In a couple-week period chock full of outstanding short course yard swimming, perhaps no one had a more impressive run than 16-year-old York YMCA standout Meghan Small.
Swimming at Short Course YMCA Nationals, Small was everywhere – the high school junior swam 9 different events over the 5 day meet, totaling 18 different swims between prelims and finals. She smashed huge margins off her previous bests to win six of those events (including all four of her individuals) and catapult herself into the top-tier of next year’s college recruiting lists.
We caught up with her coach Michael Brooks of the York YMCA to get some insights into Small’s training regimen.
Brooks says the York team does a lot of IM-oriented training, something that clearly showed through in Small’s wide-ranging event lineup.
“We are an IM-based program, so swimmers cannot hide,” Brooks says. “We put a premium on being strong in all four strokes. [Small] trains in everything and trains well in everything.
“It was very difficult deciding which four events to enter [at YNats], since she had 7 or 8 that she could reasonably have chosen and done well in.”
Coaches are generally very complimentary of their star swimmers, but in this case, Brooks’ perception is backed up by some serious results. Here are all of Small’s event finishes from YMCA Nationals:
- 200 back: 1:51.74 – 1st
- 100 back: 52.19 – 1st
- 400 IM: 4:03.96 – 1st
- 200 IM: 1:54.25 – 1st
- 50 free (relay split): 22.21
- 100 breast (relay split): 59.96
- 200 free (relay leadoff): 1:45.48
- 50 breast (relay split): 27.91
- 100 free (relay split): 48.11
All four individual races rank Small within the top 10 of all-time for the 15-16 age group. Her 200 IM is the second-best of all-time, and her 400 IM and 200 back each rank 3rd.
Equally impressive was that Small’s 400 IM and 100 back (9th all-time) came in a tough back-to-back double on Wednesday.
The idea to swim those two events close together was all Small, according to her coach.
“The 100 back /400 IM on the second day was her idea,” says Brooks. “I wasn’t so sure, but since she was, I let her have her way.”
Brooks also said the team considers aerobic work important (particularly in sets of descending repeats), but said Small’s training group works on race speed every day, usually with some shorter repeats aimed at combining technically sound strokes with a high rate of speed. “Good technique at pace is important,” he says, “since we don’t aim to be pretty but slow.”
That philosophy is obviously working for Small. She isn’t usually the tallest swimmer in the pool – Brooks estimates his swimmer is somewhere around 5’6″ – but in junior meets so far this spring, no one has come up bigger than Small.