This year’s Winter Junior Nationals proved to be a very quick meet with a total of six new age-group records being recorded following the completion of the competition. Ryan Hoffer, Sean Grieshop, Abbey Weitzeil and Eva Merell combined to break those seven records, with three of them falling at the hands of sprint-star Hoffer.
Ryan Hoffer was electric this past weekend taking a sledgehammer to sprint records and writing his name in stone as one of if not the best sprinter in his year. He started off with the 50 yard freestyle by cutting eight one-hundredths off his previous age-group record to better the mark in prelims.
Heading into finals, Hoffer once again lowered the mark to a 19.38 dropping a total of 0.23 seconds off what was the record going into the meet. With that time, Hoffer became the only swimmer in his age-group category to go under the 20-second barrier a total of 10 times. All other 15-16 year-olds in history have been under 20 seconds a total of five times.
The thing that differentiated Hoffer’s swims from the rest of the field was the fact that he chose to stay underwater off the walls. In total, he swam more than half of us race underwater which isn’t the traditional game plan for a 50 freestyle. Usually in the splash-and-dash swimmers come up and don’t attempt the full 15 meters of underwater kicking off the walls. Hoffer’s unique approach to the race is one that makes him such a great short course swimmer.
Hoffer took his amazing underwater swimming and came very close to breaking the age-group record in the 100 fly during prelims. He had a big battle set up with Michael Andrews who took the second seed behind him heading into finals, but come the evening it was clear that Hoffer had a lot more than a 47.26 to offer.
Heading out in a 21.70 Hoffer rocked a very fast 100 fly to come back in 24.72 and set a new age-group record with a time of 46.42. That time didn’t just break the previous mark held by Alex Valente at 46.99, it destroyed it. Following his 100 fly he swam the finals of the 100 backstroke where he finished with another victory. He touched the wall in 47.19 which wasn’t far off the age-group record in the event.
The next day, Hoffer broke another age-group record in prelims with a 43.05 in the 100 freestyle. He shaved off 0.08 seconds from his previous 100 freestyle record of 43.13 to take the top seed heading into finals. It was clear nobody could touch him, and nobody did as he flew into the wall with a time of 42.67 to not only break his record, but take a jackhammer to it and utterly smash it into pieces.
Hoffer will be aging up soon, and will need to contend with sprint stars such as Caeleb Dressel.
Watch Hoffer’s 100 freestyle here.
Watch Hoffer’s 100 fly here.
Watch Hoffer’s 50 free here.
Sean Grieshop had an incredible junior nationals, coming away with a total of two new age-group records.
He set out to swim the 500 freestyle on day two prelims and posted a 4:19.26 to drop over three and a half seconds off his lifetime best and set himself up perfectly for his first individual win of the meet.
With the age-group mark standing at Townley Haas’ 4:17.45 before the race, there was a clear indication after Grieshop finished his prelim swim that he would have the potential to get close to that mark in finals.
He kicked off the race in 49.15 and built the remainder of his race on that mark. He came in to the 200 mark with a second 100 split of 51.87 followed by a 51.98 to get him through to the 300 yard mark. He swam a 52.17 to get him through to 400 at 3:25.17 and held on for the last 100 with a 51.42 to set the new age-group record of 4:16.59.
That time served as his entryway into the age-group records in the 15-16 year-old category. That specific age-group has some of the biggest names such as Michael Phelps, Andrew Seliskar, and Ryan Hoffer who all hold records in the 15-16 age-group.
The NITRO swimmer finished eighth in the 200 IM on the same night with a 1:50.74, and swam for his team’s medley relay.
The following evening Grieshop won the 400 IM and wasn’t too far off Michael Phelps’ age-group record of 3:42.08. Grieshop threw down a very solid 3:44.52 to take home the gold in the event and come within two and a half seconds of a Michael Phelps record.
He swam a few more events, however it was the 1650 where he stepped up on the blocks and once again made a huge difference. He was a 4:24.99 at the 500 yard mark, a time which would have finished seventh in the individual 500 freestyle event. He held on to his pace quite nicely and went into the 1000 yard mark at 8:53.77.
Splitting a 25.93 on the last 50 Grieshop stretched into the wall for a time of 14:45.40, breaking the previous national age-group mark by over six seconds.
Watch Grieshop’s 500 freestyle here.
Watch Grieshop’s 1650 freestyle here.
Abbey Weitzeil has recently shown the world that she is one of if not the best sprinter in her year. She’s really broken out onto the American scene as not just an amazing age-group swimmer, but one of the best sprinters in general in the United States.
With Simone Manuel starting her freshman year at Stanford, everyone has been focused on her as the sprint queen in the United States, however Weitzeil made sure to let the world know that she’s a dominant sprint force as well.
Weitzeil started off her record hunt with a 21.49 in the 50 yard freestyle to break Simone Manuel’s age-group mark, but it was her 100 freestyle that was her most impressive swim of the competition.
Going into the meet, the age-group mark in the 100 freestyle was a 46.75 set at the hands of Manuel. The most notable fact about the record was that it wasn’t just the age-group mark but the all around American record in the event, and the fastest anyone had ever been in yards.
That was until Weitzeil got her hands on it…
All Weitzeil swam at the meet were relays, opting out of her individual swims which included the 200 IM and 100 fly. On the last event of the night Weitzeil led off her team’s 4×100 freestyle relay and touched the wall in 46.29.
That time didn’t just break Manuel’s record, but established her as the fastest female ever in the 100 yard freestyle. She broke the record by a whopping 0.46 seconds as well to take almost a half-second chunk off the record.
Watch Weitzeil’s 100 free leadoff here.
Eva Merell broke Cassidy Bayer’s 13-14 age-group mark of 53.30 in the 100 fly that she set back in March.
The only individual ‘A’ final that Merell made at the competition was in the 100 fly, and there’s no doubt that making an ‘A’ final at that meet is difficult at just 14, however she took the fifth seed after prelims with a time of 53.81.
Although lost in the commotion a bit, Merell dropped a solid 0.80 seconds off her time to make that time, however she was still about half a second off of Bayer’s record and would need to drop another large chunk of time once again if she wanted to come close to that mark.
Heading into the final Merell took out the first 50 in 24.68, significantly faster than the 25.12 in which she was out in prelims. She held on and split a 28.51 on that last 50 to stop the touch pads at 53.19, take 0.62 seconds off her best time from her morning swim, and take down Bayer’s record by just over a tenth of a second.
Merell was the only swimmer under 16 in the final, however managed to pull away with a new age-group record and a silver medal.
Watch Merell’s 100 fly here.