Liam Custer Sets New 500 Yard Free LSC Record: 4:18.49 in Sarasota

Florida Virtual Championships – Site 1 (Sarasota)

Following an eventful finals session yesterday, Sarasota Shark’s Liam Custer set a new LSC record in the 500 free today at 4:18.49. The 16-year-old dropped nearly 3 seconds and broke the 15-16 record, previously set by Nicholas Caldwell in 2010, by nearly 2 seconds. Caldwell also swam for the Sarasota Sharks and went on to compete as a part of the U.S. National Team and the Wisconsin Badgers. This time now ranks Custer as the 10th all-time fastest 15-16 year-old in the event, just behind Michael Phelps‘ 15-16 age group time of 4:18.12. 

Earlier, Custer placed 4th in the 200 IM with a time of 1:52.68, adding about 5 seconds to his lifetime best from the Florida FHSAA 4A Swim and Dive Championships in November. Ryan Lochte won the event, staying long and smooth on the front half, creating his lead on the breaststroke leg, and touching 1st at 1:48.36. This was about an 8 second add for the Lochte, but a time that easily claimed the top seed going into finals tonight. Stanford commit Hayden Kwan of United Swim Club snagged 2nd place  with a time of 1:51.47, about 2 seconds off of his lifetime best from the 2019 Florida 3A FHSAA Swim and Dive Championships.

Ryan Lochte is also the top seed going into the 100 back final tonight. The Olympic medalist posted a 48.17 in prelims, negative-splitting the race in 24.31 and 23.86. As a whole this time is about a 3.5 second add to his lifetime best from the 2006 DI NCAA Championships, but we are seeing some interesting race strategies from Lochte at this meet on his splits. Kwan touched in 2nd place again at 48.86, within .55 of his best time which he posted in July.

On the women’s side, U.S. National Team member Emma Weyant of the Sarasota Sharks followed up 4 lifetime bests yesterday with 2 prelims wins this morning. She had a slightly slower start to the meet than she did yesterday, as she won the 200 IM with a time of 1:59.53, and added about 1.5 seconds to her best from the FHSAA 4A State meet in 2018. She still remained well under the 2019 Summer Juniors cut of 2:00.59.

She had another solid swim in the 500 free, touching 1st at 4:41.97, and coming within 1.2 seconds of her lifetime best from her high school state meet in November, 2019. Weyant finished with more than a 7-second-lead over her 15-year-old teammate Michaela Mattes who touched the wall 2nd at 4:49.37 and added just over 3 seconds to her best time.

After snagging 2nd in the 200IM at 2:01.96, 16-year-old Natalie Mannion of the Sarasota Sharks took the 100 back in a time of 54.73, adding 1.6 seconds to her best time from December of 2019. Her 200 IM was off of her lifetime best, from the same meet.

Today is a massive sprint day in Sarasota as swimmers are racing the 50 breast, 50 fly, and 50 free. This morning, Sarasota Shark’s Eliza Brown dropped 1.6 seconds in the 50 breast, claiming 1st place with a time of 30.25. The 16-year-old’s best time was only 2 months old. On the men’s side, Gator Swim Club’s Nils Wich-Glasen took 1st with a time of 26.04, going 1-2 with his teammate Jonathan Tybur (26.53) like they did in the 100 breast final last night. Both men clocked faster times on their 50 breast splits last night, 25.46 for Wich-Glasen and 26.15 for Tybur.

In the women’s 50 fly, Moriah Freitas of Highlander Aquatic Club out touched Gator Swim Club’s Georgia Bates by .31 in the 50 fly for 1st place with a time of 25.29. This swim is significantly faster than the 100 fly finals splits of both swimmers last night (26.27 for Freitas and 26.19 for Bates.) The men’s race was even closer as Logan Thornsberry of West Florida Lightning Aquatics won the men’s 50 fly, out touching  16-year-old Jonathon Butler of Area Tallahassee Aquatic Club by .01 for a time of 23.89.

In the final sprint event of the morning, the 50 free, 16-year-old Michelle Cottle of Laker Swimming claimed 1st with a time of 23.92, ahead of 14-year-old Addison Sauickie of the Sarasota Sharks (24.18). This was about a .2 second add for both swimmers as Cottle’s best is from the Florida FHSAA 4A Swim and Dive Championships in November and Sauickie’s best is from March, pre-coronavirus pandemic. On the men’s side, 15-year-old Nicholas Cecchi of Southwest Stars swim Club touched the wall 1st in the men’s 50 free at 21.56, just before Butler at 21.68. This was exactly a .17 second add for both Cecchi, who’s best is also from the 2020 FHSAA 4A Championships, and Nicholas, who’s best is from September.

The Sarasota Sharks won the women’s 200 medley relay with a team of many prelims event winners, Mannion (25.57), Gracie Weyant (29.19), Sauickie (25.65), and Emma Weyant (23.63) for a final time of 1:44.04.

Sarasota Tsunami Swim Team men’s 200 medley relay of Evan Keogh (24.40), William Heary (25.81), Dimiter Zafirov (22.97), ad Ethan Jarr (21.71) touched the wall in 1st place with a time of 1:34.90. In 2nd was the Sarasota Sharks relay, which Custer anchored with the fastest split in the field of 20.66 despite the fact that he only had the women’s relay heats to rest after his 500.

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About Annika Johnson

Annika Johnson

Annika came into the sport competitively at age eight, following in the footsteps of her twin sister and older brother. The sibling rivalry was further fueled when all three began focusing on distance freestyle, forcing the family to buy two lap counters. Annika is a three-time Futures finalist in the 200 …

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