2019 U.S. Junior Nationals: Six Stars from Day 3 Finals

2019 USA Swimming Speedo Junior National Championships

This week at U.S. Junior Nationals, we’ll identify our six stars for each night of competition. Three will be our ‘Shining Stars’– swimmers who won an event, set a notable record, or had a significant stand-out swim. The next three are our ‘Rising Stars’– swimmers who are younger, or less well-known, who hit an impressive personal best, jumped up the age group rankings, or made themselves known with an interesting performance.

Shining Stars:

Jillian Cox – 400 Free – 4:13.24

14-year-old Jillian Cox of Austin Trinity Aquatic Club became the ninth-fastest swimmer in girls’ 13-14 history when she won the 400 free on Thursday. Cox came into the meet seeded fifth with 4:16.27 and proceeded to destroy her PB in finals. It was a tight race in the middle of the pool from beginning to end. Swimming in lane 5, Cox made her move at the 150 turn and took over the lead at the 200. She and Miranda Heckman battled for the lead, with Ellie Marquardt and Yulia Groysman right behind them. Heckman turned first at the 350 wall but Cox came home 1/10 faster to get the win by .03. She earned her second 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials cut, after the 800 free on Tuesday.

Jack Walker – 400 Free – 3:53.02

SwimMAC Carolina’s Jack Walker, 18, won a hard-fought battle in the final of the men’s 400 free against 800 free junior national champ James Plage. Walker, a University of Virginia commit, came into the meet as the top seed with an entry time of 3:53.43. After posting the second-fastest time of the morning, Walker controlled the final from lane 5, staying just a tick ahead of Plage for 300 meters. Walker held a lead of .88 heading into the final 50 meters but Plage, a NC State commit, came roaring home. Walker got the touch and won by .05. A year ago he finished 13th in this event with 3:58.79 at 2018 Summer Juniors. He now ranks 53rd all-time for the 17-18 age group.

Aiden Hayes – 100 Fly – 53.92

Aiden Hayes, 16, from Sooner Swim Club, earned the silver medal in the 100 fly with a lifetime-best 53.92. It was a best time by .06, just enough to move him up two spots to number 18 on the all-time list for 15-16 boys. Hayes also dropped time in the 200 fly on Tuesday. Seeded 18th with an entry time of 2:03.72, he went 2:01.20 in finals to place 18th. He missed the 2020 Olympic Trials cut in the 200 by .01, though. A year ago at 2018 Summer Juniors, Hayes went 55.77 in prelims to rank 34th in the 100 fly. He was 32nd in the 200 fly with 2:04.76.

Rising Stars:

Lucy Bell – 100 Fly – 59.05

15-year-old Lucy Bell from Fort Collins Area Swim Team lowered her lifetime best in winning gold in the women’s 100 fly. Seeded with 1:00.11 (although her PB was 59.90 from last week’s U.S. Nationals), she went 1:00.44 in prelims to claim lane 4 for the final. She then dropped a 59.05 at night, the only sub-minute performance of the meet. Her 59.05 was a lifetime best by .85 and moved her to the #13 spot in the age group, just .02 behind Dana Vollmer, the former World Record-holder in this event. Bell has another year to improve her standing on the all-time 15-16 list. She now owns 2020 Olympic Trials cuts in the 100 fly, 200 fly, and 400 IM.

Rye Ulett – 100 Fly – 1:00.37

Rye Ulett of Dynamo Swim Club clobbered her PB in the 100 fly, going 1.8 seconds faster than her entry time in the final. Seeded with a 1:02.16 for the 56th seed, Ulett snuck into the B final as the 16th qualifier out of heats with 1:01.43. In finals she knocked another 1.1 seconds off that new PB to land a 1:00.37. Ulett came within .07 of winning the B final and she easily cleared the 2020 Olympic Trials standard of 1:00.69. Ulett’s swim moves her to #15 on the all-time list for 13-14 girls, one spot ahead of Katie McLaughlin. Tristen Ulett, now 17, ranks 20th on that list with 1:00.54. The older Ulett was runner-up in the 100 fly on Thursday night, touching in a PB of 1:00.03 behind only Lucy Bell.

Hana Shimizu-Bowers – 400 Free – 4:17.44

14-yer-old Hana Shimizu-Bowers of Long Island Aquatic Club has made remarkable strides in the 400 free over the last twelve months. Her best time at the end of last year’s long-course season was 4:31.78, which she achieved at 2018 Metro Junior Olympics. She kicked off this season with 4:30.90 in May and has proceeded to whittle it down, little by little to the 4:17.44 that accompanied her fifth-place finish on Thursday night. Another .55 drop and she’ll hit the 2020 Olympic Trials standard.


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Swim swam: kudos for featuring time drops as well as winners!

Also, whoever you’ve got taking pictures should be complimented. Both the action pics here and in your magazine.


I also love highlighting the rising stars. The time drops mentioned are incredible. Important to give other swimmers positive articles and have them imagine the same can happen for them with hard work!


Agree to disagree – Why clutter up an article which should highlight the winners???

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

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