Age Group Titans Smith and Curzan Dazzle on Night 4 of Cary Sectionals


  • March 7-10, 2019
  • Triangle Aquatic Center, Raleigh, NC
  • SCY Format
  • Live Results

The final night of the Cary Sectional Champs offered no shortage of jaw-dropping moments, spearheaded by age group titans Regan Smith and Claire Curzan.

National Age Group records are exciting — we get to see what could be the making of a star, a burst of speed from a young swimmer who has gone faster than every legend of the past went when they were that age. Some NAG records are more exciting than others, depending on who broke whose record, what age group they’re in, the meet they were at, and so on and so forth.

The three NAG records (from this one night alone) definitely fall into the category of ‘very exciting.’ Smith, who has already proven herself as a swimmer with legitimate international medal chances, reached new heights with her swims tonight. First, she posted a 1:47.16 in the 200 back, smashing Missy Franklin’s 17-18 NAG record by over a second as well as the American Record of 1:47.30 held by Kathleen Baker.

Smith went on to lead off her team Riptide’s 400 medley relay with a 49.66, slicing a hundredth off of Beata Nelson‘s 100 back American record of 49.67 from a few months ago. That was her 2nd NAG record and 2nd American record of the night.

The night’s fireworks actually began prior to Smith’s backstroke action, though, as TAC Titans’ Claire Curzan whipped together a 47.67 to win the 100 free and take down another Franklin mark (the 13-14 NAG record). For some more recent context (Franklin was age 14 almost a full decade ago), Curzan, who was .01 off of Gretchen Walsh‘s 13-14 NAG in the 50 free earlier this weekend with a 22.01, is now a full second and change faster than Walsh’s 48.72 best from when she herself was 14. Walsh is currently the most high profile young sprint freestyler in America right now, but Curzan could quickly get to that level despite being younger.

Curzan also went a 51.23 leading off TAC’s 400 medley relay, very close to Smith’s 13-14 NAG of 51.09. In the 200 back, Curzan was 2nd behind Smith with a 1:52.76, leaving her 4th in the age group.

Considering all of that, it’s easy to overlook that a 15-year-old girl went a 1:54 tonight in the 200 IM. Charlotte Hook, also of TAC Titans, posted a 1:54.79 to win the 200 IM. That’s just seven tenths off of Alex Walsh‘s 1:54.02 15-16 NAG record, and Hook only turned 15 this winter. She’s now 5th all-time in the 15-16 age group.


  • Star Aquatics’ Noah Henderson, who has racked up wins at this meet, was 44.17 to take the 100 free.
  • Athens Bulldogs’ Charles Logan was 1:47.20 to win the boys’ 200 back, just four hundredths shy of Smith’s win on the girls’ side.
  • NCAC’s Sam Hoover won the boys’ 200 IM with a 1:48.78.
  • Another NCAC swimmer, Kenneth Lloyd, won the boys’ mile with a 15:27.49.
  • TAC Titans’ Ashley Twichell posted a 15:30.96 in the mile, lopping 30 seconds off of the meet record and moving her to #5 in history in this event. She dropped over four seconds from her old best.
  • TAC won the 400 medley relay on the girls’ side at 3:36.02.
  • The boys’ 400 medley went to TAC, too, with a 3:24.63.

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Why is there such a disparity in performances between TAC’s men’s and women’s groups? Are they under different coaches?


No, they are not.

NC rising

Great swimmers attract great swimmers and the TAC 13/14/15 girls started from a couple nationally ranked girls which attracted more. The boys didn’t start with the same base and have some really good ones but haven’t attracted others from the Triangle teams at the same rate. Rob Norman coached them as age groupers and was named national age group coach of the year for it. A lot of pretty significant teams within 20 miles (MOR, NCAC, YOTA, et al).


I for one am very proud of the TAC Titans. Even though the men’s team may not be as dominant as the women, they have proven here that they deserve just as much respect. They are some of the kindest and hardworking people I have ever met. There have always been rumors circulating about them, but frankly, many of them seem to be from people who are jealous of their success.


Incredible meet indeed. Regan Smith’s and Claire Curzan’s out-of-the world performances have overshadowed other great performances, particularly Charlotte Hook’s ones (4.07.4 in the 400 Im, 1.53.7 in the 200 fly, besides 1.54.7 in the 200 Im). What’s most impressive, particularly about Curzan’s performances (how they’ll translate in the big pool this summer?), is that the 14 year-old phenom went better race after race: her PB in the 100 back (51.23). leading-off the medley relay, was her third race in the last day of competition, after that stellar 47.67 in the 100 free and a draining (not for her) 200 back (PB in 1.52.76). On the men’s side, interesting performances from 15 year-old Sam Hoover: 20.30 in the 50 free, 44.43… Read more »


Most of the TAC boys are very young 15 or 16. They are on a great path. For example, Braeden Haughey recently turned 15 and went 9:15 in the 1000 and 4:26 in the 500.

NC Rising

And Hoover also had a 55:05 in the 100 Breast. Doesn’t turn 16 until after long course. With Hoover, Haughey, Norris from Rocky Mount and more, NC’s got a great group of boys entering the senior ranks with potential to impact for years to come.

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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