2022 WINTER JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – EAST
- December 7-10, 2022
- Greensboro Aquatic Center, Greensboro, North Carolina
- Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
- Prelims @9:00AM ET, Finals at 5:00 PM ET (except for day 1 timed finals)
- Psych Sheets
- Live Results
Just days after hosting the U.S. Open, the Greensboro Aquatic Center will welcome some of the best junior swimmers in the country this week for the 2022 Winter Junior Championships – East.
The competition will serve as the year-end target meet for many of the top age groupers on the eastern side of the U.S., while Austin, Texas will host the “West” meet.
Headlining the psych sheets in Greensboro is two-time world champion Summer McIntosh, who is coming off an impressive showing at the U.S. Open and will be one of the key swimmers to keep an eye on as she ventures into short course yards.
Below, find four key storylines to watch at the meet:
WHAT WILL MCINTOSH DO IN YARDS?
Even for her incredibly high standard, McIntosh has been on phenomenal form over the last couple of months, first beating Katie Ledecky in the 400 free (SCM) at the FINA World Cup stop in Toronto and then dropping the fourth-fastest 400 IM time in history (LCM) at the U.S. Open over the weekend.
Despite the fact she’s currently training in the U.S. with the Sarasota Sharks, McIntosh essentially comes into the meet with a blank slate in terms of short course yard best times—and could very well put up something historically fast.
The Canadian native is entered in three of her primary events (or the SCY version of them), the 500 free, 200 fly and 200 free, and she’s also in the 100 fly and 200 back.
Given that this will be her first full competition racing in the yards pool, it’s tough to predict she’ll come in and challenge a U.S. Open Record. With that being said, we should expect her to launch up the all-time rankings in her better events.
Only two women have ever been sub-4:30 in the 500 free, with Ledecky owning the U.S. Open Record at 4:24.06. Three have broken 1:50 in the 200 fly (and eight have gone sub-1:51), and in the 200 free, two have gone under 1:40 and seven sub-1:41.
With the caveat that time conversions are more for context than anything else, McIntosh’s recent performances in SCM on the FINA World Cup circuit translate to the following times in SCY (with SCM in brackets):
- 200 free – 1:41.46 (1:52.80)
- 500 free – 4:26.05 (3:52.80)
- 200 fly – 1:51.17 (2:03.40)
- 200 back – 1:50.67 (2:02.85)
She didn’t race the 100 fly at the World Cup, but did notably open up her LCM 400 IM in 59.40 at the U.S. Open, which is faster than her SCM best time from the 2021 ISL season.
The 200 back has become an event she’s put an increased focus on over the last few months, most recently becoming the fourth-fastest Canadian ever at the U.S. Open with a LC time of 2:07.15. If she manages to break 1:50 in Greensboro, she’ll enter the top 25 all-time in the event.
So while National Age Group Records won’t be on the line for McIntosh this week, all eyes will be on her as we see where she lands in the all-time rankings in the SCY pool.
Not to be overlooked is McIntosh’s current training partner in Sarasota, Michaela Mattes, who is the top seed in the 500 free (4:40.12) and is coming off of setting a best time in the LC 400 free at the U.S. Open (4:09.53).
THOMAS HEILMAN – NAG RECORD WATCH AT 15
Coming off a massive summer that included winning six medals at the Junior Pan Pacific Championships, Thomas Heilman comes into Winter Juniors riding a ton of momentum. Not only did he have a breakout long course season, he also set a new best time in the 100 breast this past weekend.
Heilman is the National Age Group Record holder for 13-14 boys in five different individual SCY events, three of which he set at this meet last year (200 free, 100 fly, 200 fly).
Since turning 15, Heilman has already puts his name on two NAG records in the 15-16 age group in long course, doing so in the 100 free (49.06) and 100 fly (51.98). The question then becomes if he can do that again in short course yards.
Heilman is entered in the 100 fly, 200 fly, 200 IM and 100 breast, and his best opportunity to get a new record will come in the fly events, though a freestyle record could also occur on a relay lead-off.
His best time of 45.81 in the 100 fly is less than two-tenths shy of Luca Urlando‘s 15-16 NAG of 45.62, while in the 200 fly, Heilman’s 1:42.77 PB is still a ways away from Urlando’s 1:40.91. However, it’s been a full 12 months since Heilman set those best times, so it’s hard to imagine we don’t see the 100 fly mark go down, if not both of them.
If Heilman leads off the Cavalier Aquatic/Piedmont Family YMCA relays, he would need to drop from 19.78 to 19.24 in the 50 free, 43.43 to 42.52 in the 100 free, and 1:34.68 to 1:33.33 in the 200 free. In the 200 IM, he would need to drop nearly four seconds to get down to Michael Andrew‘s 1:42.77.
DANIEL DIEHL & KAII WINKLER COMING OFF RECORD PERFORMANCES
For Diehl, he’s coming off of breaking and then re-breaking the boys’ 17-18 NAG record in the LCM 100 back at the U.S. Open, ultimately finishing in a time of 53.07.
At this point in his career, Diehl is surely stronger in the long course pool, but it will be interesting to see what he’ll be able to follow up with in short course this weekend.
The 17-year-old owns best times of 46.84 and 1:41.92 in the 100 and 200 back, respectively, which were both done in the same month that he went 53.59 in the LCM 100 back (March 2022). So while Ryan Murphy‘s NAG records of 44.63 and 1:37.35 may be out of reach for now, how far Diehl can bring his PBs down will be something to keep an eye on.
He will face some tough competition in the backstroke events, coming in as the top seed in the 200 back with his 1:41.92, just ahead of Firestone’s Jonny Marshall (1:41.99), while he’s down in fourth in the 100 back behind Scotty Buff (45.89), Will Modglin (45.90) and Marshall (46.74).
Diehl is also the top seed in the 200 free, where he’ll go head-to-head with Winkler, who is coming off of breaking Caeleb Dressel’s Florida high school record in the event last month.
Winkler, 16, went 1:34.18 in the event, and more impressively, followed up by resetting Ryan Hoffer‘s 15-16 NAG in the 100 free in a time of 42.52.
Whether or not Winkler can bring that record down further, and maybe challenge the 200 free NAG of 1:33.33, will be something to watch, as will the clash with Diehl in the event. The two swimmers are seeded 1-2, well clear of the rest of the field.
CHARLOTTE CRUSH VYING FOR TITLES AT 14
After a standout performance at the FINA World Cup in Indianapolis, Charlotte Crush enters Winter Juniors with a chance to fight for event victories despite being four years younger than some of her competitors.
At just 14, Crush is seeded in the top five in all of her events, including being tied for the top seed in the girls’ 50 free and seeded third in both the 100 back and 100 fly.
Crush is certainly within striking distance of some of the girls’ 13-14 NAG records, especially the 50 free, where her 22.14 best time is only a quarter of a second back of Claire Curzan‘s mark of 21.89.
But beyond the record watch, Crush will be in the hunt for wins in some of the most stacked fields of the meet, with names like Alex Shackell, Kiley Wilhelm, Erika Pelaez and Berit Berglund surrounding her on the psych sheets.
After her explosion in short course meters, Crush could take the next step in SCY in Greensboro.