Several groups of U.S. age groupers headed to Veracruz, Mexico for the 2014 North American Challenge Cup last Friday through Sunday.
The US contingent were selected 11-18-year-olds from Southern California Swimming, NorCal’s Pacific Swimming LSC and Gulf Swimming in Texas. Gulf Swimming is the newcomer to the meet, replacing Pacific Northwest, last year’s hosts.
The meet took place in Veracruz, where Mexico will host the Central America and Caribbean Games this coming November, the country’s biggest international meet of the year.
On the girls’ side, SoCal 15-year-old Kenisha Liu was the headliner, picking up 5 wins in the 15-16 division. Liu ruled the middle distance freestyles as well as the breaststrokes on the weekend. She won the 100, 200 and 400 frees, going 59.00, 2:03.79 and 4:26.33, while also taking both breaststroking distance with a 1:13.67 in the 100 and a 2:36.36 in the 200.
One age group down, SoCal’s Jessica Epps and Vicky Navarro were the big stars, winning three apiece. Epps won the 200 and 400 IMs, plus the 100 free. The 14-year-old cracked five minutes in the longest of those races, going 4:59.31. She was 59.01 in the 100 free and 2:24.68 in the 200 IM. Navarro, meanwhile completed a freestyle triple, winning the 200 (2:05.69), 400 (4:25.78) and 800 (9:15.55) frees.
Also in the 15-16s, Aislinn Light and Alexis Margett each won three times, with Light taking the 50 free/100 back/200 back combo and Margett winning the 100 and 200 fly plus the 200 IM.
The host country got its biggest contribution from 18-year-old Sofia Descombes Sanchez, who won three in the 17-18s. She won the 200 breast (2:44.64), 100 free (59.14) and 200 IM (2:25.73) over the course of the three days. Another 17-18 triple-winner was 17-year-old Megan Merlihan, who wrapped up her own distance free sweep with wins in the 200, 400 and 800. Her times were 2:08.79/4:25.98/9:17.25, respectively.
On the boys’ side, there was a spirited battle in the 13-14s between SoCal’s Hunter Hitchens and Pacific Coast’s Lyon Zhang, with Hitchens winding up with 5 individual wins and Zhang four. Hitchens ruled the freestyles, taking the 50, 100, 200 and 1500 while taking second in the 400. He was 25.45/54.40/1:58.66/17:00.74 in those free races and also went 58.44 to win the 100 fly on opening day.
Zhang, meanwhile, swept the breaststrokes and IMs. He was 2:10.80 and 4:29.85 in the IMs, and added a 1:06.21 in the 100 breast and a 2:23.30 in the 200.
In the 11-12s, SoCal’s Rick Corrieu and Noah Brune each won a pair, with Corrieu taking the 50 and 200 free and Brune winning the 400 free and 200 fly.
SoCal 15-year-old Tim Hanson won four in the 15-16 group. His 4:32.94 won the 400 IM on day 1, and he added the 400 free (4:05.92) and 200 fly (2:06.06) on day 2 and the 1500 free (16:15.60) on day 3.
Full results are available on Meet Mobile under “Copa Challenge de America del Norte 2014.”