The Clearwater Aquatic Team is having themselves a day on the first night of the NCSA Junior National Championships in Orlando. Two swimmers, aged 14 and 15 respectively, swept the meet-opening 1000 yard freestyles, including one in a National Age Group Record.
In the men’s race, 14-year old Matthew Hirschberger swam a 9:02.37, which takes down the 2008 record set by Nicholas Caldwell (another Floridian) that was a 9:07.95. Hirschberger’s best time coming into the meet was only a 9:23.
No, that’s not a typo. He broke the record by more than five-and-a-half seconds. Hirschberger now has the record for this event in both the 11-12 and 13-14 age groups.
That time is so fast, that it would already rank in the top 15 among 15-16 year old boys, just behind the legendary Fran Crippen. The next-highest placeing 14 & under in the race was First Colony’s Christopher Yeager in 9:35.66 for 75th; He also ranks in the top 100 13-14’s of all-time in this event, which shows how truly outstanding Hirschberger’s victory was.
Jay Litherland (9:04.76) of the Dynamo Swim Club and Tyler Fowler (9:05.82) of the Tsunami Swim Team in Kansas City, two rising swimmers in the distance scene, were 2nd and 3rd, both with five-or-better second time drops.
Crimson Aquatics’ Josh Beals was 4th in 9:05.86.
Hirschberger’s teammate, both under the guidance of the legendary Randy Reese, Becca Mann won the women’s race in a 9:31.79. That knocks another eight seconds off of her own personal best in the event. That’s a huge time drop, but sort of what she seems to do at every meet in one event-or-another.
Mann is only 15, so it would’ve been a challenge to break this Katie Ledecky NAG Record already, but the swim does rank her 7th on the all-time Age Group list. She’ll have another 9 seconds to go in the next year-and-a-half or so to get this one.
Leah Stevens from the Lakeside Swim team in Kentucky was 2nd in 9:38.34: a two-second drop for her.
The real surprise to stand on this podium, though, was Kylie Stewart, a 16-year old from the Dynamo Swim Club, in 9:48.32 for 3rd.
She’s already well known to followers of American swimming; in fact, she’s on the national team thanks to her 5th-place finish in the 200 back at the Olympic Trials. She’s always had a very good 500 yard free, but hadn’t really done much to stretch it to the 1000 until now. That swim is a best time for her by 13 seconds.