The 2011 Winter Junior National Championships wrapped up on Saturday in Austin, Texas, with maybe the most exciting night of finals yet.
Georgia commit Matias Koski kicked off the night’s record-breaking swims with the first sub-15 minute swim in his career, by touching for the win (and a new Meet Record) of 14:55.32. Even before this race, Koski was already recognized for having huge versatility, but with that monster of a mile, a 17-second personal best, he becomes Ryk-Neethling-esque in his versatility (Neethling won major international medals in every freestyle distance from 100 meters through 1500 meters in his career). That 14:55 from Koski would have placed 13th at NCAA’s last year.
The old record holder Evan Pinion (at 15:02 from last year) finished runner-up this year in a 15:12.41. This race wasn’t all that competitive, with the bronze medal going to Rodney Fentress in 15:17.77.
In the women’s version of the same race, Bolles’ Ashley Neidigh dropped 10 seconds to take a win in 16:13.50. Unlike the men’s race, this was a very tight race, with Neidigh and runner-up Leah Stevens of the Lakeside Swim Team holding within a second of each other, one way or the other, through the first 1400 yards. After holding a slight lead throughout most of the race, it didn’t take Stevens long to fall well back of the champion, and she ultimately finished 2nd in 16:16.13.
Michigan Lakeshore’s Courtney Bartholomew completed her three-year backstroke sweep by winning the 200 in 1:53.70. Though she didn’t break a meet record this time, as she had in 4 of the 5 previous title swims, she now has won the last three Winter Junior National titles in both the 100 and 200 backstrokes.
Bartholomew will be headed off to Virginia next fall, so this will likely be the end of her run, but 15-year old Dynamo Swim Club’er Kylie Stewart is ready to pick up the torch (at least in the 200) with a 1:54.30 for the silver. Jillian Vitarius out of Blue Tide in Houston took 3rd in 1:55.17, and will begin her collegiate career in Auburn.
Jacob Pebley and Ryan Murphy have been the two stars of this meet on the men’s side, and it was a fitting end for both to end their individual runs in a head-to-head showdown in the 200 back, which is both swimmers’ best event. Pebley took the lead out to a big 1.5 second lead through 150 yards, but on the final lap the younger Murphy pushed hard to chase him down.
At the touch, however, Pebley was able to hold on to two-tenths of that lead and touch first in 1:40.79 which blew away, by two seconds, his record from last year’s meet. Murphy also beat the previous record with a 1:40.90.
Though the 16-year old Murphy will not actually move through with a meet record, he did earn himself a 3rd National Age Group record with that swim. That obliterates the old National Age Group record set by Jack Conger last year at 1:43.16. For both swimmers, their swims bettered the 3rd-place swim from last year’s NCAA Championships. Pebley was just about a tenth shy of a 17-18 NAG record of his own. It will be awesome to see these two hookup again in college races in the future.
Lindsay McKnight continued her great comeback meet with a 49.30 win in the 100 free. That’s her second victory of the meet. 15-year old Hershey star Meaghan Raab took 2nd in 49.80, and Fort Worth Aquatic’s Julia Anderson matched her long course bronze by touching 3rd in this race in 49.94.
Also dipping under the 50-second mark was 14-year old Katrina Konopka of Y-Spartaquatics in 49.99. That adds her to a list of only 12 swimmers of that age to dip under the 50-second mark in the last decade, and puts her on a list along with a huge line of swimmers – including Franklin, Beisel, Weir, Pelton, Romano, and Beck.
Cal’s Kelly Naze touched 5th in 50.11. This freestyle events are the weakest for the very-versatile Naze, but she is making small improvements.
New Canaan’s Kaylin Moss made big improvements in her short course 100 breast (she’s been much better long than short to this point in her career), but didn’t see quite the same jump in the 200. Though it wasn’t her best time, her 2:12.86 win was good enough to earn a gold medal (as compared to her silver in the event in long course). The runner-up was15-year old Maija Roses of SwimMAC Carolina.
Annie Lazor of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Atlantis (in Michigan) took 3rd in 2:14.01. That will be a huge boost for her future Ohio State teammates, and she will likely come to campus as already the best Buckeye in the event.
In 4th place was the latest addition to the Bolles Swim School squad, 14-year old Samantha Ginn of Singapore. She swam a 2:14.53 in her first meet in the United States, and the coaching staff at Bolles should be able to take her performances to even greater heights.
Nitro’s William Licon won the men’s 200 breaststroke in 1:58.08, followed by IM’er Gunnar Bentz continuing to show his versatility with a runner-up placing of 1:59.30. Future Auburn Tiger Jordan Jones was 3rd in 2:00.20.
15-year old Curtis Ogren, who we saw have a great duel with Bentz in Friday’s 400 IM, was 6th in 2:01.80. This was an important swim for him, as the back-half (breaststroke and freestyle) is the part of his IM that he most needs to improve upon.
Olivia Barker won the 200 fly in 1:57.16. Heather Lundstrom took 2nd in 1:57.61, and Anna Patterson of the Cy-Fair Swim Club took 3rd in 1:58.99.
Joseph Schooling, another Singapore-born Bolles swimmer, won the men’s 200 fly in 1:45.08.Andrew Torres took 2nd in 1:45.92, with 3rd-place going to Chris Schaeffer in 1:46.41.
The Dynamo Swim Club quartet of Stewart, Kaitlin Kitchens, Haley Durmer, and Nicole Stafford won the women’s 400 free in 3:22.71.
And in the final race of the 2011 Junior Winter National Championships, SwimMAC Carolina handed Bolles their first boys’ relay loss of the entire meet, though only by a narrow .01 seconds. The group of Peter Brumm, Logan Heck, John Manchester, and Kyle Darmody swam a Meet Record of 2:56.93 for the win. That broke the 15-18 National Age Group Record in the event (all four swimmers were Americans, unlike the earlier Bolles relays that were actually faster than NAG records).
Darmody anchored in a 43.48 to chase down the Bolles anchor Caleb Dressel as the Sharks finished .01 back in 2:56.94.
There is a growing trend in swimming to put the best swimmer on the opening leg, rather than the closing leg, to get them a qualifying flat-start time (Bolles’ Murphy led off in 44.15). In this instance, where the veteran Darmody (he was a part of the American Junior Worlds squad) was up against the youngest member of the Bolles relay, the victory went to the much more experienced, which marks a tally for the old-school method of putting the best swimmer on the anchor leg.
The Bolles school dominated the men’s competition with 554 points, followed by SwimMAC with 310. The Dynamo Swim Club, who won the summer long course title, was 3rd here in 291, with the hometown Nitro in 4th with 189 points. Alamo, from nearby San Antonio, gave Texas two of the top 5 teams in the standings. One had to look all the way to 6th place to find the first California team – Crow Canyon.
On the women’s side, the Lindsey McKnight-led St. Andrew’s swimming took a much tigher victory with 288 points, and Dynamo was just behind in 271. Courtney Bartholomew and Michigan Lakeshore Aquatics were 3rd with 215. Rounding out the top 5 were SwimMAC (205) and Y-Spartaquatics (187).