2023 U.S. Trials: Day 1 Distance Session Live Recap


In between Day 1 prelims and finals, we’ve got a timed finals distance session. The session features the slower heats of both the women’s 800 free and men’s 1500 free.

That means that if you’re here to see Katie Ledecky or Bobby Finke, you’ll have to wait until finals. But you should stick around anyway, because we’re in for some fast racing. One of the top swimmers to watch is teenager Luka Mijatovic. He’s been breaking 13-14 distance free NAGs left and right this season. Today, he’ll take a crack at the oldest NAG record on the books, which is the boys’ 13-14 1500 freestyle NAG held by Jesse Vassallo at 15:31.03 since 1976.



  • World Record: 8:04.79, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2016
  • American Record: 8:04.79, Katie Ledecky — 2016
  • U.S. Open Record: 8:06.86, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2016
  • Championship Record: 8:09.27, Katie Ledecky (USA) — 2022
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 8:37.90
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 8:17.52
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 8:19.00

(Provisional) Top 8:

  1. Rachel Stege (ABSC) — 8:32.71
  2. Abby McCulloh (SA) — 8:36.06
  3. Chase Travis (WOLF) — 8:36.72
  4. Paige McKenna (WISC) — 8:37.20
  5. Emma Hastings (WOLF) — 8:38.87
  6. Aly Breslin (TNAQ) — 8:39.47
  7. Jillian Barczyk (COLA) — 8:39.89
  8. Aurora Roghair (ALTO) — 8:40.09

Rachel Stege, this year’s SEC 500 free champion, posted the top time of the distance session in the women’s 800 free. The Georgia Bulldog touched in 8:32.71, a new personal best for her. The swim cuts 5.71 seconds off her best time, which had stood since 2019.

She was well ahead of the rest of the field–her Georgia teammate Abby McCulloh holds second in 8:36.06. McCulloh’s time is a PB as well, and marks her first time sub-8:40. She’d just set her best at 8:42.10 in March at the Speedo Atlanta Classic. Running third is Chase Travis, just ahead of Wisconsin’s Paige McKennawho took almost a second off her best.

Through three heats, the top time belongs to Jillian Barczyk, who won heat three in 8:39.89. That’s a 15.17 second drop for the Georgia Bulldog; her previous lifetime best stood at 8:55.06 from 2019. Longhorn teammates Abby Pfeifer and Olivia McMurray went 2-3 in the same heat, stopping the clock at 8:45.08 and 8:45.19. It’s a personal best for Pfiefer, bettering the 8:57.32 she swam at last year’s Mission Viejo Pro Swim.


  • World Record: 14:31.02, Sun Yang (CHN) — 2012
  • American Record: 14:36.70, Bobby Finke — 2022
  • U.S. Open Record: 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (USA) — 2008
  • Championship Record: 14:45.54, Peter Vanderkaay (USA) — 2008
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut: 15:04.64
  • 2022 U.S. Trials Top 2 Time: 14:51.78
  • 2022 Worlds Medal Time: 14:36.94

(Provisional) Top 8:

  1. Levi Sandidge (KYA) — 15:09.75
  2. Luke Ellis (SAND) — 15:17.92
  3. Nathan Szobota (NOVA) — 15:18.13
  4. Mason Edmund (OSU) — 15:18.80
  5. Elijah Shoyat (CLPR) — 15:18.87
  6. Owen Lloyd (WOLF) — 15:21.60
  7. Luke Whitlock (FASTIN) — 15:22.69
  8. Jake Narvid (TNAQ) — 15:23.58

Levi Sanddige, fresh off his first season at Kentucky, easily logged the fastest time so far in the men’s 1500 freestyle. Sandidge, dropped more than 18 seconds in his 1650-yard freestyle this season. He saw a similar drop here in meters, cutting 20.29 seconds off his personal best with a 15:09.75. His previous best stood at 15:30.04 from the Indy Spring Cup earlier this spring.

He finished well ahead of the Sandpipers’ Luke Ellis, who’s running second with a 15:17.92. Ellis also bettered a lifetime best swum earlier this year, going from 15:29.67 at the Fran Crippen Invite to 15:17.92 here in Indianapolis.

Heat 2 of the men’s 1500 free saw two separate races. The first was for the heat win between Mason Edmund and Nathan Szobota. The second was Luka Mijatovic against the clock, as he tried to crack the boys 13-14 NAG of 15:31.03, which has stood since 1976.

In the latter, Mijatovic fell just short, but still clocked a massive personal best of 15:32.18. That makes him the second fastest boy all-time in the age group. It also marks a 15 second drop for the teenager.

In the former, it looked like the heat was Edmund’s to win, but the 15-year-old Szobota began to close the gap over the final 500 meters. With 75 meters to go, the two were stroke for stroke, and Szobota pulled ahead in the final few meters to take the heat win, 15:18.13 to 15:18.80. Those stood up as the third and fourth fastest times of the session.

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11 months ago

more great swims from the dawgs

11 months ago

Woah 15:32.18! Only 1.15 seconds away from Vasallo’s NAG record in the 46 years of this record being here, this is the closest anyone has come to the record since it was set. Luka just turned 14 and has all of this season and part of next year to break it and potentially even lower the mark far down. Great swims so far.

11 months ago

When is lukas birthday?

Reply to  KSW
11 months ago

May I believe. He just turned 14.

Dead meme 47366
Reply to  KSW
11 months ago

April 21st

Boat fan
11 months ago

Nathan szobota is the coolest person I know

Reply to  Boat fan
11 months ago

Wicked kick at the end.

11 months ago


11 months ago

Luka falls a second short of the nag 😭. Junior Nats watch out.

11 months ago


Reply to  Caleb
11 months ago

Though he did just drop 15 seconds. Not bad.

Reply to  Cougarswim
11 months ago

not bad at all. Easy for me to say, but looks like he had the record in him, left too much in the tank. Live and learn. He could drop another 10 by the end of summer.

11 months ago

Did we just see Jillian Barczyk drop 15 seconds in the 800? That was amazing.

Reply to  Cougarswim
11 months ago

Go Dawgs

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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