Ranking The Top 10 Swims From The 2023 Winter Junior Championships

by Sean Griffin 0

December 14th, 2023 Junior Nationals, National, News


With the Winter Junior Championships wrapping up over the weekend, it’s time to take a look at the top 10 swims across the East and West sites in Columbus and Westmont. There were several standout swims throughout the four-day meet, including several National Age Group (NAG) and meet records going down.

10. Luca Battaglini – 19.06 50 Freestyle

One of the most underrated swims of the meet was Luca Battaglini’s 50 freestyle win in Columbus. The Cal commit claimed victory in a time of 19.06, coming within striking distance of becoming the third high schooler in history to crack the coveted 19-second barrier. Caeleb Dressel did it in 2013 and Ryan Hoffer did so in 2016, so it’s been over seven years since we’ve seen a high school athlete dip under the marker.

Battaglini had a great meet in Columbus, also clocking best times in the 100 free (42.88), 100 fly (46.04), and 100 back (46.64).

9. Alex Shackell – 49.49 100 Butterfly

During the third night of finals in Columbus, Alex Shackell obliterated her previous personal best en route to gold in the girls’ 100 fly. Stopping the clock in 49.49, the 17-year-old overtook her previous PB of 50.28 set in the prelims.

While it seems crazy that a time of 49.49 in the 100 fly would only rank 9th on this list, each of the other top eight swims represented NAG records.

Shackell has dropped nearly 1.5 seconds in the event within the last month. She dropped half a second in November to clock 50.47 before lowering that mark in prelims at this meet (50.28).

Splits Comparison:

Shackell New Best Time (Final) Shackell in Prelims Shackell Previous Best (November 2023)
23.03 23.52 23.6
26.46 26.76 26.87
49.49 50.28 50.47

Although only flat-start (relay lead-offs & individuals) swims were considered for this list, Shackell’s 21.95 50 butterfly split from the first day of the meet deserves a mention. With the split, she became the third-fastest in history, sitting only behind Gretchen Walsh and Maggie MacNeil – two swimmers who have won multiple NCAA titles.

8. Thomas Heilman – 19.26 50 Freestyle (=15-16 NAG Record)

On the second night of competition over at the East side in Columbus, Thomas Heilman was the runner-up in the boys’ 50 freestyle, matching the decade-old 15-16 NAG record in the event. His time of 19.26 equalled the mark posted by Michael Andrew in 2015. With his swim, Heilman also tore apart his previous best time of 19.61 from the preliminary session.

7. Thomas Heilman – 1:40.73 200 Butterfly (15-16 NAG Record)

On the final night in Columbus, Thomas Heilman clipped his previous 15-16 NAG record in the 200 butterfly from last year. He lowered the mark by 0.13, and took the race out through the 150 over half a second faster under record pace. His final 50 was what closed the margin between the two swims, as it was nearly four-tenths slower than last year.

Splits Comparison:

Heilman New Record: Heilman Old Record:
22.47 22.66
48.03 (25.56) 48.31 (25.65)
1:13.89 (25.86) 1:14.39 (26.08)
1:40.73 (26.84) 1:40.86 (26.47)

6. Thomas Heilman – 1:32.46 200 Freestyle (15-16 NAG Record)

On day one of the East meet, Heilman led off the Cavalier Aquatics’ boys’ 800 freestyle relay in a time of 1:32.46. His swim established a new 15-16 NAG record in the 200 free by a large margin, eclipsing the 1:33.07 posted by Maximus Williamson one year ago. Heilman’s swim also demolished his previous best time of 1:34.10 in the event.

Splits Comparison:

Heilman New Record: Williamson Old Record:
21.26 21.51
44.59 (23.33) 45.05 (23.54)
1:08.40 (23.81) 1:09.19 (24.14)
1:32.46 (24.06) 1:33.07 (23.88)

5. Maximus Williamson – 1:41.18 200 IM (17-18 NAG Record)

The next two swims on our list are the 200 IM NAG records that fell over the course of the week. It was a tough choice between #4 and #5 on this list, given the swims were separated by just a few tenths but are in different age groups (although the two athletes are similar in age and are in the same recruiting class).

We ultimately decided on #5 being the 1:41.18 200 IM from Maximus Williamson, who lowered the legendary David Nolan record from 2011. With his swim, Williamson also eclipsed the 1:42.08 marker he put on the board in Austin last year.

Splits Comparison:

Williamson New Record: Nolan Old Record:
21.79 22.07
46.19 (24.40) 46.99 (24.92)
1:16.97 (30.78) 1:16.75 (29.76)
1:41.18 (24.21) 1:41.39 (24.64)

4. Thomas Heilman – 1:41.41 200 IM (15-16 NAG Record)

On the second night of competition over in Columbus, Thomas Heilman lowered his own 15-16 NAG record by three-tenths in the 200 IM. He stopped the clock in 1:41.41, overtaking his 1:41.71 from exactly one year ago. His improvement stemmed from a much faster first 100, before a slightly slower closing 100. His opening butterfly split was the main contributor to the new record, as he opened exactly half a second faster.

While this swim was slightly slower than the 1:41.18 recorded by Williamson, this was the 15-16 NAG record while the slightly faster time from Williamson was in an older age group.

Splits Comparison:

Heilman New Record: Heilman Old Record:
21.65 22.15
46.87 (25.22) 47.64 (25.49)
1:17.08 (30.21) 1:17.83 (30.19)
1:41.41 (24.33) 1:41.71 (23.88)

3. Maximus Williamson – 1:31.37 200 Freestyle (17-18 NAG Record)

On the penultimate night in Westmont, Maximus Williamson shattered his own 17-18 NAG record en route to the win in the boys’ 200 freestyle. It was a two-day old record, as he opened the competition on day one with a time of 1:32.00 on a relay lead-off, which clipped 18 one-hundredths off the previous record of 1:32.18 set by Maxime Rooney in 2017.

Williamson dropped more than six-tenths in a matter of two days, simply by taking the first 150 out slightly easier before coming home nearly a full second faster on the final 50:

Splits Comparison:

Williamson New Record: Williamson 2-Day Old Record: Rooney Old Record:
21.37 21.03 21.41
44.60 (23.23) 44.31 (23.28) 44.63 (23.22)
1:08.16 (23.56) 1:07.96 (23.65) 1:08.32 (23.69)
1:31.37 (23.21) 1:32.00 (24.04) 1:32.18 (23.86)

2. Alex Shackell – 1:50.15 200 Butterfly (17-18 NAG Record)

In the final individual event of the meet, Carmel’s Alex Shackell clocked a time of 1:50.15 to take down the 17-18 NAG record in the girls’ 200 butterfly. Shackell, who only recently turned 17, took down the previous mark of 1:50.85 established by Claire Curzan in April 2022.

Splits Comparison:

Shackell New Record: Curzan Old Record:
24.14 24.48
51.61 (27.47) 52.32 (27.89)
1:20.05 (28.44) 1:20.68 (28.31)
1:50.15 (30.10) 1:50.85 (30.17)

With her swim, Shackell became the fifth-fastest performer of all-time in the event – sitting just behind the 1:49.95 posted by Emma Sticklen en route to winning the NCAA title this year.

Top 5 Performers in History:

  1. Regan Smith – 1:48.33
  2. Ella Eastin – 1:49.51
  3. Elaine Breeden – 1:49.92
  4. Emma Sticklen – 1:49.95
  5. Alex Shackell – 1:50.15

1. Charlotte Crush – 49.53 100 Backstroke (15-16 NAG Record)

On the second night of the competition over in Columbus, Charlotte Crush led off Lakeside’s 400 medley relay in a time of 49.53 to set the 15-16 NAG record in the 100 back. Crush took down the previous mark of 50.03, which Claire Curzan put on the books back in 2021. Crush split 23.87/25.66 en route to establishing the new mark before swimming a swift 50.23 in the individual final later in the meet.

While setting the 15-16 NAG record is beyond impressive, what is even more stunning is that at the age of 15, she ranks 2nd among 15-18 swimmers. This past February, 18-year-old Curzan clocked a time of 49.46 at the PAC-12 Championships to break the 17-18 NAG, and Crush is only 0.07 off the mark despite being four years younger.

Splits Comparison:

Crush New Record: Curzan Old Record:
23.87 24.51
25.66 25.52
49.53 50.03

U.S. 15-18 Girls’ Top 5:

  1. Claire Curzan – 49.46
  2. Charlotte Crush – 49.53
  3. Regan Smith – 49.66
  4. Phoebe Bacon – 50.39
  5. Reilly Tiltmann – 50.42

In addition to her 100 back, it’s worth mentioning Crush’s 50 back relay opener on night one of the competition. While most of that first night in Columbus was overshadowed by the 50 fly/200 free relay double by Alex Shackell, Crush split 23.32 to open the Lakeside 200 medley relay. Her split would’ve ranked 3rd out of the top eight teams in the 200 medley relay at the Women’s NCAA Championships last season, showcasing just how much speed she has at 15.

Honorable Mentions

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