Without any live age group meets taking place, we’re looking back at the breakout swims and seasons of current U.S. National Team members.
Kathleen Baker, 17, Team Elite (MAC-NC): At 17 years old, Kathleen Baker had already established herself as a top-tier junior-level swimmer. At March 2014’s ESSZ Sectionals, however, she took things to another level. She hit best times and U.S. Open cuts in seven events – across all strokes. Baker went 48.20 in the 100 free, 1:43.61 in the 200 free, 51.51 in the 100 back, 59.37 in the 100 free, 52.68 in the 100 fly, 1:58.08 in the 200 fly and 1:54.50 in the 200 IM. That 200 IM time held up as the fastest in the country for 17-year-olds that season by over two seconds, her 100 back also ranked No. 1, and her 200 free was the second-fastest that season.
Katie McLaughlin, 12, Mission Viejo (MVN-CA): In her first meet as a 13-year-0ld, the long course California Last Chance Meet in July 2010, Katie McLaughlin went six best times. She dropped time in the 400 free (4:38.61), 1500 free (18:53.19), 200 back (2:33.74), 100 breast (1:25.25), 200 breast (3:03.30) and 200 IM (2:32.68) – all her (relatively) “off” events. That meet proved to be a smoke signal, as a week later she improved in her six best events. At the Junior Olympics meet in late July, she went quadruple-A cuts or better in the long course 50 (27.67), 100 (59.58) and 200 free (2:07.74), 100 (1:04.80) and 200 fly (2:23.98), and 100 back (1:08.03).
Ryan Held, 17, Springfield YMCA (SPY-IL): 100 free, 43.91 – In mid-March 2013, a then 17-year-old Ryan Held broke 46 seconds in the 100-yard free for the first time, going 45.78 at YMCA States. Roughly two weeks later at YMCA Nationals, Held dropped well over a second, going 43.91. That time held up to make him the fifth-fastest 17-year-old in the country for the 2012-13 season. At the same meet, he dropped over half a second in the 50 free to break 20 seconds for the first time (19.92) and over a second-and-a-half in the 200 free (1:39.54), breaking 1:40 for the first time. Held added a lifetime best in the 100 fly at 49.90.
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