2019 U.S. Junior Nationals: Six Stars from Day 4 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:

Emma Weber – 200 breast – 2:29.90

15-year-old Emma Weber of University of Denver Hilltoppers bounced back from a second-place finish in the 100 breast to win the 200 breast with a PB of 2:29.90. Seeded 11th with 2:34.02, Weber qualified second for finals going 2:33.36. In finals she blew away the field, finishing first in 2:29.90, easily clearing the Olympic Trials cut and lowering her new PB by another 3.4 seconds. Last year she placed fourteenth in this event at Speedo Junior Nationals with a time of 2:36.56. Weber now ranks 26th in the 15-16 age group historical rankings for the 200 breast.

Dylan Rhee – 200 breast – 2:13.54

Asphalt Green’s Dylan Rhee won the 200 breast in 2:13.54, just off his PB of 2:13.45 from U.S. Nationals last week but well under the qualifying standard for 2020 Olympic Trials. The 2:13.45 ranks him fourteenth on the all-time list for 17-18 boys. Last year at this meet he placed sixth with 2:16.80. Rhee also competed in the 100 breast on Tuesday placing 18th with 1:03.44, his second-best lifetime performance. He is only .15 away from a Trials cut in the 100.

Kennedy Noble – 100 back – 1:01.25

15-year-old Kennedy Noble of YMCA Silver Fins upset top-seeded Alexandra Crisera, defending champion in the 100 back, to claim the junior national title on Friday evening. Noble came into the meet seeded fourth with 1:01.80. She qualified fourth for finals with 1:01.89, then blasted a 1:01.25 at night for the win. Noble was runner-up in the 200 back on Wednesday, going 2:13.06 to secure a Trials cut and lower her PB by 1.57 seconds. With her 100 back win on Friday, Noble jumps to 22nd all-time for 15-16 girls, with a year left in the age group. She also ranks 51st for the 200 back.

Rising Stars:

Hayden Zheng – 200 breast – 2:16.28

16-year-old Hayden Zheng from Aquajets snagged his first Olympic Trials cut in the 200 breast with a fifth-place finish in finals. His time of 2:16.28 was a PB by just over two seconds and it cleared the OT standard by 1.6 seconds. Zheng also placed fifth in the 100 breast on Tuesday, punching his ticket to Omaha in that event, too. He now ranks 9th in the 100 breast and 20th in the 200 breast on the all-time list for 15-16 boys.

Gigi Johnson – 200 breast – 2:30.69

Gigi Johnson, 15, of SwimAtlanta swam an impressive couple of 200 breast races on Friday. She took a second off her entry time of 2:35.70 in morning heats to go 2:34.78 and move from 29th seed on the psych sheet to grabbing lane 8 for the A final. From there, she nearly took home the gold medal but wound up in second place behind Emma Weber. Overall, Johnson dropped 5 seconds and finished with a new PB of 2:30.69, which vaults her to the number 36 spot on the all-time list for 15-16 girls.

Reilly Tiltmann – 100 back – 1:01.94

16-year-old Reilly Tiltmann of Elmbrook Swim Club punched her ticket to Omaha on Friday, twice swimming under the Olympic Trials standard in the 100 back. Entered with the 21st-seeded time of 1:02.93, she cleared the mark by .02 in prelims with 1:02.67 to qualify eighth for finals. Later that evening she dropped another .7 for a total improvement of .99 and a fourth-place finish. Tiltmann also finished tenth in the 100 free and ninth in the 100 fly. Her 100 back time moves her to 45th in the 15-16 age group.


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Miss M
2 years ago

Does anyone else find the hand placement in that cover photo disturbing? Breaststroke has changed so much!

Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Go Gigi! 😎

Texas Tap Water
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 years ago

Bobo, any explanation why French swimmers deteriorated so rapidly? Is it medicines?

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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