Isabella Rongione Youngest Swimmer at Nationals, Erndl Oldest

Isabella Rongione from the Fish swim team in Virginia will be the youngest swimmer swimmer at next week’s USA Swimming National Championships and World Championship Trials in Indianapolis, Indiana.

But not by much.

Rongione, who is a rising distance star and a multi-time National Age Group Record breaker will be 13 years, 8 months, and 11 days old when the meet starts next week, which is 6 days younger than another star-in-the-making Cassidy Bayer from the Nation’s Capital Aquatic Club (not too far away, either).

Neither swimmer is just coming along for the ride, either; Rongione is seeded 9th in the women’s 1500 free (though it will be a tall order for her to final) and 17th in the 800 free, while Bayer is seeded as high as 21st out of 35 in the 200 fly.

Both girls will age up in September, with Bayer’s birthday falling on September 9th (9-9-99) and Rongione’s coming the week after on September 15th.

On the men’s side of the meet, things have gotten a little younger than at the Olympic Trials; unlike in Omaha, there will be a 14-year old there, and it’s not the one you might guess. Clearwater distance National Age Group Record breaker Matthew Hirschberger has qualified to swim both the men’s 800 and 1500, though this will largely be a big learning opportunity as he is the last seed in each.

The oldest swimmers, meanwhile, will still be significantly younger than what we saw at last year’s Olympic Trials. There will be no 45-year old Dara Torres, no 40-year old Janet Evans, no 40-year old Erika Braun, and no 40-year old Steve West.

Instead, this year, the oldest woman will be T2’s Erika Erndl, who is entered in a stunning six events at 35 years old. She is seeded 6th in the 100 fly and 13th in the 100 free, which are her two best opportunities to qualify for Barcelona, though she’s really improved her 200 IM and is seeded 10th there as well. What’s really impressive about her six-events in five-days schedule is that all six of them are Olympic events, so she’s not just loaded up on 50’s.

The next two oldest are Randall Bal (November 14th, 1980) and Anthony Ervin (May 26th, 1981), who will both be 32 years old when the meet starts.

The average age of swimmers at this meet (counting out whole years only) comes out to about 19.7 years old.

Below is a table of the youngest and oldest qualifiers on the list. There are a total of 24 swimmers under the age of 16 among the 458 entered.

Name Age Club
Cassidy Bayer 13 Nation’s Capital  
Isabella Rongione 13 The Fish  
Claire Adams 14 Carmel Swim Club 
Kendall Brent 14 Swim Florida  
Megan Byrnes 14 Nation’s Capital  
Matthew Hirschberger 14 Clearwater Aquat  
Emily Meilus 14 Nation’s Capital  
Amy Bilquist 15 Scottsdale Aquat  
Katherine Drabot 15 Ozaukee Aquatics  
Erin Emery 15 Sandpipers Of Ne 
Brad Gonzales 15 Irvine Novaquatics  
Elise Haan 15 T2 Aquatics  
Kaitlin Harty 15 Greenwood Memori  
Cassandra Jernberg 15 Schroeder YMCA  
Kennedy Lohman 15 Lakeside Swim  
Rebecca Mann 15 Clearwater Aquat  
Katie McLaughlin 15 Mission Viejo  
Courtney Mykkanen 15 Irvine Novaquatics  
Destiny Nelson 15 Frisco Aquatics  
Mary Pelton 15 North Baltimore  
Asia Seidt 15 Lakeside Swim  
Alexandra Szekely 15 Central Bucks  
Lilly Vivado 15 Bluefish Swim  
Elizabeth Zeiger 15 Bluefish Swim  
Natalie Coughlin 30 California Aquat  
Mark Gangloff 31 New York Athleti 
Randall Bal 32 Arden Hills Swim SN/NYAC
Anthony Ervin 32 California Aquat  
Erika Erndl 35 T2 Aquatics  

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bobo gigi

I believe I’ve already said that yesterday. Happy to see I was right.


Impressive to be swimming at that level at the age of 35. There’s also a 37-year old, Heidi George, who is near the top in open water and was at open water trials. Having reached that age myself it seems hard to believe these women can still compete at that level. There’s a vast difference between being in really excellent shape for a 35-year old, and swimming at World Championships Trials level.

C Martin

New England Swimming is being represented very well by the youngins’ at Trials this year (Kaitlin Harty, Ryan Harty, Lilly Vivado, Elizabeth Zeiger, Liam Egan, etc.).

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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