Swimming in the timed finals of the 800-meter freestyle on Day One of NCSA Summer Championship, Katie Grimes, Arabella Sims, and Dylan Becker of Sandpipers of Nevada all qualified for the 2020 United States Olympic Team Trials.
Grimes (13) and Sims (14) finished second and third, respectively, in the girls’ 800 final behind Fox Valley Swim Team’s Rachel Stege, who also qualified for 2020 Trials with 8:39.78. Grimes blasted an 8:41.52 for her first foray into sub-9:00 territory. Previously, her best time was the 9:00.01 she swam on Memorial Day weekend at the beginning of the summer. Grimes thus becomes (unofficially) the third-fastest 13-year-old ever and ranks #13 on the all-time list for the 13-14 age group. Sims, too, dropped gobs of time. Seeded with 9:02.47, she improved her PB by 14.8 seconds to stop the clock at 8:47.67. Sims moves to 35th all-time for 13-14 girls. Sandpipers’ Becker lowered his PB by just over 11.1 seconds to swim 8:07.47 in the boys’ 800. That clears the Trials cut by 5.52 seconds and ranks him fourth among 17-year-old boys for the 2019 long-course season.
The Las Vegas-based team has built a reputation for developing swimmers who excel in racing at the longer end of event range. In addition to distance freestyle and 400 IM, the Sandpipers have also had success in open water. Erica Sullivan and Brennan Gravley represented the United States this summer on the 2019 FINA Open Water World Championships roster. Becker won the national 5k title at 2019 Junior National Open Water Championships. Sullivan won the girls’ 5k and Gravley was third in the boys’ race in 2018. The previous summer, the Sandpipers had two girls and two boys on the podium: Sullivan (gold), Reece Hazen, Gravley (silver), and Joseph Gutierrez (bronze). U.S. National Teamer Logan Houck, Riley Molina, Nicholas McDowell, and Hailey Houck also came up through the program.
In addition to punching their tickets to Omaha in the 800 free on Tuesday, both Grimes and Sims showed their mastery of the full range of freestyle distances by contributing legs to the Sandpipers’ 13-14 National Age Group Record in the 4×50 free relay. Sims led off in 26.55, taking a full second off her previous best flat-start time of 27.53, and Grimes swam the second leg in 26.91.