2019 Swammy Awards: Age Group Swimmer of the Year – 17-18

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

2019 Honorees: Regan Smith and Luca Urlando

17-18 Girls

Regan Smith – Riptide, Apple Valley, Minnesota

Lest we forget, Regan Smith is still an age group swimmer. And she was the only age grouper in the U.S. to break World Junior and World Records this year so it’s not surprising that she’s our pick for the Swammy. Smith was, in fact, just 17 for all of her record-breaking performances, having only ascended into the age group on February 9th. In March, swimming at Cary Sectionals, she knocked out National Age Group Records in the 100y back (twice) and the 200y back. On March 9, she improved her PB by nearly a second in the 100y back to notch a 49.74 and take .76 off the 17-18 NAG Record of 50.50, set by Amy Bilquist at 2016 Pac-12s. The next day, she broke the NAG Record and set a new American Record in the 200y back with 1:47.16. That beat Kathleen Baker‘s old AR mark of 1:47.30, set at the 2018 NCAA Women’s Championships. An hour later, Smith lowered her brand new 17-18 NAG in the 100 back to 49.66 leading off Riptide’s 400 medley relay. That, too, set an American Record, taking .01 off Beata Nelson’s 49.67 from the 2018 Texas Hall of Fame Invite.

At 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, Smith broke another set of NAG Records with the fastest 100m back and 200m back performances in history. First, she took down Missy Franklin’s 200m back World Record (2:04.06) in the semi-finals with 2:03.35, knocking .71 off both the WR and the 17-18 NAG. Then she led off the U.S. medley relay in 57.57 to erase Kathleen Baker’s WR of 58.00 from 2018 U.S. Nationals. Smith’s teammates Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, and Simone Manuel went on to finish the relay in 3:51.55 lowering by a second the previous World Record set by the USA in 2017.

100 back SCY 49.74 3/9/2019
100 back SCY 49.66 3/10/2019
200 back SCY 1:47.16 3/10/2019
100 back LCM 57.57 7/28/2019
200 back LCM 2:03.35 7/16/2019

With 13 more months left to swim in the 17-18 age group, Smith already ranks #1 in history in the 100/200y back and 100/200m back, #3 in the 100y fly and 100m fly; #4 in the 200m fly; #13 in the 200m free; #18 in the 100y free; and #23 in the 200y free.

In addition to owning the top 18-and-under times in the world for the 100/200m back, Smith ranked among the top-25 for 2019 in the 200/400m free, 50m back, and 50/100/200m fly.


Alex Walsh – Nashville Aquatic Club (Nashville, TN)

Walsh broke two individual National Age Group Records of her own in 2019, one in March and one in December. At the Southern Premier Invite at the University of Tennessee, Walsh downed a 6-year-old 17-18 NAG in the 200 breast, going 2:05.87 to erase Annie Zhu’s 2013 mark of 2:05.99 from the books. That same day Walsh was part of a 15-18 NAG in the 200 medley relay, where she led off with a 23.64 backstroke. Walsh bookended the 200 breast record with a 17-18 NAG in the 200m IM at U.S. Open in December. There, she shattered Elizabeth Pelton’s old record of 2:10.02, set in 2011, with 2:09.01 in the final.

While Walsh still has 7 months left in the 17-18s, she already is the fastest in age group history in the 200y breast and 200m IM. She ranks 5th in the 200y IM; 7th in the 100y back and 200m back; 8th in the 100y breast; 11th in the 100y fly; and 14th in the 100m back.

Walsh swam the #1 200m IM for 18-and-unders in 2019 and ranked among the world’s 25-fastest juniors in the 50/100/200m back.

Honorable Mention

  • Olivia Bray – Virginia Gators-VA: Bray became the fastest 17-18 age grouper in history when she cracked a 50.19 to win the 100y fly at the 2019 Virginia Swimming LSC Senior Short Course Championships. The previous mark of 51.02 had belonged to Annie Ochitwa since 2016. That was a PB by 1.3 seconds for Bray, and it moved her to the #8 performer of all-time in the event. Bray has four top-20 swims on the all-time list for the age group: 100y fly (#1); 100m fly (#2); 200y fly (#9); and 200m fly (#19). She will be 18 for another 11 months during which time she’ll have ample opportunity to improve her standings. Bray finished the year with top-25 worldwide standings in the 18-and-under 50/100/200 fly.
100 fly SCY 50.19 2/28/2019
  • Kate Douglass – Chelsea Piers Aquatic Club-CT: UVA freshman Douglass has had a standout year. She began by winning all her individual events at Ithaca Sectionals (50y free, 100y back, and 100y fly with PBs in the 100 back and 200 free). This summer she went lifetime bests in the 50/200m free, 100m back, and 100/200m breast; she then kicked off her college career with a slew of best times (50/100y free, 100/200y breast, 100y fly, and 200y IM) at UT Invite; and she ended the year with PBs in the 100m free, 100m fly, and 200m IM at U.S. Open. She finished the year with ten all-time top-25 rankings in the age group: 100y fly (2nd); 50y free (3rd); 200y IM (3rd); 200y breast (4th); 100m fly (5th); 100y free (10th); 50m free (12th); 200m IM (12th); 100m breast (16th); and 200m breast (23rd). She is also 26th in the 100y breast. Douglass still has another 10 months left to continue to rise in the rankings. Douglas was one of the 25 fastest 18-and-unders in the world in the 50m free, 100/200m breast, 100m fly, and 200m IM.

17-18 Boys

Luca Urlando – DART Swimming, Davis, California

Urlando didn’t waste any time after turning 17 on March 16th before starting to have an impact on the 17-18 age group. A month after logging PBs in the 50y free (19.88) and 100y free (43.23) and swimming the 18th-fastest 200y IM (1:43.87) in 17-18 history in California high school season, he kicked off long course season at the Mel Zajac Jr. International in Vancouver where he clocked a huge PB of 1:54.35 in the 200m fly. It was the fastest performance by an American so far that season. In fact, it was the fastest time done by an American since Michael Phelps’ gold medal swim at the 2016 Olympic Games. Urlando wasn’t finished, though. At TYR Pro Series Clovis, he took another half-second off his time in the 200m fly to break the boys 17-18 National Age Group Record with 1:53.84. That swim wiped out Michael Phelps’ legendary NAG of 1:53.93 from 2003 World Championships. Urlando became the third-fastest American in history behind Phelps (1:51.51 – WR) and Tyler Clary (1:53.64).

Urlando won his first LCM national title this summer with 1:54.92 in the 200m fly. He also placed 9th in the 200m free (1:46.51) and 8th in the 100 fly (52.31). He qualified to swim all three events at FINA World Junior Championships in Budapest. There, he took home individual golds in the 200 free (1:46.97) and 200 fly (1:55.02) and was on three WJR-breaking relays (men’s 4×100 free, mixed 4×100 free, and men’s 4×200 free). Urlando closed out the year at 2019 Toyota U.S. Open where he won the 200m fly with a meet record time of 1:55.60, took 5th in the 100m fly, and won the B final of the 400 free with a PB of 3:52.69.

Only 9 months into his tenure in the 17-18 age group, Urlando already ranks 1st all-time in the 200m fly, 2nd in the 100m fly, 3rd in the 200m free, 11th in the 100y fly and 200m IM, 18th In the 100m free and 200y IM, and 19th in the 100m free.

Worldwide, he was #1 in the 200m free and 200m fly; #6 in the 100m fly; #7 in the 200m IM; #17 in the 100m free; and #17 in the 50m fly.

200 fly LCM 1:53.84 6/14/2019


Carson Foster – Mason Manta Rays (Mason, OH)

Foster began 2019 by breaking the National Public High School Record in the 200y free at the Ohio State High School Division 1 Championships. His 1:32.99 was the first sub-1:33 in high school history and beat Trey Freeman’s old mark of 1:33.09 by .10. Foster vaulted to #3 all-time for 17-18 boys with his swim.

At 2019 National Championships, Foster placed 2nd in the 400 IM (4:13.39), 6th in the 200 back (1:58.26), 9th in the 200 IM (1:58.69), and 11th in the 200 free (1:47.53) and qualified to swim all four events at 2019 FINA World Junior Championships. He won gold in the 200m IM with a meet record of 1:58.46, the 2nd-fastest 17-18 performance by an American, behind only Michael Phelps’ 1:55.94 from 2003. Foster also took silver in the 200m back with 1:58.47, and won gold medals as part of the men’s 4×100 free relay and 4×200 free relay, both of which set World Junior Records.

With another 10 months left in the 17-18s, Foster already owns the #2 times in history for the 200m IM and 400y IM; #3 in the 200y free; #4 in the 200y IM and 400m IM; #5 in the 200y back; #6 in the 200m free; #11 in the 200m back; #12 in the 100m free; #16 in the 100y back; and #22 in the 200m fly. He wrapped up the year with the #1 time in the world for 18-and-under boys in the 200m IM. He was also #3 in the 400m IM, #5 in the 200m back, #7 in the 200m free, #12 in the 100m free, and #14 in the 200m fly.

Honorable Mention

  • Jake Magahey – Like Foster, Magahey kicked off the year with a National Public High School Record. Swimming at the Georgia 6-7A State Championships, he went 4:15.63 in the 500y free to break the oldest high school record in the books, a 4:16.39 that had been set by Jeff Kostoff in 1983. Magahey also won the 200y free (1:35.62) at the meet. At U.S. Nationals, Magahey finished 9th in the 400m free (3:50.70), 13th in the 200m free (1:48.81), and 25th in the 100m free (49.20). This qualified him to swim the 100/400 free individual events at the FINA World Junior Championships, as to be on the 4×200 free relay. In Budapest, Magahey contributed to two World Junior Records with his leadoff splits of 49.51 and 1:48.11 in the 4×100 and 4×200 freestyle relays, respectively. Magahey showed off his range at Winter Juniors East, winning the 500/1650 free, coming in 2nd in the 50 free, 100 free, and 400 IM, and touching 3rd in the 200 free. He is ranked top-25 all-time for 17-18 boys in the 500y free (3rd); 100m free (5th); 200y free (9th); 200m free (12th); 400m free (16th); and 100y free (23rd). He held the 7th-fastest 100m free time in the world among 18-and-under boys; was 12th in the 200m free; and was 13th in the 400m free.

Past Winners

Year 17-18 Girl 17-18 Boy
2018 Erica Sullivan Drew Kibler
2017 Olivia Carter Michael Andrew
2016 Katie Drabot Michael Andrew
2015 Katie Ledecky Andrew Seliskar
2014 Katie Ledecky Andrew Seliskar
2013 Missy Franklin Caeleb Dressel
2012 Missy Franklin Jack Conger


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4 years ago

Pretty sure Foster turned 18 in October ( approximately ). Therefore he can’t have 20 months left in the 17-18 age group

Not Tom Shields
4 years ago

Let’s just give a bit of time to thank Swimswam for all they do in the swimming community and giving us content like this!

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Not Tom Shields
4 years ago

A BIG thank you, always.

Coach Mike 1952
4 years ago

At the very end of the article, the hears in the grid say 15-16 not 17-18. Is that an errata?

Reply to  Coach Mike 1952
4 years ago

Yes, it’s clear considering the DOB of previous winners, beyond the obvious logical bound (the article is considering the 17-18 age category).

Coach Mike 1952
4 years ago

Well deserved awards Regan & Luca! Congratulations & may your lights contrinue to shine brightly.

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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