Disclaimer: Dolfin 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 Dolfin Swim 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.
With all due respect to Caeleb Dressel‘s 50.3 100 fly, we’re going to highlight some less-publicized swims with this week’s spotlight. (We’re sure Dressel won’t mind too terribly, as he’s already won enough of these “of the week/month” awards to fill many mantlepieces).
13-year-olds Leah Hayes and Jillian Cox became two of the three youngest U.S. Olympic Trials qualifiers of the 2020 cycle – and recent history suggests the youngest qualifiers are worth more than a passing footnote.
First, the specifics for Hayes and Cox. Hayes competes for the Fox Valley Park District Riptides of Illinois. She went 4:50.99 in the 400 IM, getting under the Olympic Trials cut of 4:51.79 and is the youngest of the three 13-year-olds currently qualified. Cox swims for Austin Trinity Aquatic Club of Texas. She went 4:16.27 in the 400 free, sneaking under the Olympic Trial cut of 4:16.89.
Sure, a 14-year-old actually making the U.S. Olympic team is pretty rare. But the 2016 U.S. Olympic Trials featured 8 girls who qualified as 13-year-olds. (5 of them aged up to 14 by the time Trials actually happened, which will be the case for Hayes and Cox). Of those seven, three have already found their way onto top U.S. travel teams just three years later.
2016 U.S. Olympic Trials – Qualifiers who were 13 at some point in 2016
|Swimmer||Age at 2016 Trials||2016 Trials finishes||
2019 Travel Team?
|Tristen Ulett||13||80th (100 back), 115th (100 fly)|
|Phoebe Bacon||13||83rd (100 back)||Pan American Games|
|Gretchen Walsh||13||125th (50 free)|
|Ellie Andrews||13||114th (100 breast)|
|Ella Nelson||14||55th (400 IM), 61st (200 breast), 75th (200 IM), 102nd (100 breast)|
|Alex Walsh||14||11th (200 back), 12th (100 back), 46th (200 IM)||Pan American Games|
|Regan Smith||14||13th (100 back), 33rd (200 back), 81st (100 fly)||
|Isabel Gormley||14||84th (400 IM)|
|Abby Arens||14||54th (200 breast), 61st (100 breast)|
This time around, Hayes is the youngest current qualifier. Maggie Wanezek of Elmbrook Swim Club in Wisconsin comes next, holding a 1:02.32 in the 100 back from earlier this year that is below the 1:02.69 Olympic Trial cut. Then it’s Cox.
As of right now, Hayes is ranked roughly 39th in the 400 IM among Americans over the Olympic Trials qualifying period (from last December through today). Wanezek is ranked about 40th, and Cox ranked about 50th.
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