Sandpipers Girls go 1-2-3 in Record-Setting 500 Free at Winter Juniors West


The Sandpipers of Nevada flexed their distance muscles on Thursday at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships – West meet in Austin, Texas.

Sandpiper swimmers finished 1-2-3 in the race, with all three swimmers being 16 & unders.

Olympian Bella Sims broke the Meet Record with a 4:32.28 (though it actually missed her personal best by .15 seconds). That crushed the previous record of 4:37.10 that was set by her fellow Tokyo Olympian Regan Smith in 2018.

Her 15-year old teammate Katie Grimes finished 2nd in 4:32.97, also under the old Meet Record, and their newest teammate, 14-year old Claire Weinstein, finished 3rd in 4:38.46.

Splits Comparisons:

Bella Sims Katie Grimes Regan Smith Claire Weinstein
New Meet Record
Old Meet Record
100m 50.78 51.83 53.23 53.89
200m 55.53 56.06 56.48 56.35
300m 56.2 55.86 56.55 55.61
400m 55.71 55.53 55.93 56.43
500m 54.06 53.69 54.91 56.18
Final Time 4:32.28 4:32.97 4:37.10 4:38.46
Previous PB 4:32.15 4:37.36 4:44.10

Besides Sims’ new record, Grimes and Weinstein also launched up the all-time rankings for their ages. Grimes is the fastest-ever 15-year old in the history of the event, and #3 all-time 15-16, behind only Sims (4:32.13) and Olympic champion Katie Ledecky (4:28.71).

Weinstein is now the 2nd-fastest 13-14 ever in the event, again behind only Katie Ledecky (4:35.14).

Sims swam on the American 800 free relay at the Olympic Games, where she received a silver medal for her efforts in the preliminary heats. Grimes swam the 800 free and placed 4th.

Weinstein joined the team after the summer long course season from the Westchester Aquatic Club in New York. There she trained under Carleanne Fierro in a program that has developed a number of top-level age groupers, including Olympic medalist Kate Douglass, who moved on to other programs as they entered their high school years. Weinstein’s previous best prior to the meet, from December 2020, was 4:44.10.

Another Sandpiper swimmer, Paige Kuwata, finished 7th in 4:46.14, further showing off the team’s depth in this event. They also had the #6 (Brice Barrieault – 4:24.45) and #9 (Ilya Kharun – 4:20.55) finishers on the boys’ side.


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1 year ago

The way Bella swims the 500 is very unique. She actually starts out at basically 100%, as if she is swimming a 200 free. Although she didn’t subtract time, she basically matched her PB which is amazing! How about Grimes too??? 4:32.9, and a 53.XX on the last 100??

katie’s gators cap :)
1 year ago

they really make the 500 look like a sprint 😭😭

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 year ago

Grimes with the MASSIVE time drop

1 year ago

Bella sims vs Lia Thomas exhibition swim when??

Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
Reply to  Virtus
1 year ago

you can go leave

1 year ago

Is the 500 a distance race? 🤔

Chef Jake
Reply to  swimtothemoon24
1 year ago

Not to those girls

Unknown Swammer
Reply to  swimtothemoon24
1 year ago

Used to be…

1 year ago

they’re now the 3rd and 4th fastest high schoolers of all time if I’m looking at this database right, and Grimes isn’t even halfway through high school yet

Pacific Whirl
1 year ago

Grimes is the third fastest 15yo behind Ledecky and Sims. Sims was faster in April when she was 15.

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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