Psych Sheets are out for the 2015 NCSA Spring Junior National Championships that will run in Orlando, Florida from March 17th-21st, and this meet looks prepared to continue its lofty stature among short course meets with a big, and deep, field. This year’s meet will be run in short course yards in prelims and in long course meters in finals.
Below, we’ve picked out 5 story lines to keep a special eye on, but the reality is that every race at this meet is worth watching.
1. Men’s 200 Free
The seed times tell the story at the top. NCAP’s Andrew Seliskar (1:35.17), Nova of Virginia’s Townley Haas (1:35.19), and the Countryside YMCA’s Grant House (1:35.28) will hold center-lane in the three circle-seeded heats, and all three will be shooting to go under that 1:35 banner in prelims (in a junior meet). House, specifically, will shoot for Maxime Rooney’s 1:34.57 National Age Group Record.
This very well could be half of the American 800 free relay (prelims + finals group) in 2020 or 2024.
2. She’s Not Rowdy’s Daughter, but She’s Good
Rowdy Gaines is now a sort-of figure head of this meet as the vice president of aquatics for the YMCA of Central Florida – who is hosting the meet at the Orlando YMCA. Representing the Gaines name in the pool now will be 14-year old Riley Gaines (no relation). The Excel Aquatics (Tennessee) swimmer has six entries (50/100/200 free, 50/100/200 fly) and is the highest-seeded 14-year old in all of those races aside from the 50 free. Riley is more of a butterflier, as compared to Rowdy, who was famous as a freestyler – she’s seeded 13th in the 50 fly and 15th in the 100 fly with a 54.91.
3. Anything Andrew Seliskar Swims – Especially the 400 IM and 200 Breaststroke
The 200 free will be a fun battle for Andrew Seliskar, but the real tale of his meet will come in the 400 IM and 200 breaststroke. He broke National Age Group Records (and landed a spot among the top 10 in history) in both races at last weekend’s PVS Senior Champs, with a 3:37.52 in the 400 IM and a 1:51.57 in the 200 breaststrokes. If his post-meet interview is to be believed, he was only on four days’ worth of rest.
If he can get down below 3:36.26 in the 400 IM, then he’ll surpass Michael Phelps’ best-ever time in this event (at any age). 3:35.98 jumps Tyler Clary for 2nd all-time, and Chase Kalisz’s American Record is 3:34.50. In the 200 breaststroke, a 1:51.40 will move him into the top 10 swims of all-time, with Cody Miller’s 1:51.03 the closest reasonable target (2nd all-time).
He’ll be challenged by teammate Carsten Vissering in the breaststroke races for the last time in yards in short course before they become Pac-12 rivals next fall, with Vissering at USC and Seilskar at Cal.
Don’t sleep on Seliskar’s “off” races either, if they can be called that. A National Age Group Record is in the crosshairs in the 100 fly and 200 fly as well.
4. Aquajets Coming of Age
The Aquajets Swim Team in suburban Minneapolis has had a group of girls that have rolled through National Age Group relay records since they were 11-12’s five years ago, and now that group is hitting their junior and senior years of high school, amazingly has stayed largely intact, and is ready to really explode. The headliner of the group at present is Zoe Avestruz, a Minnesota commit, who could be reminiscent of what her former teammate Rachel Bootsma did at this meet before heading off to Cal. Avestruz enters the meet as the top seed in the 100 back by a full second (51.98), and is also highly seeded in the 200 back, 100 free, 100 fly, 50 fly, and 50 back. Bootsma’s team and 17-18 National Age Group Record of 50.54 is still far off, but Avestruz has a shot of joining the 50-second club.
5. Men’s 50 Free – Swimmers Seek to Join Jones Under 20 Seconds
The high school class of 2014 was rife with swimmers who had been faster than 20 seconds in the 50 yard free. The class of 2015 took a step back in that regard, with only one current high school senior having been faster than 20 (Notre Dame commit Tate Jackson, who did so at the American Short Course Championships in Austin last week).
The only swimmer at this year’s NCSA’s seeded at faster than 20 seconds is actually a junior, NCAP’s James Jones, and he’s the only one who went sub-20 at last year’s meet. There are at least a dozen, though, who have a shot at joining him next week. That includes his NCAP teammates Andrew Seliskar (20.06) and John Shebat (20.09), who are the #2 and #3 seeds and both high school seniors.
In total, 12 swimmers are seeded at better than 20.5 in this race, and that doesn’t include Tabahn Afrik, who was a 20.45 at Winter Juniors but didn’t update his entry time.