Caeleb Dressel and Madison Kennedy won the headlining 50 free sprint shootouts at the JAX 50 meet in Florida over the weekend.
The JAX 50 meet brings in a platoon of pro sprint swimmers to compete in a tournament bracket of 1-on-1 50 yard freestyle shootouts, with the winners moving further on in the tournament. Dressel won his first JAX 50 title in the 50 free, while Kennedy returned to the throne for the first time since 2014.
The 50 free shootout was conducted in yards, though the Friday session of the meet was long course meters with a full event lineup. You can find full results here.
- Madison Kennedy 22.23 – Abi Wilder 24.71
- Jules Woody 22.88 – Kirschtine Balbuena 23.81
- Daiane Becker 23.20 – Isabel Ivey 23.22
- Kira Toussaint 22.59 – Claire Maiocco 23.59
The women’s bracket opened up with three relative blowouts and one extremely tight battle. Madison Kennedy, who won this event three years ago, started it off with a blazing 22.23 to top Abi Wilder‘s 24.71. Wilder is a high school senior for the Bolles School Sharks who will compete for Auburn next season.
Savannah College of Art and Design’s NAIA standout Jules Woody won a showdown with another Florida high school sprinter: Kirschtine Balbuena, a current junior who competes for Gator Swim Club.
Easily the closest opening matchup was Brazilian World Champs team member Daiane Becker (de Oliveira) against 16-year-old Gator Swim Clubber Isabel Ivey. Becker was 23.20 to touch out Ivey’s 23.22.
Finally, Tennessee Volunteer (and former FGCU star) Kira Toussaint went 22.59 to beat 18-year-old Claire Maiocco of Trinity Prep by exactly one second.
- Kennedy 22.08 – Woody 23.14
- Toussaint 22.55 – Becker 23.68
- Balbuena 23.79 – Wilder 24.94
- Maiocco 23.58 – Ivey 23.65
Kennedy blasted a 22.08 to win her second-round match convincingly. Toussaint also dropped time from her first effort, beating Brazil’s Becker by a second.
An all-teenager consol bracket produced some thrilling finishes, most notably the 18-year-old Maiocco’s .07 win over 16-year-old Ivey. Meanwhile 16-year-old Balbuena topped 17-year-old Wilder.
- Kennedy 21.76 – Toussaint 22.40
Bronze Medal Match:
- Woody 23.10 – Becker 23.96
- Balbuena 23.72 – Maiocco 24.04
- Ivey 24.08 – Wilder 24.64
Toussaint continued to get faster with each round, but was no match for Kennedy, who did the same and actually dropped a 21.79 in the final. That’s the third-best swim of her career, and just a tenth off her own lifetime-best of 21.68 from the year 2015.
Woody topped Becker for bronze by about eight tenths, while the consol bracket finishes were once again close. Balbuena won that group overall, beating Maiocco 23.72 to 24.04.
- Caeleb Dressel 19.71 – Isaac Davis 20.49
- Cullen Jones 19.82 – Nicolas Nilo 20.17
- Josh Schneider 19.98 – Will Davis IV 20.26
- Simonas Bilis 19.90 – Joel Ax 20.60
Dressel was the top seed, coming in with the American record time and coming off a banner junior season for the University of Florida. He cruised to the top time of the first round, beating 17-year-old Isaac Davis. Like Dressel was, Davis is a Bolles School prospect and has verbally committed to Florida. He’ll join the Gators in the fall of 2018, right after Dressel’s graduation.
2008 and 2012 Olympian Cullen Jones went 19.82 to win his opening round. At 32, he was the oldest man in the shootout by three years. In round 1, he actually beat the second-oldest swimmer: Brazilian Olympian Nicolas Oliveira, competing as Nicolas Nilo as he did during his college career.
Nilo is 29 and will turn 30 in four months. Fellow 29-year-old Josh Schneider also won an opening-round fight. The 2014 and 2015 JAX 50 winner, Schneider was crafty with his first swim, doing only what he needed to to win. His 19.98 was the slowest opening round winning time, but with two more rounds to go, Schneider was saving valuable energy. He beat Will Davis, the brother of Isaac Davis who will also join Florida in 2018.
Finally, NC State grad and Lithuanian Olympian Simonas Bilis topped Joel Ax for the final win. Bilis was part of NC State’s NCAA explosion over the past few years, while Ax was an NAIA standout for the Savannah College of Art and Design who hails from Germany.
- Dressel 19.17 – Jones 19.33
- Schneider 19.53 – Bilis 19.65
- Nilo 20.10 – I. Davis 20.54
- W. Davis 20.29 – Ax 20.92
The speed really started to come out in round 2, with Dressel edging out Jones by .16 in a battle of U.S. Olympic gold medalists. Schneider once again sealed a narrow win over Bilis as both NC State alums fell in the semis.
- Dressel 19.29 – Schneider 19.48
Bronze Medal Match:
- Jones 19.57 – Bilis 19.73
- W. Davis 20.14 – Nilo 20.29
- I. Davis 20.74 – Ax 21.02
Schneider continued to get faster with each round, but it wasn’t enough to track down Dressel, who served a blistering 19.29 to win the title. He becomes the second Dressel to win this tournament after his sister Sherridon won the women’s title last year.
In the battle of former NC State standouts, Jones topped Bilis for 3rd, while the Davis brothers won their consolation bracket swims.