Swim of the Week is brought to you by arena, a SwimSwam partner.
Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Amidst last weekend’s busy schedule that included the Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, the Mare Nostrum Tour finale in Monaco and the Indy Spring Cup, the Speedo Sectionals in Richmond really flew under the radar.
Although the field wasn’t quite as stacked as the other meets, there were a few high-profile swimmers in attendance, including Thomas Heilman, Erin Gemmell, and another name who has been on a rapid upward trajectory this season, Leah Shackley.
Shackley, 16, was just two weeks removed from having a breakout performance at the Renee McCutchan Invite, where she produced lifetime bests in the 100 back (59.91), 200 back (2:08.65) and 100 fly (58.07), all ranking inside the top seven all-time in the girls’ 15-16 age group.
In Richmond, Shackley re-lowered her best times in the 100 back (59.55) and 200 back (2:08.42), while she was just a tad shy in the 100 fly (58.22) and swam the first long course 200 fly of her career in 2:12.41.
The 100 back performance in particular stood out amongst the rest, as the Blair Region YMCA swimmer leapfrogs Isabelle Stadden and Rachel Bootsma to move into fifth all-time in the girls’ 15-16 age group. The only swimmers Shackley trails are three of the top current backstrokers in the U.S., Claire Curzan, Regan Smith and Phoebe Bacon, along with the 2012 100 Olympic champion in the event, Missy Franklin.
All-Time Performers, Girls’ 15-16 Age Group, 100 Backstroke (LCM)
- Claire Curzan (TAC Titans), 58.82 – 2021
- Regan Smith (Riptide), 58.83 – 2018
- Phoebe Bacon (Nation’s Capital Swim Club), 59.02 – 2019
- Missy Franklin (Colorado Stars), 59.18 – 2012
- Leah Shackley (Blair Regional YMCA), 59.55 – 2023
- Isabelle Stadden (Aquajets Swim Team), 59.71 – 2019
- Rachel Bootsma (Aquajets Swim Team), 59.77 – 2009
- Maggie Wanezek (Elmbrook Swim Club), 59.96 – 2022
- Elizabeth Pelton (Unattached), 59.99 – 2010
- Erika Pelaez (Eagle Aquatics), 1:00.12 – 2023
Now having dropped nearly a full second in six months, Shackley has found immense gains on the second 50 of her 100 back, which aligns with the progress she’s made in the 200-meter event.
|Shackley, December 2022||Shackley, May 7, 2023||Shackley, May 20, 2023|
|1:00.45 (31.09)||59.91 (30.64)||59.55 (30.35)|
Shackley also broke the overall YMCA Record, lowering the 59.71 mark established by Catie DeLoof in 2021. Prior to that, the mark stood at 1:00.94 for three years, set by Grace Ariola in 2018.
The U.S. is loaded in the women’s 100 back, but Shackley still ranks fifth in the nation and 12th worldwide in the 2022-23 season.
2022-2023 LCM Women 100 Back
After changing her collegiate commitment to NC State (having initially committed to Indiana) in late April, it’s been a busy month for Shackley with numerous impressive performances, and she’s surely established herself as someone to watch as we head to the U.S. National Championships next month in Indianapolis.
Follow arena USA on Instagram here.
arena has revolutionized the world of aquatic sport through insightful collaboration with world class athletes and the development of cutting edge competitive swimwear since 1973. Today, this spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on through a continuous evolution of advanced materials and Italian design that improves the performance, style and expression of all those who chose arena. From leading the lanes to living in style, arena is dedicated to providing all swimmers with the tools they need to express themselves, feel confident, win and achieve more. Because in arena, you can.