Thomas Heilman is an American swimmer who has broken over 25 National Age Group Records and is a 6x Jr Pan Pacs medalist. He was the youngest member of the 2023 World Championship team.
Thomas Heilman attends Western Albemarle High School in Crozet, Virginia, where he was born and raised. He swims for Western Albemarle Highschool and Cavalier Aquatics. His older brother Matthew is also a competitive swimmer and swims for the University of Virginia.
14 NAGs in 11 Days
Thomas Heilman really turned heads when, at the end of 2021, he swam at 3 meets over the course of a week and a half and broke 14 NAGs in the 13-14 age group, cracking one nearly every time he hit the water.
Meet #1: 2021 US Open (LCM), December 1-4
- 50 Free – 22.99 (Prelims, previously 23.19 by Michael Andrew) – #1
- 50 Free – 22.95 (Finals) – #2
- 100 Fly – 53.43 (Prelims, previously 54.43 by Thomas Heilman) – #3
- 200 Free – 1:51.27 (Prelims, previously 1:53.04 by Maximus Williamson) – #4
- 100 Fly – 53.27 (Finals) – #5
- 100 Free – 51.12 (Prelims, previously 51.20 by Thomas Heilman) – #6
Meet #2: YOTA/Arena Capital Classic (SCY), Dec 5
- 100 Free – 43.51 (Relay Lead-off, previously 43.90 by Michael Andrew) – #7
- 400 Free Relay – 3:07.45 (previously 3:08.77 by Carmel Swim Club) – #8
Meet #3: 2021 Speedo Winter Jr Championships (SCY), Dec 8-11
- 100 Fly – 46.42 (Prelims, previously 46.95 by Michael Andrew) – #9
- 200 Free – 1:35.28 (Prelims, previously 1:36.25 by Thomas Heilman) – #10
- 100 Fly – 45.81 (Finals) – #11
- 200 Free – 1:34.68 (Finals) – #12
- 200 Fly – 1:43.97 (Prelims, previously 1:45.39 by Michael Andrew) – #13
- 200 Fly – 1:42.77 (Finals) – #14
You can listen to Heilman discuss his record seige on the SwimSwam Podcast here. After his record-breaking season, Heilman was nominated by USA Today for Boys Rising Star of the Year.
Practice + Pancakes
In March of 2022, SwimSwam traveled to Charlottesville and filmed an episode of Practice + Pancakes with Cavalier Aquatics, in which Heilman (still 14 at the time) swam a 48-second 100y fly 3 times over the course of the workout.
2022 International Team Trials
At the USA Swimming International Team Trials in April, Heilman qualified for the United States roster for the 2022 Pan Pacific Swimming Championships in three events – 100 fly, 100 free, and 200 fly.
2022 Jr Pan Pacific Championships
At the Jr Pan Pacific Championships, Heilman joined Henry McFadden, Daniel Diehl, and Kaii Winkler to break the World Junior Record in the 400-meter freestyle relay on the meet’s first day. Heilman went on to win the 100 fly, breaking the US NAG (formerly held by Luca Urlando) and becoming the youngest swimmer ever under the 52-second threshold, going 51.96.
Heilman also earned silver in the 200 fly (1:56.52) and the 100 free (49.06, breaking another NAG) and as a member of the 800 free relay. Heilman capped his meet with gold in the 400 medley relay.
2022 Winter Jr Championships – East
Heilman once again had a historic meet at the Winter Jr Champs. On day 1, Heilman, as a 15-year-old, swam a 1:41.71 in the final of the 200 IM. This took over a second off of the old 15-16 NAG, held by Michael Andrew.
On Day 2, Heilman clocked a 44.67 in the 100 fly final. That not only shattered the 15-16 NAG of 45.62 held by Luca Urlando, but it was also faster than the 17-18 NAG of 44.75 held by Aiden Hayes.
On the final day of the meet, Heilman made it 3-for-3 as he touched in the 200 fly at 1:40.86, dipping under the mark of 1:40.91 held by Luca Urlando.
For all of his success, Heilman won the 2022 Swammy Award for 15-16 Male Age Group Swimmer of the Year.
2023 VA High School Class 4 State Championships
During his sophomore year at Western Albemarle High School, Heilman won individual titles in the 50-yard freestyle and 100-yard butterfly at the 2023 Virginia High School Class 4 State Championships. His swims contributed to Western Albemarle’s team title.
2023 U.S. International Team Trials (Indianapolis, Indiana)
Heilman had a massive swim in heat 4 of the 200 fly, stopping the clock at 1:55.11 for the second seed heading into finals. He dropped 1.41 seconds from his previous best of 1:56.52 from last summer and moved up to #2 on the American boys 15-16 all-time list, passing both Luca Urlando and Andrew Seliskar. Now, only Michael Phelps has been faster at his age, with the NAG standing at 1:54.58 from 2001. In the final, Heilman chased down Trenton Julian with a fantastic final underwater and last 50 to break Phelp’s NAG with a remarkable 1:54.54. The swim also qualified him for World Championships, becoming one of the youngest boys to make the top international team for the US since the aforementioned Phelps.
Heilman impressed again in the 100 fly on day 3. He bettered his own NAG with a 51.78 in the prelims to make the A final tied 6th. In the final, Heilman passed Shaine Casas over the back 50 with a 27.14 to destroy his own NAG and earn another race at Worlds with a 2nd place finish in a stunning 51.19.
2023 World Aquatics Championships (Fukuoka, Japan)
In 2001 at the World Championships here in Fukuoka, a young Michael Phelps destroyed the field in the 200 fly to make his name known across the swimming world. 22 years later, Thomas Heilman made his name similarly known. In the 200 fly, he was solid in prelims (1:55.59) and semis (1:54.57). In the final Heilman swam a beautiful race to go 1:53.82 and tie for 4th with Ilya Kharun. The swim makes him the fastest ever 18 and under from America at just 16 and the #4 American all-time. Heilman had already beaten the Phelps 15-16 NAG record of 1:54.58 that set the world record and won 2001 Worlds at the US Trials meet in 1:54.54.
|Splits||Heilman – World Champs Finals||Heilman – U.S. Trials Finals|
|100m||54.38 (29.07)||54.20 (28.74)|
|150m||1:24.12 (29.74)||1:24.50 (30.30)|
|200m||1:53.82 (29.70)||1:54.54 (30.04)|
In the 100 fly, he was off his best time with a 51.77 to tie for 16th in the prelims. In a swim-off against Jacob Peters of Great Britain, Heilman improved with a 51.66 but Peters was better and Heilman missed the semis. On the pelims 400 medley relay, Heilman split 51.61. The finals squad netted gold, earning Heilman his first senior international medal.
THOMAS HEILMAN UNPACKS HIS 1ST WORLD CHAMPS PERFORMANCE: