Grace Cooper Moves to Top of 15-Year Old US Ranks in Minneapolis


University of Minnesota rising rising senior Conner McHugh set a new Minneapolis Sectionals Record on Wednesday to kick off the 2017 long course edition of the meet. Swimming in the 200 breaststroke, he finished in 2:12.89, more than 3 seconds ahead of his competition, to break the 2011 record of Matthew Elliott by exactly a second. He also got the record in prelims with a 2:13.07.

That swim for McHugh was about four-tenths from his best time, swum at this year’s Worlds Trials.

That made McHugh, in spite of his record-setting swim, one of the few champions on Wednesday to not go a big personal best en route to victory.

Among the swimmers who highlighted that best was Grace Cooper, a 15-year old from Delta Aquatics in Illinois. She swam a 56.38 to win the women’s 100 free and pick up a second U.S. Open cut to go with her 50 free from June. That time is a two-and-a-half second drop from her previous personal best. That swim is also the fastest time by an American 15-year old so far this season, jumping names the likes of U.S. Worlds team member Regan Smith (56.53) and National Age Group Record holder Kate Douglass (56.54).

Other Day 1 Winners:

  • Bowen Becker won the men’s 100 free in 50.66. The top 7 finishers in that race are all college students, as were 11 of the top 12. The lone exception was 16-year old Donovan Lahmann from the West Swim Club, who finished 8th in the A-final.
  • The women’s 200 breaststroke saw a tie for first between Hannah Hunt of the Fox Valley Swim Team (the same club that produced the United States’ top male breaststroker, Kevin Cordes), and Vanessa Herrman of AquaStorm in North Dakota. They swam matching 2:35.97s. For Herrman, that breaks the North Dakota 17-18 state record in the event by 5 seconds.
  • Kelsey Drake took the women’s 200 fly in 2:14.89. Emma Lasecki, a 15-year old from Green Bay, took 2nd in 2:17.26.
  • Jack Herron won the men’s 200 fly in 2:01.49. That’s his best time by a second-and-a-half and would have been an Olympic Trials cut in 2016 (2020 cuts have not yet been released).
  • Grace Tierney won the women’s 800 free in 8:56.81. She was the only swimmer under 9 minutes in that event.
  • Minnesota’s Nick Plachinski won the men’s 800 free in 8:22.81 – four seconds better than his seed time.


Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Big pappi
5 years ago

What about Scottie P

MN Sectional Spectator
5 years ago

Just an added note….They also announced that it was Grace Cooper’s 15th birthday yesterday. What a great way to celebrate!

Reply to  MN Sectional Spectator
5 years ago

Wow, she has alot of potential O_O

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

Read More »