Sandpipers’ Ilya Kharun & Katie Grimes Win 2021 U.S. National Junior 5K Titles


This week’s open water national meet serves as a selection event for the 2021 World Junior Open Water Swimming Championships, which will take place August 13-15 in Victoria, Seychelles. The two highest-placing eligible finishers, those ages 15-16 as of December 31, 2021, will qualify for the World Junior 5K event.

This morning, the men’s junior 5K event took place, followed by the women’s junior 5K event.

Official results via USA Swimming News on Twitter.

Men’s Junior 5K

After the first lap of the men’s junior 5k, 14-year-old Luke Ellis of Sandpipers of Nevada held the lead over 15-year-old Alex Ayers of SwimMAC Carolina and 14-year-old teammate Bucky Gettys. The next lap, Sandpipers 16-year-old Ilya Kharun took over Ellis/Ayers’ pace for a moment, until they pushed Kharun to third heading into lap three of three.

Kharun again took over Ellis and Ayers during the final lap, this time to nab the junior national title at 1:02.50 and punch his ticket to Seychelles. In the race for the second, it was Ellis who touched out Ayers for the second spot in a photo finish for the 2021 World 5k team.

OFFICIAL Men’s Junior 5K Results:

  1. Ilya Kharun (Sandpipers), 1:02.50
  2. Luke Ellis (Sandpipers), 1:02.51
  3. Alex Ayers (SwimMAC), 1:02.51

Women’s Junior 5K

Throughout the entire five-kilometer race, 15-year-old Katie Grimes of Sandpipers of Nevada lead the women’s junior field on every lap check-point. On laps two and three, Sandpipers 15-year-old Bella Sims and Gulf Coast 15-year-old Cadence Fort rounded out the top three leaders. At the finish, it was Grimes who took the national title at 1:04.04, a 42-second winning margin. Placing second was teammate Sims at 1:04.46, punching her ticket to Seychelles. Fort settled for third at 1:04.54.

Yesterday in the 10k, Grimes was the highest-placing junior swimmer with her fourth place finish at 2:05.25, four seconds behind Olympian Haley Anderson. Per USA Swimming’s 2021-2022 selection criteria, the top five finishers in yesterday’s 10k earn U.S. national open water team status. Third-place finisher in the junior 5k, Gulf Coast’s Fort, placed sixth behind 16-year-old Blair Stoneburg of Treasure Coast Aquatics in the open 10k event.

14-year-old Claire Weinstein of Westchester Aquatic Club and 15-year-old Mary McKenna of Long Island Express placed fourth and fifth respectively, yet full junior 5k results are unavailable at this time.

OFFICIAL Women’s Junior 5K Results:

  1. Katie Grimes (Sandpipers), 1:04.04
  2. Bella Sims (Sandpipers), 1:04.46
  3. Cadence Fort (Gulf Coast), 1:04.54
  4. Claire Weinstein (Westchester), N/A*
  5. Mary McKenna (Long Island), N/A*

2021 Women's OW Junior 5K Top 5

[Left to right] Mary McKenna (5th) Long Island Express, Katie Grimes (1st) Sandpipers of Nevada, Claire Weinstein (4th) Westchester Aquatic Club, and Bella Sims (2nd) Sandpipers of Nevada. Courtesy Carle Fierro.

2021 World Jr 5k Qualifiers ([from left to right] Ellis, Kharun, Grimes, Sims). Courtesy Michael Kinross.


Here’s a look at the age brackets and qualifying events for the World Junior meet:

  • 5K Event
    • Ages 15-16 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2005 or 2006)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 5K event on Saturday
  • 7.5K Event
    • Ages 17-18 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2003 or 2004)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 7.5K event on Sunday
  • 10K Event
    • Ages 19-20 as of December 31, 2021 (Athletes born in 2001 or 2002)
    • Two highest-placing eligible swimmers from the 10K event on Friday

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1 year ago

The coverage was better today

1 year ago

Great racing in the ocean this morning!

After a finish that required an instant replay, Ellis officially finished 2nd in the Men’s race. He is the young man on the far left of the last posted picture.

About Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro

Nick Pecoraro started swimming at age 11, instantly becoming drawn to the sport. He was a breaststroker and IMer when competing. After joining SwimSwam, the site has become an outlet for him to research and learn about competitive swimming and experience the sport through a new lenses. He graduated in …

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