m fly; #3 in the 200y back; #4 in the 100/200y fly and 200m free; #5 in the 200y breast and 100/200y IM; #7 in the 500y free, 100y back, and 400m free; and #8 in the 200y free. He was the 2nd-ranked 12-year-old in IMX scores for 2018-19 SCY season. Poplawski tops the all-time lists in the 11-12 200/400m IM and is top-10 in the 200m back, 200m breast, 100m fly, and 200m fly. He appears on 11 top-100 lists in SCY, with his highest ranking being 7th in the 400y IM.

As a 13-year-old, Poplawski had the #1 IMX ranking for the 2019 LCM season; he is currently ranked #1 in the 2019-20 SCY season.

Mason Turner – Eastern Iowa Swim Federation (Cedar Rapids, IA)

Like Poplawski, Turner aged out of the 11-12s in May but before he left he made his mark. Swimming at the Far Westerns Short Course Championships, Turner broke the 11-12 boys 500 free National Age Group Record going 4:41.26, taking nearly 8 seconds off a 5-week-old PB of 4:49.14. His swim bettered the 2008 mark of 4:41.54 that had been set by Nick Silverthorn. Turner and Silverthorn are the only 11-12 boys ever to have cracked the 4:44 barrier.

500 free SCY 4:41.26 4/5/2019

Turner aged out of the 11-12s with 19 top-10 swims for the year. He was #1 in the 500/1000/1650 free and 200/400/800/1500m free; #3 in the 200y free, 200y fly, 200y IM, and 400m IM; #6 in the 200m back and 100m fly; #7 in the 400y IM; #8 in the 100m free; #9 in the 200m fly; and #10 in the 100y free, 100y fly, and 200m IM.

Honorable Mention

  • Jarrett Payne – Springfield Family YMCA-OH: Payne broke the NAG record in the 50y fly in a time trial at the Great Lakes Zone YMCA Championships. His 23.49 erased the 2014 NAG set by Vinny Marciano with 23.63; it stood for 8 months until Heilman broke it in December. Payne finished the 2018-19 SCY season at the top of the IMX charts for 14-year-olds. Although he turned on April 5th, he remained in the top-10 for the year in 12 events. He was #2 in the 50/100/200y free, 50y fly, and 100/200y IM; #3 in the 100y back, 100y fly, and 400y IM; #4 in the 50y back and 100y breast, and #6 in the 500y free.
50 fly SCY 23.49 3/17/19
  • Trevan Valena – Texas Ford Aquatics-NT: Valena was one of the most consistent 11-12 performers of the year, gracing the top-10 lists 16 times. He ranked 2nd in IMX scores in both the 2018-19 SCY season and the 2019 LCM season. He wrapped up 2019 with the #1 time in the 400y IM; #2 in the 500y free and 400m IM; #3 in the 200m back, 200m fly and 200m IM; #4 in the 200/1650y free, 400/1500m free, and 100m back; #5 in the 800m free; #7 in the 200y IM and 100m fly; #8 in the 200m free, and #10 in the 200m breast.

Past Winners

Year 11-12 Girl 11-12 Boy
2018 Leah Hayes Dean Jones
2017 Claire Tuggle Josh Zuchowski
2016 Meghan Lynch Ronald Dalmacio
2015 Chase Travis Winn Aung
2014 Alex Walsh Ethan Dang
2013 Grace Ariola Andrew Trepanier
2012 Cassidy Bayer Michael Andrew


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4 years ago

Do they do this for every age group?

Reply to  Heyhellohi
4 years ago

Yes, we will.

Bobo Gigi
4 years ago

Last month Erika Pelaez has won the Florida high school 1A state titles in the 50 free and 100 free as a 13-tear-old 7th grader. In 22.86 and 49.37. Pretty impressive.
Is it common in USA that middle school kids are allowed to swim in high school competitions?

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
4 years ago

Bobo – different states have different rules. In some, like Florida, they may. In others, like Texas, they may not. It’s not “uncommon,” but it’s also not “universal.”

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Braden Keith
4 years ago


Reply to  Bobo Gigi
4 years ago

In addition to Braden’s brief but correct reply, it also varies from school to school in a state where 7th graders are allowed to compete. Small schools would often welcome middle schoolers but large schools have minimum age/grade requirements to have manageable rosters.

Bobo Gigi
4 years ago


Reply to  Bobo Gigi
4 years ago

I live in Florida and used to be in that state class last year but moved. I believe she was in class 1A which is private schools and a lot of them are prep schools so you get athletes like Erika that do compete. Florida rules and private school rules are weird

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom 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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