MP Weekly Wonders of Age Group Swimming – 3/14/2018

Here are the Weekly Wonders for the weekend of March 9-11, 2018:

Maddy Parker, 13, Utah Valley Aquatics: 50y free (24.69) – Parker dropped 4/10 in the 50 free to drop under 25 seconds for the first time and win the girls’ 13-14 50 free at the Utah Short Course Age Group Championships. She is now 1.2 seconds faster than she was a year ago. Parker also won the 200 back and 200 IM, the latter of which was with a new PB.

Sophia Lee, 11, Dolphins Swim Team (Oakville, Ontario, Canada): 100y free (53.33) – Lee, who swims for Team Dolphins in Canada and is part of the Niagara Swimming LSC, won the 100 free, 100 free, 200 back, and 200 IM at the Niagara LSC Short Course Championships. Her 100 free time, a PB by 0.30, ranks #1 in the U.S. for her age group. She also earned new PBs in the 200/500 free, 100/200 back, and 200 IM. She is currently #2 in the 50/200 free, and 200 IM and #4 in the 100/200 back; she holds the Niagara LSC record in the 200 IM.

Abby Dunford, 12, Tiger Aquatics: 200y free (1:54.26) – Competing at the 2018 Louisiana 12 & Under State Championships, Dunford dropped 1.8 seconds in the 200 free to win the girls’ 11-12 event by 7 seconds. That makes her 10.8 seconds faster than she was a year ago. Dunford also won the 100 free, 50/100 back, 50 fly, and 100 IM, and took home new times in the 100/200 free, 50/100 back, 50 fly, and 100 IM.

Martina Thomas, 18, Razorback Aquatic Club Aquahawgs: 500y free (4:47.79) – Just 1 month after dropping 3.1 to earn her first Winter Juniors cut, Thomas, a Navy commit, dropped 4.8 seconds to win the 500 free at Columbia Sectionals. She snagged an invite to Summer Juniors and improved 19.5 seconds from where she was a year ago. Thomas also won the 100 free and 200 free and left the meet with new times in the 50/100/200/500 free, 100 back, and 100 fly.

Jacob Bening, 16, River City Aquatics: 100y back (50.20) – Also swimming at Columbus Sectionals, Bening lopped 8/10 off his 100 back time to snag his first Winter Juniors invite with a 7th-place finish in the men’s A final. Bening is 1.8 seconds faster than he was last year at this time. He also went PBs in the 50 free, 200 back, and 50 fly.

Ella Menear, 12, Club Mountaineer Aquatics: 100y back (59.98) – Menear swam her first sub-1:00 100 back at the West Virginia Short Course Championships, dropping 1.8 seconds to go 5.4 seconds faster than she was a year ago. She won the 50 back (meet record), 100 back (meet record), 200 back (meet record), and 100 IM, and finished the weekend with new times in the 50/200 free, 50/100/200 back, 100 fly, and 100/200 IM.

Taylor Steele, 17, Coastal Aquatic Club: 100y breast (1:01.84) – To be perfectly honest, we never write about someone twice in the same season on purpose. But Taylor Steele has had an incredible year and it’s worth noting. At the Cary Sectionals hosted by TAC Titans, she swam her third 1:01 100 breast in a month; a year ago her best time was 1:05. The 1:01.84 in Cary was her second-best time ever and landed her a bronze medal. She won the 200 breast with 2:14.30, a PB by 2.4 seconds and a U.S. Open time standard.

Essias Smith, 14, Mesa Aquatics Club: 100y fly (50.31) – Smith notched a PB by 6/10 at the Arizona Short Course Age Group Championships hosted by Flying Fish Arizona Swim Team. He won the 100/200 free and 100 fly, and was runner-up in the 100 back and 200 fly. Smith is now 4.6 seconds faster than he was at this time last year. He also went best times in the 100/200 free, 100 back, 200 fly, and 200 IM.


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.



Launched in the spring of 2015, MP designed by Aqua Sphere is a shared vision to develop innovative products that are inclusive and accessible to a broader range of swimmers across the full swimming lifecycle. Combining Aqua Sphere’s global product design expertise and distribution with Michael Phelps’ and Bob Bowman’s experiences at the highest levels of swim performance, the MP brand features technical swim products leveraging proprietary technologies and performance enhancing designs.


Established in Genoa, Italy, in 1998, Aqua Sphere is the premier swimming equipment manufacturer for fitness and recreational swimming, aquatic exercise and triathlons. With the launch of its cutting-edge Seal Mask—the world’s first swim mask, the company set the industry standard and today continues to innovate with a complete range of premium products, including eye protection, swimwear, triathlon wetsuits, footwear, and swim fitness and training accessories. The designs have gained the respect and loyal following of many celebrities and notable athletes, including the world’s most decorated Olympian Michael Phelps, with whom Aqua Sphere is partnering to develop a global brand partnership. Alongside its parent company Aqua Lung and supported by an international distribution network, Aqua Sphere has grown into a worldwide enterprise representing unparalleled design, development and manufacturing expertise, with a global footprint in more than 90 countries. For more information, visit or


Aqua Lung pioneered the creation of modern diving equipment in 1943 when Captain Jacques-Yves Cousteau teamed with Emile Gagnan to develop the first “aqua-lung” that made underwater exploration possible. Today, the brand continues to be the leading global designer and manufacturer of dive and water sports gear. With a deep commitment to quality, research and testing, Aqua Lung has revolutionized the scuba diving experience by setting industry standards for scuba equipment in technology, comfort, safety and design. The company’s rich history as an expert in the dive and water sports industry has led to the demand of Aqua Lung equipment for recreational, technical and military applications in more than 90 countries around the world, under the brand names of Aqua Lung, Aqua Sphere, Apeks, U.S. Divers, and Stohlquist. For more information, visit or


Leave a Reply

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

About Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant

Anne Lepesant is the mother of four daughters, all of whom swam in college. With an undergraduate degree from Princeton (where she was an all-Ivy tennis player) and an MBA from INSEAD, she worked for many years in the financial industry, both in France and the U.S. Anne is currently …

Read More »