2019 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 15-16

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

2019 Honorees: Torri Huske and Josh Matheny

Torri Huske – Arlington Aquatic Club (Arlington, Virginia)

Huske had a big year in 2019, beginning with high school season when she won the 200 IM (1:58.13, breaking Cassidy Bayer’s regional record) and 100 free (50.04, breaking Hannah Baker’s regional record) at the Northern Virginia 6A Regional Championships. Ten days later she broke the National Public School Record and the overall high school record in the 100 fly with 51.29 at the Virginia 6A State Meet. A month later at NCSA Spring Championship, she earned titles in the 100 IM (54.20), 100 free (48.70), 200 free (1:46.66), 50 fly (22.96), and 50 free (22.36) and placed 4th in the 200 fly (1:56.18) and 200 IM (1:58.70). After being DQ’ed in the prelims of the 100 fly, she swam the event in time trials and notched a 51.86, which would have won the championship final.

Huske competed at Phillips 66 Nationals and took 4th in the 100 fly, 10th in the 100 free, and 11th in the 50 free. In the 100 fly she clocked a 57.80 to break a 38-year-old 15-16 National Age Group Record of 57.93, set by Mary T. Meagher in 1981. Huske’s performances qualified her to swim the 50/100 fly and 100 free individually at the 2019 World Junior Championships in Budapest. There, she Won gold medals in the 50m fly, 100m fly, women’s 400m free relay, women’s 400 medley relay, and mixed 400m medley relay. She contributed to World Junior Records in two of the relays. She also picked up a silver medal in the 100m free final.

Huske lowered her NAG Record in the 100m fly to 57.71 at World Juniors, then again to 57.48 at 2019 U.S. Open in her last swim as a 16-year-old. On the day before her 17th birthday, she won her first U.S. Open title, breaking the U.S. Open meet record of 57.53. Her winning time of 57.48 was also under the 17-18 NAG mark, set by Katie McLaughlin in 2015 with 57.87. Huske thus became the fastest 18-and-under performer in history, and she still has two more years as a junior.

100 fly LCM 57.80 8/2/19
100 fly LCM 57.71 8/25/2019
100 fly LCM 57.48 12/6/2019

Huske was 16 for the first 11 months of the year. Before she aged out of the 15-16s, she swam the #1 time for the year in the 100y IM and 50/100m fly; #2 in the 50/100y fly, 100m free, and 200m IM; #3 in the 50y free; #4 in the 40m free; #5 in the 100y free; #7 in the 200y IM; #8 in the 200y fly; and #9 in the 200m free.

She was the #1 18-and-under girl in the world in the 50m fly, #2 in the 100m fly, #5 in the 100m free, #5 in the 200m IM, and #15 in the 50m free.

Huske left the 15-16s ranked #1 all-time in the 100m fly; #3 in the 50y free and 100y fly; #4 in the 100m free; #7 in the 200m IM; #16 in the 50m free; and #21 in the 100y free. She is qualified to compete at 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials in the 50/100/200m free, 100/200m fly, and 200m IM.


Phoebe Bacon – Nation’s Capital Swim Club (Damascus, MD)

The highly versatile Bacon got 2019 off to a good start with wins in the 100 breast (1:01.46) and 200 IM (1:57.31) while representing Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart at Washington Metros. A month later at NCSA Spring Championship, she won the 50 back (24.38), was runner-up in the 100 back (51.58), 200 back (1:50.71), 100 fly (52.33), 100 IM (54.34), and 200 IM (1:57.62), placed 3rd in the 50 fly (23.74), and took 9th in the 50 breast (28.11) and the 100 breast (1:01.80).

Bacon won the 100 back at 2019 Pan Am Games in 59.47, and was a member of Team USA’s gold medal women’s 400 medley relay team (with Annie Lazor, Kendyl Stewart and Margo Geer), setting a Games record with her 59.02 split.

She wrapped up 2019 at U.S. Open where she upset World Record-holder Regan Smith and World Championships medalist Olivia Smoliga by touching 1st in a time of 58.63, breaking the 59 second barrier for the first time.

Bacon finished the year ranked 2nd in the world among 18-and -under girls in the 200m back, 5th in the 50m back, 5th in the 200m back, and 23rd in the 200m IM. In the U.S., she was 1st in the 50y back and 50/100m back; 2nd in the 200y back and 100y IM; 3rd in the 100y back, 50y breast, 50y fly, and 200m back; 5th in the 200y IM and 200m IM; and 7th in the 100y fly. She ranks top-25 all-time in the age group in the 100y back (2nd) and 100m back (2nd), 200y back (4th), 200m back (7th), 100y fly (16th), and 200y IM (21st).

Gretchen Walsh – Nashville Aquatic Club (Nashville, TN)

Walsh began 2019 by crushing the Tennessee High School Records in the 100 back (51.57) and 100 fly (52.36) at the TISCA State Championships. She also swam relay splits of 21.19 free on the end of the Harpeth Hall medley relay and 21.43 on the 200 free relay. Next, she took down three NAG Records at the Southern Premier Meet. First, she contributed to Nashville Aquatic Club’s NAG record in the 200 medley relay, splitting 21.25 on the anchor. She then tied her 15-16 NAG in the 50 free by going 21.82. Lastly, she downed the 15-16 100 free NAG, previously held by Simone Manuel, with 47.49, slicing .24 off the old mark of 47.73.

Swimming at U.S. Nationals, Wash punched her ticket to World Junior Championships in Budapest with 2nd-place finishes in both the 50 free (24.85) and 100 free (54.13). She also placed 9th in the 100 back (1:00.26) and 13th in the 100 fly (58.84). At World Juniors she won both the 50 free and 100 free with new personal bests of 24.71 and 53.74, respectively. Her 50 free time established a new National Age Group Record for 15-16 girls. The old mark of 24.80 had belonged to Simone Manuel since 2013. Walsh also contributed to four gold medal winning relays for the U.S.: women’s 400 free, women’s 400 medley, mixed 400 free, and mixed 400 medley.

Walsh finished 2019 ranked #1 in the world for 18-and-under girls in the 50 free, #4 in the 100 free, #11 in the 100 back, and #11 in the 100 fly. Back home, she was 1st among 15-16 girls in the 100y free and 50/100m free; #2 in the 50/200y free; #4 in the 100m fly; #5 in the 100y back and 100m back; and #8 in the 100y fly, 200y IM, and 200m IM.

50 free SCY 21.82 3/1/2019
100 free SCY 47.49 3/2/2019
50 free LCM 24.71 8/25/2019

Honorable Mention

  • Claire Curzan, TAC Titans-NC: It didn’t take long for Curzan to make her mark on the 15-16 age group after moving out of the 13-14s at the end of June. Swimming at U.S. Nationals, she finished 2nd in the 100 back (1:00.39) and 5th in the 100 fly (57.87) to qualify for World Junior Championships in both events as well as the 50 back and 50 fly. In Budapest, she earned a silver medal in the 100 back with a lifetime best time of 1:00.00. She also won bronze medals in the 50 fly (25.81) and 100 fly (58.37) and gold as part of the women’s 400 medley relay. Curzan wrapped up her year at Winter Juniors East, having sat out U.S. Open the week before due to illness. At the East meet, she won the 50 free, 100 free, 100 back, 100 fly, and 200 fly. She set 15-16 NAG Records in the 50 free (with 21.77) and 100 fly (with 50.87) and broke the meet record in the 100 fly.
50 free SCY 21.77 12/12/2019
100 fly SCY 50.87 12/13/2019

15-16 Boys

Josh Matheny – Team Pittsburgh Elite Aquatics (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)

Matheny, who had made a name for himself last December at Winter Juniors East with wins in the 100/200 breaststroke events, exploded into one of the best 18-and-under breaststrokers in the world in 2019.

Matheny kicked off 2019 at the Pennsylvania PIAA Boys 3A Swimming & Diving State Championships. The Upper Saint Clair High School sophomore won the 100 breast in a Pennsylvania State Record of 52.52, split a 24.10 breast on the winning medley relay, placed 4th in the 200 IM (1:49.00), and anchored the 6th-place 400 free relay (46.35).

Matheny competed at Phillips 66 Nationals and placed 3rd in the 200 breast, setting a National Age Group Record for 15-16 boys with 2:11.02. That swim took down the NAG set by Reece Whitley (who won the event in Palo Alto) in August 2015 with 2:11.30. Matheny also finished 12th in the 100 breast (1:00.91). These finishes qualified Matheny to swim the 50/100/200 breast individually at the 2019 FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest. There, he broke the 15-16 National Age Group Record in the 100m breast three times (in prelims, semis, and finals) and he lowered his own NAG in the 200m breast by 1.6 seconds. Matheny won gold for the U.S. in the 200m breast with a new NAG mark of 2:09.40; he earned the silver medal in the 100m breast with a NAG record of 1:00.17; and he placed 4th in the 50m breast with 27.96. Although one of the youngest swimmers at Junior Worlds, he finished 2019 ranked #2 in the world for 18-and-under boys in both the 100m breast and the 200m breast and #10 in the 50m breast.

200 breast LCM 2:11.02 8/1/2019
100 breast LCM 1:00.66 p 8/20/2019
100 breast LCM 1:00.32 s 8/20/2019
100 breast LCM 1:00.17 f 8/21/2019
200 breast LCM 2:09.40 8/23/2019

Matheny aged into the 17-18s in October but left the 15-16 age group ranked #1 all-time in the 100m breast and 200m breast; #4 in the 100y breast; and #5 in the 200y breast. Since turning 17, he won both the 100/200y breast events at Winter Juniors East. He notched the 5th-fastest time in 17-18 history in the 200y breast (1:52.12) and the 13th-fastest time in the 100y breast (52.56).


Aiden Hayes – Sooner Swim Club (Norman, Oklahoma)

Hayes stood out in an age group that was brimming with talent in 2019. He opened the year by winning the 50 free (20.09) and 100 back (47.28) at the Oklahoma High School Boys’ 6A State Championships. The Norman North High School sophomore set State Records in both the free and the back; the latter had belonged to David Plummer who went on to represent the U.S. at the 2016 Olympic Games. Hayes also led off the 200 medley relay in 21.36 and split 44.64 to anchor the Norman North 400 free relay at the state meet.

At Columbia Sectionals in March, just about everything he touched turned to gold. He won the 50 free, 50/100 back, and 50/100/200 fly. In May he competed at Pro Swim Series Bloomington and finaled in the 50 free, 50/100 back, and 50/100/200 fly with PBs in the 50m free (23.54), 100m free (52.79), and 100m back (57.18). Hayes earned PBs in the 50m back (26.34) and 50m fly (24.70) at Jenks Sectionals before going on to Speedo Junior Nationals and scoring lifetime bests in the 100m fly (53.92 for 2nd place) and 200m fly (2:01.20 for 18th).

Hayes wrapped up the year at Winter Juniors West where he won the 50 free, 100 back, and 200 fly, was runner-up in the 100 fly, and placed 4th in the 100 free. He left the meet with PBs in the 50 free (19.58), 100 free (44.01), 100 back (46.31), 100 breast (59.27), and 50 fly (21.56), 100 fly (46.01), and 200 fly (1:41.34). Hayes surpassed Michael Phelps’ one-time National Age Group Record with his 200 fly; he now sits at #2 in the all-time 15-16 rankings behind Luca Urlando.

Hayes was in the 2019 class at National Select Camp this fall. While only 16 for the second half of the year, he topped the charts for the 15-16s for the year in the 100/200y fly. He was 2nd in the 50y free, 50/100y back, and 100m fly; #3 in the 50y fly and 50m fly; #5 in the 100y free; #7 in the 50m back; and #8 in the 200m fly.

With another 5 months to go before he ages up, Hayes ranks top-25 all-time for 15-16 boys in the 200y fly (#2), 200y fly (#2), 50y free (#4), 100y back (#5), 100m fly (#18), and 100y free (#24).

Luca Urlando – DART Swimming (Davis, CA)

Before moving into the 17-18 age group in March, Urlando unleashed a series of times in the first couple of months that remained at the top of the rankings for the rest of 2019. To begin with, he broke Carson Foster’s National Age Group Record in the 200m free with 1:47.73 at College Station Sectionals. He had the year’s #1 15-16 swims in the 200y back, 200m free, 100/200m fly, and 200m IM; #2 in the 100/200y fly, 200y IM, 100m free, and 50m fly; and #3 100y back.

Urlando left the 15-16s with all-time rankings of #1 in the 200m free and 100/200y fly; #2 in the 100y back, 100/200m fly, and 200y IM; #4 in the 200y free and 200m IM; #5 in the 100m free and 200y back; #20 in the 50y free and 400y IM; and #21 in the 200m back.

200 free LCM 1:47.73 2/28/2019

Honorable Mention

(alphabetical order)

  • Jack Alexy, Somerset Hills YMCA-NJ: Alexy proved to be one of the top free/back specialists in the age group for the year. He finished #1 in the 100/200y free and 100m free; #2 in the 50m free; #5 in the 50y back; #6 in the 50y free and 50m back; and #10 in the 100y back. He won the 100y free at both YMCA Short Course Nationals and Winter Juniors East and he represented Team USA at FINA World Junior Championships.
  • Luke Barr, Sarpy County Swim Club-MW: Barr had the most top-10 swims in the 15-16 age group for 2019 and he made the grade in every stroke. He finished the year ranked #3 in the 50m breast; #4 in the 50y back, 100/200y IM, and 100m breast; #5 in the 50m back; #7 in the 100y freeand 50y breast; #8 in the 50m free; and #9 in the 50y free; 200y brest; 100y fly; and 100m back.
  • Matt Fallon, Somerset Valley YMCA-NJ: Fallon showed himself to be a top performer in breast/IM in 2019. He won both the 100 breast and 200 IM at the New Jersey High School Meet of Champions. At the YMCA Short Course National Championships he placed 1st in the 100/200 breast and 400 IM and was runner-up in the 200 IM. At Phillips 66 Nationals he finaled in the 200 breast and 400 IM and thus qualified for FINA World Junior Championships, where he competed in the 200 breast. He aged out of the 15-16s with the #1 times for the year in the 200y breast, 400y IM, and 400m IM; #2 in the 200m breast; #3 in the 1000 free; and #6 in the 100y breast.
  • Anthony Grimm, Mason Makos Swim Team-PV: Grimm excelled in backstroke and breaststroke throughout 2019. He broke the National Age Group Record in the 15-16 100y back with 45.60 at NCSA Spring Championship and finished the year as the top 15-16 boy in the 50/100y back, 50/100y breast, and 50y fly. He was #2 in the 100m back; and #4 in the 50y free and 100y fly. He won the 50 free at 2019 Virginia 4A High School Championships and the 100 back, 50/100 breast, and 50 fly at 2019 NCSA Spring Championship.
100 back SCY 45.60 3/22/2019

Past Winners

Year 15-16 Girl 15-16 Boy
2018 Regan Smith Gianluca Urlando
2017 Regan Smith Carson Foster
2016 Eva Merrell Drew Kibler
2015 Courtney Harnish Michael Andrew
2014 Katie Drabot Sean Grieshop
2013 Katie Ledecky Andrew Seliskar
2012 Katie Ledecky Caeleb Dressel



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2 years ago

I think Charlotte Hook merited an honorable mention. Particularly since there were 4 HMs for the boys which is perplexing given the incredibly high standard of age group quality for the girls. She went 2:07 in the LC 200 fly at Summer Nationals. The closest 15 or under in this event recently (that I’m aware of) is the Australian Dekkers who got a lot of notice recently when she went 2:08.

2 years ago

Damn. Passed up again. C’mon SwimSwam give me my respect!

2 years ago

What are the odds that it’s harder to make the team in women’s 100 back than it is to podium in women’s 100 back?

Reply to  Nate
2 years ago

We have more than three women who could make the Olympic final, that’s for sure.

Reply to  Nate
2 years ago

Low. This rarely happens anymore. For this to be true, essentially the 3rd place finisher at Worlds would have to be faster than the defending World Champion Kylie Masse. Kylie Masse is really, really good.

Reply to  Braden Keith
2 years ago

Low sure, but I think a combo of smith and bacon/Smoliga/Baker/ could potentially put making the team at a low low low 58(if not a 57) which I think could potentially be faster than masse’s time.

Reply to  Carlos
2 years ago

It’s like you’re agreeing with me, and then you use the word “but” as though you’re disagreeing with me…so we agree that the chances are low, right?

2 years ago

Fun fact: Josh Matheny broke Brendan Hansen’s 100 breast state record at PIAA champs

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

I also think that Justina Kozan deserved an honorable mention.
At 15, she:
– won the 200 fly (2.09.68), the 200 free (1.59.48) and the 200 IM (2.12.74) at US junior nationals in August.
– won at world juniors the 200 IM in a great 2.11.55 (becoming the 4th fastest ever 15/16 US girl) and played a huge role in the US win in the 4X200 free relay with a great split of 1.58.09.
– won at winter junior nationals West the 400 IM in 4.05.57 (now 7th fastest 15/16 US girl ever), later in the same day the 200 free in 1.45.15 and on the last day the 200 fly in 1.54.75.
Her signature… Read more »

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

agreed 100% _ huge potential for Kozan & a few other juniors . Usa swimming is in good hands for the near future .

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Amazing talents here. Especially on the women’s side. If they are not eaten by the pressure at trials these girls can make the team for Tokyo.
Torri Huske is the next US female star in the 100 fly.
Phoebe Bacon is coming and is full of confidence after her huge race in Atlanta.
Gretchen Walsh was dominant at World Juniors and has an unlimited potential in the 50 free/100 free.

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Huske and Walsh certainly look on course to qualify for olympics. Don’t know about Bacon yet as there are far too many great backstrokers in the USA to conclusively say who will qualify for the olympics.

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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