Yards races are swum exclusively in the United States, and most of the country’s elite competitors are well into their long course season in preparation for this summer’s World Championships. Given that fact, nobody would fault one for presuming that the fastest women’s 100 back time in the country was swum at this weekend’s NCAA Championships. That, however, would be wrong. While Cindy Tran’s NCAA Championship winning time of 51.31 was quite impressive, especially for a freshman on her 19th birthday, she was shown up by an even younger competitor: 17-year old Rachel Bootsma.
Bootsma, who will only next season be beginning her senior year at Eden Prairie High School in suburban Minneapolis, took the NCSA Junior National Championship with an incredible mark of 50.76.
Now, to put that mark in it’s impressive historical context. We’ll use bullet points, since the number of honors it garners can be overwhelming in paragraph form.
- It shatters Natalie Coughlin’s 17-18 National Age Group Record of 51.23 set back in 2001. In December, just before her 17th birthday, Bootsma already broke the 15-16 (and high school) records. This mark doesn’t count as a NFHS record, because it wasn’t set representing her high school team, but she should surely lower that standard next season.
- This mark is the 10th fastest swim of all-time. Remember that because of relay leadoffs, there’s usually a higher concentration of fast 100 back times than any other event.
- This mark makes her the 3rd-fastest 100 yard backstroker ever. The only two ahead of her are American Natalie Coughlin, formerly of Cal, and Brit Gemma Spofforth, formerly of Florida. Those two won 4 and 3 NCAA titles, respectively, in this event during their college careers, and are former (Coughlin) or current (Spofforth) World Record holders. The all-time mark in yards is 49.97, by Coughlin, and it’s hard to see Bootsma not getting there.
- This time would’ve won every NCAA Championship except for four; including the last two.
Besides the 100 back, she also won the 100 fly Jr. National title in 52.64, which in itself would have placed her in the top 10 at NCAA’s. Among her other swims, she also had a 1:55.9 in the 200 fly, 48.99 in the 100 free, and split a 22.18 on the anchor leg of the winning 200 free relay. Her Aquajets club has amassed a truly impressive quartet, and they also broke their own 15-18 NAG Record in the 200 medley relay at 1:39.15. That includes breaststroker Abagail Duncan, who won that title in 1:00.01 and will be headed to Auburn next year. Bootsma still has the 50 back left today, which is arguably her best event (she was 3rd at last summer’s Pan-Pac Championships).
But if it Bootsma’s recruiting value wasn’t already high enough, it just went through the roof. By the end of this meet, she will no doubt be one of the top-3 recruits in her class. Among the class of 2012 (including the impressive Liz Pelton), she’s the only one who, a year out, already has National Championship worthy times. A lot of the speculation has been that she’ll follow Cindy Tran and Natalie Coughlin to Cal, though I’m secretly hoping that she’ll stay close to home in the Big Ten somewhere. For what it’s worth, at least four of her former teammates (Lauren Greenberg, Stephanie Solfelt, Haley Szews, and Tess Behrens) are already on the roster at Minnesota.