As the NCSA Junior National Championships rolled through night two, one thing became clear: this is not an “inferior” Junior National Championship meet. This one is every bit as fast as the one we saw last December in Knoxville.
The night started with a National Age Group Record from First Colony’s Simone Manuel in 47.73. That took down the 47.80 that the great Dagny Knutson swam back in 2008 (read more about that record here).
This is a big win for her; not just in that it is a victory, as she is already a USA Swimming Junior National Champion in long course from 2011. As good as that field was, though, this one may be even more of a confidence builder, as she raced some of the fastest high school sprinters we’ve ever seen.
Lia Neal is an Olympian, and she was 2nd in 47.91. Janet Hu holds the 50 yard freestyle National Age Group Record for 15-16′s. has now aged up, and was 3rd in 48.67. Kylie Stewart is not primarily a sprinter, but she proved to be on fire later in the night with a NAG Record of her own, and she was 4th in 48.98.
That final was huge, and deep, and Manuel conquered the lot of them. All of the finalists except for Neal and 5th-place finisher Nicole Stafford (49.35), both of whom are Stanford-bound, will be eligible to return and swim this race again next season.
The session was neatly bookended with National Age Group Records. On the opposite of Manuel’s swim in the 100 free, the 800 free relay from Nation’s Capital Swim Club broke the 15-18 National Age Group Record as well. That was led-off by a 1:35.34 from Andrew Seliskar, who was joined by Evin Rude, Grant Goddard, and Christoph Grimmett-Norris, who combined for a 6:31.62. The swim slashed over three seconds from the Mecklenburg Aquatic Club 6:34.8 done in 2009.
The Dayton Raiders took 2nd in 6:36.39, with Dynamo finishing 3rd in 6:36.96. Jack Conger anchored Rockville-Montgomery’s fourth-place relay in 1:35.22.
In between, as alluded to, Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart made it a third NAG Record for the day. This one came in the 200 backstroke, where she swam a 1:50.66. That broke the National Age Group Record of another legendary age grouper: Liz Pelton. Pelton swam a 1:50.72 in the 200 back in 2010, and is now the American Record holder in the same event.
Stewart ended up running away with the win, but there were some very good swimmers in this final as well. The runner-up was Janet Hu in 1:53.43 – a best time for her by more than a second. In 3rd was the Delaware Swim Team’s Kaitlyn Jones in 1:53.89; she’s a contender to win the title in the 200 IM later in the meet after breaking the National public high school record in that race at the Delaware State Championships.
She’s headed to Virginia next year, and Saint Andrews’ Tasija Karosas (1:55.49 – 4th) will head to Texas next season.
15-year old Becca Mann from the Clearwater Aquatic Team showed off even more versatility. She won the 1000 free on Tuesday, and was a best time of 1:57.19 for 7th place. Another 15-year old, Asia Seidt from the Lakeside Swim Team, was 9th in 1:55.77.
In the men’s version of that same race, Jack Conger won in 1:40.05. That’s not his best time, but having already been through the Winter Nationals season, and pretty recently his high school championship season, that’s still one heck of a time for a third championship meet in three months.
He and William Glass from City of Mobile (1:44.01) went 1-2 in this race, and both will train together next season at the University of Texas.
Robert Owen, who is headed to Virginia Tech, was 3rd in 1:44.61, just out-touching the Dayton Raiders’ Patrick Mulcare (1:44.63).
Andrew Jovanovic, another high school senior who’s staying close to home and going to Northwestern, won the B-Final in 1:44.51.
Earlier in the meet, Jovanovic won the A final of the 100 freestyle in 43.92. That’s his first time under 44 seconds, and also made him the only swimmer on the day to go under that same barrier. First Colony put another sprinter on the podium when Brett Pinfold took 2nd in this race in 44.10. That just out-touched Bolles’ Caeleb Dressel (44.11). USC-bound senior Reed Malone was 4th in 44.82, and Cannon Clifton was 5th in 44.91. Rounding out a top 6 under 45 seconds was Julian Ballestas from the Metro Aquatic Club in Miami with a 44.94.
The Lakeside Swim Team, who had a good second day of competition overall, got their first event win of the meet when 15-year old Kennedy Lohman swam a 1:00.81. That moves a relatively-unknown swimmer up to 11th on the all-time 15-16 age group list, and she’s still on the younger end of the age group. She’ll have a year now to drop a full second and get Megan Jendrick’s 13-year old NAG Record in the event.
Sara Borendame from Tucson Ford was 2nd in 1:02.11, and Sarah Kaunitz took 3rd in 1:02.13. This was a very tight final, down to USC commit Jamie Christy in 8th in 1:02.99. All but one swimmer improved from prelims to finals in the top-8, which speaks to the electric atmosphere of the meet. Olivia Anderson from the Aquajets won the B-Final in 1:01.63, the second-best time overall.
In the men’s 100 breaststroke, Andy Schuehler of the Jersey Wahoos took the win in 54.01. That’s an impressive time even without considering that he’d been no better than 55.6 coming into this meet. All of a sudden, this looks like a huge signing for Penn State: a program that is really in need of some new talent in its breaststroke group.
William Licon from Nitro in Austin, who will stay close and also swim for Texas next year (good day for Eddie Reese recruits on Wednesday) was 2nd in 54.78, and Max Williamson was 3rd in 54.87. That’s a big drop for the Stanford commit (Stanford recruits had a good day too), and should lead him into really good swims in the 200 breast, as well as the IM’s, where he’s even better.
In the 200 fly, the last individual event of the day, Mount Pleasant, South Carolina swimmer Megan Kingsley won in 1:56.25, besting Becca Mann (1:57.23) and Nicole Stafford (1:58.09).
Michael Domagala from Asphalt Green won the men’s 200 fly in 1:45.29, which destroyed his lifetime best (by two-and-a-half seconds) from just a few weeks ago. If we see anywhere near that improvement on his lifetime best in the 200 free, it could result in some scary times.
Malone took 2nd in 1:45.55, and Robert McHugh of the Baylor Swim Club was 3rd in 1:45.80. Joseph Bentz won the B-Final in 1:45.72.