Sara Stotler Swims New Trials Standard at Split-Site Southern Sectionals

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 0

February 13th, 2021 News

Southern Zone South Sectional Championships – Site 1 & 2 combined

  • February 11-14, 2021
  • Sarasota, Florida
  • Long Course Meters (50m)
  • Web results

The Southern Sectional Championships within the Southern Zone of USA Swimming kicks off the spring sectional season, which will for many swimmers aroudn their country represent their first USA Swimming championship event in a year.

The event is being held at two separate sites in Florida, though results are being combined for overall rankings and team scoring.

So far, Site 1, located in Sarasota, Florida, has had the better performances in the distance events, while Site 2, in Coral Springs, has led the way in the sprint races.

For most competitors, this also represents the first long course racing chances since USA Swimming announced its plan for a split Olympic Trials meets. That means some swimmers will be chasing Wave I Olympic Trials cuts, while others will be looking to move up into the faster Wave 2 field in late June.

Among the swimmers who achieved the former through the first two days of competition are Sara Stotler from Planet Swim Aquatics. Racing at Site 2, she swam 1:00.63 in the 100 fly, which is a new Wave 1 cut and is her first Olympic Trials cut. Her previous best time coming into the day was a 1:01.21 that is now 18 months old – done at the 2019 Summer Junior Nationals.

Stotler is committed to swim at Tennessee starting next fall.

Through 2 days of competition, she was the only swimmer to achieve a new U.S. Olympic Trials cut, though there were several Wave 1 times done by swimmers who already either had those cuts, or who are international athletes ineligible to race at the U.S. Trials.

Among those pro winners was Jamaican Alia Atkinson, who trains with SoFlo Aquatics in Florida. The 32-year old Atkinson has been geared heavily toward short course and sprint swimming as she’s made most of her career off World Cup and ISL meets in the last quad.

But she’s rounding back into Olympic form in the 100 breast, her best Olympic event, about 5 months out from Tokyo.

Atkinson swam 1:08.46 in the 100 breaststroke on Friday. That’s four seconds faster than she swam at a long course meet last weekend and is her fastest long course swim since the FINA Champions Series in January 2020.

Among other winners with big Olympic hopes are Emma Weyant, who has deferred the start of her college career at Virginia by a year amid the pandemic. She won the 400 IM in 4:42.77 and the 200 free in 2:00.50. While neither is particularly close to a best time, both are fairly close to what she swam at the Pro Swim Series meet in San Antonio in January.

Other Winners and Notables:

  • Jordanian swimmer Khader Baqlah won the men’s 200 free in 1:48.71. His season-best of 1:47.9 came at the US Open in November. Peruvian 18-yer old Joaquin Vargas was 2nd in that race in 1:50.96, which shaves .03 seconds off his previous best time in the event. The Peruvian Record is a 1:50.30.
  • Polish Olympian Marcin Cieslak won the 100 fly in 53.33. That’s the second-best time for him in the last two years, behind a 53.0 from July. Cieslak is coming off a strong short course season that saw him mark the 4 best 100 short course meters fly swims of his career in Budapest.
  • Honduran international Julio Horrego swam 1:02.28 in the 100 breaststroker at Site 2 to beat out German swimmer Nils Wich-Glasen, who was 2nd overall in 1:02.37 swimming out of Site 1. Horrego, who didn’t have the benefit of the deep field to race against at Site 2, broke his own Honduras National Record with that swim. The old record of 1:03.37 was done at the 2019 Pan American Games where he finished in 12th place.
  • Former Florida Gator Grant Sanders won the 400 IM in 4:26.20, beating out his Gator Swim Club training partner Tomas Peribonio (4:28.75).
  • Liam Custer, who has been a rallying point among American juniors for evidence of returning to form post-lockdowns, won the 800 free on Thursday in 8:13.57 – about four seconds short of his best. He also finished 3rd in the 400 IM in 4:31.

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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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