How Meghan Small is coming up big for the York YMCA

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.

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Danjohnrob
6 years ago

Nice reporting, Jared! Actually, I didn’t realize Meghan is a junior; she’s doing so well with Michael Brooks that I’m glad she’ll be staying with him through Olympic Trials!

Queeny
6 years ago

Her training sounds a bit like USRPT

Reply to  Queeny
6 years ago

Please, let’s not have this debate again

🙂

bobo gigi
6 years ago
bobo gigi
6 years ago
bobo gigi
6 years ago
bobo gigi
6 years ago

Her 59.96 breaststroke relay split in the medley relay
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CLM08nKK3Oo

bobo gigi
6 years ago

Her 200 IM probably coming soon.

Danjohnrob
6 years ago

Thanks, Bobo! Do you think I’m crazy to hope she could make it to Rio in the 400 IM?

lIquidassets
Reply to  Danjohnrob
6 years ago

It’s not totally crazy, since the depth is less than her other events, but it’s just that getting past those top two Beisel and DiRado at the top of their game would be very difficult. Her chances might be slightly better in the 2IM since Beisel’s weaker in it, but she’d still have to get past two of Leverenz, Margalis, DiRado at the least, and probably others, maybe Baker, Li, assuming Pelton/Franklin don’t swim mit.

jim
Reply to  lIquidassets
6 years ago

I agree. Right now it’s like 2008 when Tyler Clary might’ve come in 3rd in the IM at the Olympics had he been eligible…but they only take 2, and Lochte and Phelps were dominating back then. Small certainly has the potential to be in the hunt…and with literally no weakness (I’d say her fly is her weakest stroke), she could do it. 2020 may be a better bet for her seeing as how she’ll just be finishing up her college career at that point.

One disadvantage she may have against the other two is that she trains in a short course pool year round. They might be able to go meters, but to not train long course for a meet… Read more »

bobo gigi
Reply to  Danjohnrob
6 years ago

0% of chances in the 400 IM
75% of chances in the 200 IM.
She was in 2.11.83 last summer and has improved a lot since then. No reason her progression stops until the olympic trials. She will have to swim 2.09 high/2.10 low to beat 2 girls out of the following 3: Leverenz, Margalis and DiRado. I don’t count on Pelton anymore. I wanted to see her train her breaststroke 24/7 all year but it didn’t happen. Baker? Too early in my opinion and I see her more like a short course swimmer for the moment. Hoff? I would be happy but it looks tough.

bobo gigi
Reply to  bobo gigi
6 years ago

Jim, she never trains in long course? All year? 😯
There isn’t any 50-meter pool in her area? 😯

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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