Sam Hoover Beats Baylor Nelson in Titanic 400 IM Battle in Cary, North Carolina

North Carolina 18 & Under Winter Championships

  • December 4-6, 2020
  • Triangle Aquatic Center, Cary, North Carolina
  • Short Course Yards (25 yard)
  • Live stream ($$)
  • Results on Meet Mobile: “2020 NCS Winter 18 & U Championships” (or search “Cary”)

A 400 IM battle between North Carolina Aquatic Club’s Sam Hoover and SwimMAC Carolina’s Baylor Nelson highlighted the first day of competition at North Carolina’s primary site for the 2020 USA Swimming 18 & Under Winter Championships.

Because of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, USA Swimming will be accepting any eligible results from any sanctioned meet between December 1 and December 13 to determine this year’s Winter 18 & Under Champions. USA Swimming encouraged LSCs to try and bring together their top athletes into one site, where possible, and North Carolina has done that in Cary.

In the 400 IM, senior NC State commit Sam Hoover won in 3:47.56. That’s a lifetime best for him by over 7 seconds, undercutting his previous sanctioned best of 3:55.17. Nelson was 2nd in 3:48.37, which is a best time for him by 3 seconds.

Nelson jumped out to a huge lead, ahead by more than 3-and-a-half seconds at the halfway mark, before Hoover fought back to win.

Splits Comparison:

Fly Split Back Split Breast Split Free Split Final Time
Sam Hoover 52.62 59.41 1:04.67 50.86 3:47.56
Baylor Nelson 51.4 56.94 1:06.51 53.52 3:48.37

For the uncommitted junior Nelson, who is ranked as the #2 recruit in the high school class of 2022, that swim is now the fastest in the class – ahead of a 3:48.49 done in Florida on Friday by Josh Zuchowski.

In the same finals session, Nelson also won the 100 fly in 47.50 by just .06 seconds ahead of Garrett Boone, who was 2nd in 47.56. Those were best times for both swimmers.

In the girls’ 400 IM, Nelson’s teammate Grace Rainey led the way with a big drop of her own. Rainey, a sophomore, won that event in 4:16.99, which lops almost 3 seconds off her own personal best in the event. She won that race by several yards.

Rainey also won the girls’ 100 breaststroke in 1:00.58, improving her best time by a tenth. She out-battled Mecklenburg’s Kaylee Hamblin in 1:00.79.

In the other big swim on the day, 15-year old Kiley Wilhelm from Life Time Swim Team North Carolina won the girls’ 100 fly in 52.73. That time ranks among the 20 fastest 100 yard fly swims by a swimmer 15 years old or younger in history, just behind what National Age Group Record breaker Torri Huske did at that age.

In the process, she beat out a very fast field that included a best time of 53.91 from Lindsay Flynn. Flynn was 2nd in the 50 and 100 free at last year’s Winter Junior Championships – East.

Wilhelm also swam a best time in the 200 free, which she won in 1:46.81 ahead of Morgan Razewski (1:48.02).

Other Day 1 Highlights

  • SwimMAC Carolina’s Logan Zucker swam 1:36.79 to knock almost a second off his best time in that event. Zucker, the 12th-ranked recruit in the class of 2020, is committed to the University of Michigan. His teammate Reid Miller placed 2nd in 1:37.43, which is his best time by a full second.
  • Before his big 400 IM battle, Sam Hoover won the boys’ 100 breaststroke in 54.10. That’s his best time by almost a second.
  • In the afternoon timed finals time trials session, which was mostly swimmers not eligible for the 18 & Under Winter Championships, there were some big drops. That includes a 3:55.84 from Jacob Wimberly in the boys’ 400 IM. That’s a best time by more than 13 seconds for the high school freshman. The runner-up in that race, Alex Ayers, also had a huge drop to go sub-4 minutes for the first time. He dropped over 17 seconds for a 3:58.69.

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1 year ago

Love both of these kids! so much heart and love for the sport. I hope Baylor goes to NC State, keeping his talent close to home.

So confused
1 year ago

Any idea where Nelson is going to school?

Reply to  So confused
1 year ago

not committed yet

1 year ago

Sam Hoover is mighty versatile! NC State class of 2021 is looking better and better every day. Hoover, Hayes, Ponti, Bustos, and Noorgaard will wreck havoc

Reply to  Swimmin85
1 year ago

don’t forget about Curtiss and Boone either

1 year ago

It’s always interesting to see the different ways to swim a 400 IM. 50.8 freestyle leg on a 3:47 400 IM is nutso.

A couple of sample times and freestyle splits from 2017 NCAA 400 IM:

Kalisz: 3:33 and 51.1
Seliskar: 3:36 and 50.8
Bentz: 3:36 and 48.7 (!!)
Litherland: 3:38 and 50.2

Pretty comparable finish to the guys going 10 seconds faster, with Gunnar Bentz being the only real exception.

1 year ago

That’s a heck of a race! And a whale of a back half for Hoover.

Reply to  Guerra
1 year ago

I was very lucky to have a competitor like Baylor to race that last 200

Reply to  TBC
1 year ago

Very gracious! What was the 2nd 50 of backstroke split?

1 year ago


1 year ago

WOW! Wish I had seen that 400 IM race! Can swimswam post it? Great job Sam & Baylor!

Reply to  Braden Keith
1 year ago

I like how you put the $$ signs by the livestream link. 🤣
But seriously, why are they charging to watch this event during a pandemic when you can’t have spectators

About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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