Hayes, Shackell, Han Face Off in Epic 400 IM Showdown at Carmel Winter Invitational

by Riley Overend 10

January 18th, 2024 Club, News, Previews & Recaps

2024 Carmel Winter Invitational

  • Jan. 12-14, 2024
  • Indianapolis, IN
  • SCY (25 yards)

Last weekend’s Carmel Winter Invitational featured a heavyweight battle in the 400 IM between three a trio of swimmers who could be dominating the NCAA together in a few years.

Carmel Swim Club (CSC) 17-year-old Alex Shackell crushed her personal best in the 400 IM with a time of 4:06.20, but Fox Valley Park District Riptides 18-year-old Leah Hayes got her hand on the wall half-a-second earlier with a winning time of 4:05.70.

Shackell’s teammate, CSC 15-year-old Kayla Han, wasn’t far behind with a 3rd-place finish in 4:07.69. All three times would have scored points at last year’s NCAA Championships as Hayes would have placed 8th, Shackell 10th, and Han 15th.

Hayes is joining the three-time defending champion Virginia Cavaliers next season for the 2024-25 campaign as the No. 2 recruit in her class behind Katie Grimes (uncommitted). Shackell is committed to Cal for 2025-26, and Han remains uncommitted in the high school class of 2026.

Shackell knocked nearly three seconds off her lifetime best in the 400 IM en route to her runner-up finish, improving on her previous-best 4:08.99 from November. In the process, she jumped from 66th to 33rd in the U.S. girls’ 17-18 national age group (NAG) rankings.

Shackell won every other event she contested last weekend. She blasted another personal best in the 200 back with a 1:53.00, taking almost two seconds off her previous-best 1:54.86 from last year’s Carmel Winter Invitational. Her new lifetime best slots in at 53rd in the NAG rankings. Shackell added victories in the 50 free (22.25), 100 fly (50.80), and 200 fly (1:51.34).

Hayes picked another win in the 100 back with a personal-best 53.22, slicing a few tenths off her previous-best 53.51 from October. Her best time before that was 55.63 from 2021. Hayes placed 1st in the 100 free (48.88) while also earning runner-up finishes in the 100 breast (1:01.03) and 100 fly (52.78).

Han topped the podium in the 200 IM (1:58.10) and 500 free (4:42.89) while also tallying personal bests in the 100 breast (1:04.32 – 8th place), 200 breast (2:14.97 – 2nd place), and 100 fly (54.16 – 3rd place). Her previous bests stood at 1:05.41 in the 100 breast from 2021, 2:17.30 in the 200 breast from November, and 55.25 in the 100 fly from 2022.

Other highlights on the girls’ side included CSC 16-year-old Molly Sweeney sweeping the breaststroke events with wins in the 100 breast (1:00.46) and 200 breast (2:10.65). She wasn’t far off her lifetime bests of 59.63 and 2:07.49 from last February and December, respectively. Sweeney also secured a runner-up finish in the 100 free (49.76) and placed 4th in both the 400 IM (4:12.06) and 200 back (2:00.24), all in best times.

Men’s Recap

Aaron Shackell competed for the first time since opting to return home to CSC last month and take an Olympic redshirt away from Cal this spring.

Shackell, 19, won every event he contested with season bests in each except for the 200 fly (1:43.90), where he was just half-a-second shy of his personal-best 1:43.40 at the Minnesota Invitational last month. He notched season bests en route to victories in the 100 fly (47.56), 100 free (43.63), 200 free (1:34.74), and 500 free (4:16.70).

CSC 17-year-old Gregg Enoch placed 2nd behind Shackell in the 100 fly (personal-best 48.39) and 200 fly (1:46.78). The Louisville commit (’24) added a runner-up finish in the 200 breast (personal-best 2:03.01) as well as a 3rd-place effort in the 200 back (1:52.02 after personal-best 1:50.95 in prelims). Enoch’s biggest time drops came in the 100 fly and 200 back, where he dropped .69 seconds and 1.47 seconds, respectively.

Spartan Aquatic Club 14-year-old Trae Lewis pulled off a huge time drop in the 200 back to break into the top-100 NAG rankings. He came into the meet with a best time of 1:52.05 from November that he lowered to 1:51.42 in prelims before ultimately winning the event in a personal-best 1:49.74. That ranks 71st in the U.S. boys’ 13-14 NAG rankings. Lewis added lifetime bests in the 400 IM (4:00.30) and 200 IM (1:52.83), where he placed 3rd and 9th, respectively.

CSC 15-year-old Brian Qian recorded a victory in the 400 IM with a time of 3:57.52, shaving almost a second off his previous best (3:58.43) from November. He also went a best time in the 200 IM, placing 3rd in 1:51.76 to chop nearly two seconds off his previous best (1:53.49) from just last month.

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3 months ago

Sucks living in the same state as Carmel swim club. Constantly vying for second place at best.

Bill Lumberg
3 months ago

very curious as to how Hayes enters the picture in the 4IM at trials. Grimes takes it but Hayes is a real threat for #2.

3 months ago

great meet!

*pivoting back to the subject at hand*

Last edited 3 months ago by swimster
Sherry Smit
3 months ago

Off topic: But Grimes, still uncommitted, as seen in the article. Um, I don’t ever remember an athlete taking this long to commit to a school….

Reply to  Sherry Smit
3 months ago

Because she’s going pro lol

Reply to  Sherry Smit
3 months ago

going pro if she does well this summer i bet

Reply to  saltie
3 months ago

Can swimmers still talk to potential sponsorships as kind of a what if? So if she does well this summer, can see if it would be worth it to go pro by weighing her options and getting an idea of what kind of $$$ would come in.

Reply to  Sherry Smit
3 months ago

While maybe unusual for a star like Grimes signing in February is common.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Sherry Smit
3 months ago

She had an Instagram story recently with tons of recruiting material dumped on her bed. One school after another

Reply to  Sherry Smit
3 months ago

She could just be taking her time like most normal high school students. She’s so good the schools will find a full scholarship for her if she makes up her mind last minute. Or it’s likely she may just go pro.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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