Presenting our Weekly Wonders from the weekend of February 8th-10th, 2019:
Peyton Ward, 16, Greater Philadelphia Aquatic Club (GPAC-MA): 100 back, 52.74 – Going into 2018, Ward had never been under 58.36 in the 100 back, and he remained that way until October when he dropped down to 55.80. In November, he went 54.57, then in December, 53.33. He dropped another few tenths around the turn of the new year, then broke 53 last Saturday morning (52.98). Later that same day, Ward dropped his time down further, to 52.74.
Kaia Li, 15, Palo Alto Stanford Aquatic Club (PASA-PC): 400 IM, 4:23.14 – At the 2019 DART Superleague meet last weekend, Li dropped nearly two seconds off her previous best time, which was from 10 months ago. That time (4:25.97) was from a finals swim in April, and it prelims that same day, she had gone then-best of 4:28.34 – so make it a five-second drop since April. At the same meet, she also went a best time in the 200 back (2:05.16) and 100 breast (1:04.59).
Maren Conze, 14, Nation’s Capital Swim Club (NCAP-PV): 500 free, 4:53.64 – In March 2018, Conze was 5:05.24 in the 500 free. She broke 5:00 for the first time in December, going 4:58.37 and then later 4:56.74 the same day. She dropped two tenths more in January, and then last weekend, took off three seconds to go 4:53.64. She also went a best time in her 50 free (24.80) and 100 fly (1:00.78) at the 2019 PV Presidents Day Classic.
Colby Hughes, 14, South Bay Aquatics (SBA-SI): 200 fly, 1:57.48 – Hughes broke 2:00 in the 200 fly for the first time in early November 2018. At the time, he dropped from 2:01.83 to 1:59.52. Then in December, Hughes dropped another second-and-a-half, going 1:57.85. After jumpeing back up to 2:02 in January, Hughes brought it all the way back down to 1:57.48 last weekend. He also went a best in his 200 free (1:48.48), 500 free (4:46.33), 1,000 free (9:46.20), and 400 IM (4:14.60).
Nick Vance, 17, West Chicago Sharks (WCS-IL): 100 breast, 56.99 – Vance’s began 2018 having never broken 1:00 in the 100 breast. Just four days into the year, he went 58.56, and then in July went 58.50. He then dropped a full second in November 2018, going 57.48, Last weekend, he squeaked just under :57, going 56.99. He also went a best in the 200 fly, 1:47.84, at the 2019 ILOP WCS February Frenzy.
Taisei Saito, 12, Blast Sharks (SHRK-CA): 100 free, 51.43 – Seito closed out 2018 with a 53.94 in the 100 free – but even more impressive, he ended 2017 with a 57.54. Saito continued to make big drops in 2019, starting off the year with a 1.5-second drop, going 51.43.
Paul Warnagiris, 13, Winchester Swim Team (WST-VA): 200 IM, 2:02.50 – At the end of January 2018, Warnagiris’ best time in the 200 IM was 2:07.85. He dropped it to 2:07.74, and then 2:05.87, in March. He held steady there until the new year, going 2:04.38 at the end of January. Then, just two weeks later, Warnagiris dropped nearly two more seconds to go 2:02.50; the time made him the fastest 13-year-old in the nation last weekend. At the same meet, he went an additional best time in the 200 free (1:50.73).
Reminder: The Weekly Wonders column is a celebration of age-group swimming, where new champions are made every day. Anyone can look up the top swims of the week. That’s not what we’re doing here. If we were only reporting on the week’s top swims we would feature the same handful of athletes every Wednesday. Instead, this is an opportunity to introduce the swimming community to athletes who have made great strides in the context of their own particular swimming worlds. By association, it also celebrates their coaches and their teams. The Weekly Wonders column, therefore, amounts to a pat on the back for a job well done, and hopefully encourages swimmers of all levels to continue to reach from within to get to that next level.
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