2019 Honorees: Claire Curzan and Josh Zuchowski
Claire Curzan, TAC Titans (Cary, North Carolina)
Curzan set age group swimming on fire in 2019, breaking and re-breaking National Age Group Records from February until December. She began at the 2019 North Carolina High School 4A State Championships, where she knocked out a 51.60 to win the 100 fly by nearly 3.4 seconds. Not only did she take down the NCHSAA State Record and 4A State Record, but she erased Regan Smith’s 2016 13-14 NAG of 51.73. The Cardinal Gibbons High School sophomore will have three more chances to break Katie McLaughlin’s National Independent School Record of 51.51.
A week after high school season ended, Curzan broke the NAG Record in the 200y fly with 1:55.64 at North Carolina Age Group Championships. That swim took .03 off the NAG mark that her teammate Charlotte Hook had set in December 2018 and stood until Tess Howley broke it in March. She also contributed to three TAC relays that set NAG records: 200 free, 400 free, and 200 medley.
In March at Greensboro Sectionals, Curzan further lowered her 13-14 100 fly record to 50.64 and broke the National Age Group Record in the 100 free with 47.67. The previous 13-14 mark had been 47.94, set by Missy Franklin in 2010. Curzan also lowered her PB in the 50 free to 22.01 in Greensboro, missing Gretchen Walsh’s NAG by .01. She took another swipe at the 50 free mark a week later though, and this time she crushed it. Swimming at the 2019 ESSZ Age Group Championships in Atlanta, she became the first 13-14 girl in U.S. history to break 22 seconds with her 21.89 in the 50 free final.
Curzan added one more 13-14 NAG Record to her resume in April at Richmond Pro Swim Series, where she crushed the 100m fly mark by half a second with 59.00. The previous mark, set by Kendyl Stewart in 2009, was 59.51.
Curzan turned 15 on June 30th but at year-end, she was still the top 13-14 performer of the year in the SCY 50/100 free, 100 back, and 100 fly, and the LCM 50 free, 50/100 back, and 50/100 fly. She ranked 2nd in the 50/200y back, 200y fly, and 200m back; 3rd in the 200y free and 100m free; and 6th in the 200y IM.
Since moving into the 15-16 age group, Curzan has represented the United States at FINA Junior World Championships (where she earned four medals) and taken down two NAG Records for 15-16 girls: 50 free (21.77) and 100 fly (50.87).
Curzan left the 13-14s with all-time rankings of #1 in the 50/100y free, 100y fly, and 100m fly; #2 in the 100y back and 200y fly; #4 in the 50m free; #5 in the 100m back; #6 in the 200y back; #14 in the 100m free, 200y free, and 200m back; and #18 in the 200y IM.
Tess Howley, Long Island Aquatic Club (Garden City, NY)
Just when we thought we’d never see anyone faster than Curzan in 13-14 butterfly events, along came Howley to prove us all wrong. The ink had barely dried in the record books when she unleashed a 1:55.29 in the final of the women’s 200y fly at NCSA Spring Championship to take third place in the event and erase Curzan’s month-old NAG mark of 1:55.64.
Howley was one of the younger competitors at U.S. Nationals this summer but that didn’t stop her from finaling in the 100m fly and 200m fly. She stayed in Palo Alto for the second week to compete at Speedo Junior Nationals, and there she came in third in the 200 fly and 17th in the 100 fly, notching Olympic Trials cuts of 2:11.41 and 1:00.09 in the respective events.
Howley finished 2019 with the #1 times of the year in the 200y fly and 200m fly; #3 in the 100y fly and 100m fly; #4 in the 200y free; #5 in the 50y back; #6 in the 200m free; #7 in the 50y fly; #8 in the 200y back; #9 in the 100y free and 100y IM; and #10 in the 100m back. She ranks top-20 all-time in the 200y fly (#1), 100y fly (#9), 200m fly (#9), and 100m fly (#11).
In alphabetical order:
- Bella Sims – Sandpipers of Nevada-CA: Sims wrapped up 2019 as one of the top distance swimmers of the age group. She had tied for the top spot in IMX rankings for 13-year-old girls in the 2018-19 SCY season before turning 14 at the end of the spring. Over the summer she produced the top 13-14 time in the 800m free and was 2nd in the 400/1500m free. She was 3rd in the 400y IM and 200m free; 4th in the 200y fly and 200m IM; 5th in the 100m free; 7th in the 1650 free and 200y IM; 8th in the 500y free; 9th in the 200y free; and 10th in the 1000y free and 400m IM. Sims earned 2020 Olympic Team Trials cuts in the 400/800/1500m free and 200m IM. Sims has three top-20 all-time rankings for the age group: #7 in the 400m free, #8 in the 800m free, and #19 in the 200m IM.
- Claire Tuggle – Clovis Swim Club-CC: Tuggle was the fastest 13-14 girl in the 200/500/1000 free. At the end of the year she ranked #2 in the 200m free; #3 in the 100y free and 800mfree; #4 in the 400m free; #5 in the 200y IM; #6 in the 1500m free and 200m IM; and #9 in the 200m fly and 400m IM. Tuggle represented the U.S. at FINA Junior World Championships and finaled in the 200m free and 400m free. She is a 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifier in the 200/400/1500m free. Tuggle left the 13-14s with all-time rankings of #2 in the 200y free and 200m free; #3 in the 200m IM; #4 in the 400m free and 400m IM; #5 in the 500y free; #9 in the 100m free; #10 in the 1000y free; #11 in the 800m free; #16 in the 200y IM; and #18 in the 100y free. She already ranks top-5 all-time for 15-15 girls in the 200/400m free.
Josh Zuchowski, Flood Aquatics Swim Team (Jupiter, Florida)
Zuchowski was the only National Age Group Record-breaker in the boys’ 13-14 age category for 2019, which in and of itself would have justified this award. But he was also the most prolific top-10 performer with 14 swims making the lists. Zuchowski took down the first of his two NAGs in March at 2019 Spring Florida International Championship Meet, going 2:00.97 in the 200m back. He took 2 seconds off the previous NAG mark (2:02.78) set by Aaron Peirsol in 1998. A month later he broke the 100 back record at the Pro Swim Series in Richmond. There, he went 56.62 to lower his own personal best of 57.11 and break the NAG of 56.83 previously held by Michael Andrew.
Zuchowski earned his first 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials cut in the 200m back as a 14-year-old. After turning 15 he added the 100m back and 200m IM OT standards to his resume.
Although he was only 14 for the first four months of the year, he remained at the top of the 13-14 top-10 lists for 2019 in the 50/200y back, 100m back and 200m IM. Showing his versatility in a wide range of events, he also ranked #2 in the 100y back, 200y IM, and 50/200m back; #3 in the 400y IM; #4 in the 200y breast, 200y fly, and 50m fly; #5 in the 100y fly; and #10 in the 50y fly. He was the top IMX point-winner for 14-year-old boys in 2018-19 SCY season and ranked 2nd in LCM points.
Zuchowski finished top-10 for 13-14 boys on the all-time lists in the 100m back (#1), 200m back (#2), 100y back (#5), 200y back (#5), 400y IM (#6), and 200m IM (#10). He won both the 100 back and 200 IM at the Florida High School Class 1A Championships this fall and has already begun to climb the all-time lists for 15-16 boys in the 100/200y back, 200y IM, 100/200m back, and 200/400m IM.
Keaton Jones, Swim Neptune (Scottsdale, AZ)
Jones broke Zuchowski’s 200m backstroke NAG Record in October, taking another .69 off the 7-month-old mark with 2:00.28. It was his second time under the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials standard in the event, making him one of the few 14-year-old boys to earn a ticket to Omaha.
Jones was dominant in long axis stroke events and in the IM over the course of 2019. At 14, he won all his events at both the Arizona Age Group Short Course Championships (500/1000/1650 free, 100/200 back, and 400 IM) and the Arizona Age Group Long Course Championships (200/400/800/1500 free, 100/200 back, and 400 IM). He finished 1st for 2019 in the 200m back; #2 in the 100m back; #3 in the 200y back and 200y IM; #5 in the 400y IM; #6 I the 800m free and 200m IM; #7 in the 400m IM; #8 in the 100y IM and 400m free; and #9 in the 50m back.
He left the age group ranked top-20 all-time in the 200m back (#1), 100m back (#6), and 200y back (#11).
- Cooper Lucas, Lakeside Aquatic Club-NT: Lucas was still 13 through the first half of the year and wound up the 3rd-ranked 13-year-old for the 2018-19 SCY IMX season and the #2 13-year-old for the 2019 LCM season. He was #1 in the 13-14 age group this year in the 500/1000/1650 free and 200/400/800m free; #2 in the 400y IM and 1500m free; #4 in the 200/400m IM; #5 in the 200y fly; #6 in the 200m fly; and #7 in the 200y free. He placed 3rd in the 1000 free and 7th in the mile at Winter Juniors West as a 14-year-old. With 6 months left in the 13-14 age group during which time he can improve his positions, he already ranks 2nd all-time in the 500y free; 3rd in the 1650y free; 5th in the 800m free and 400y IM; 11th in the 200m free; 13th in the 1000y free; and 17th in the 400/1500m free.
|Year||13-14 Girl||13-14 Boy|
|2018||Charlotte Hook||Tona Zinn|
|2017||Gretchen Walsh||Dare Rose|
|2016||Regan Smith||Carson Foster|
|2015||Alex Walsh||Zach Hils|
|2014||Courtney Harnish||Michael Andrew|
|2013||Courtney Harnish||Michael Andrew|
|2012||Becca Mann||Maxime Rooney|