Swim of the Week: Teagan O’Dell Drops Three Seconds To Set 13-14 200 IM NAG

Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

Teagan O’Dell had herself a meet, to say the least, at the Irvine site of USA Swimming’s Speedo Summer Championships last week, resetting personal best times across five different events.

It was an incredibly busy five days of racing for O’Dell—the 14-year-old entered the meet’s last session on Saturday night having already raced 12 times in four and a half days, and she still had three more to go.

The first of those three races at finals was the women’s 200 individual medley, an event in which she had lowered her lifetime best by almost two seconds less than a month prior (recording a 2:15.53 at the So Cal Invite on July 10), and had come close to that time in the heats (2:15.97).

Having dropped nearly five seconds to place third in the 400 IM two nights earlier, clocking 4:46.73 to move into a tie for 10th all-time in the 13-14 age group, O’Dell was riding a lot of momentum coming into the 200, but what she managed to do was simply stunning.

The Irvine Novaquatics swimmer got out to the front of the race early, turning a close second after 50 meters of butterfly in 28.77, and then absolutely took over on backstroke, opening up almost a two-second lead on the field at the halfway mark in 1:01.52.

Justina Kozan, the 17-year-old Mission Viejo Nadadore known for her closing ability in the event, produced a scorching back-half to come back and win in a time of 2:11.96, notably splitting a full second faster than anyone did in the Olympic final on the freestyle leg (29.75).

Kozan’s swim takes nothing away from O’Dell’s showing, however, as O’Dell split 39.4/31.6 coming home for a final time of 2:12.53, taking two tenths off of the girls’ 13-14 National Age Group Record set by the legendary Missy Franklin way back in 2009 (2:12.73).

Digging into O’Dell’s splits, her backstroke leg of 32.75 would’ve been third-fastest in the Olympic final, trailing only Tokyo gold medalist Yui Ohashi (32.50) and runner-up Alex Walsh (32.68), and it was also faster than Franklin had been in her NAG record swim (32.88).

In fact, the way O’Dell and Franklin split the race was eerily similar:

Teagan O’Dell – 2021
28.77 28.74
32.75 (1:01.52) 32.88 (1:01.62)
39.41 (1:40.93) 39.63 (1:41.35)
31.60 (2:12.53) 31.48 (2:12.73)
2:12.53 2:12.73

ALL-TIME TOP 100 AGE GROUP TIMES – 13-14 WOMEN’S 200 IM LCM

  1. Teagan O’Dell, 2:12.53 (2021)
  2. Missy Franklin, 2:12.73 (2009)
  3. Leah Hayes, 2:13.06 (2019)
  4. Claire Tuggle, 2:15.02 (2018)
  5. Katie Hoff, 2:15.26 (2004)

O’Dell was back in the water shortly thereafter, placing seventh in the 50 freestyle in a time of 26.16—a time that improved her prelim swim, that had seeded her first coming in, by .01, while missing her best time by .08.

Entering the water for her 15th and final race of the meet, O’Dell led off the Novaquatic women’s 400 medley relay with a 100 backstroke time of 1:01.38, just a half-second off her PB set in the individual race, which ranks her fifth all-time among 13-14s.

O’Dell’s ability to break a 12-year-old NAG, at the tail-end of an extremely busy week of racing, was something else.

O’Dell’s Meet Schedule

  • Tuesday Morning – 100 FR Prelims
  • Tuesday Evening – 100 FR Final
  • Wednesday Morning –  200 BK Prelims
  • Wednesday Evening – 200 BK Final, 4×100 Free Relay Final
  • Thursday Morning – 400 IM Prelims
  • Thursday Evening – 400 IM Final, 4×200 Free Relay Final
  • Friday Morning – 100 BK Prelims
  • Friday Evening – 100 BK Final
  • Saturday Morning – 200 IM Prelims, 50 FR Prelims
  • Saturday Evening – 200 IM Final, 50 FR Final, 4×100 Medley Relay Final

Here’s a look at her five personal best times from Irvine, and where she ranks in the historical age group rankings:

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cynthia curran
2 months ago

So, doing more research I found she came from Wes Covina. The Chino Hills connection was the first swim club that is 15 miles from West Covina. She has broken a lot of Sothern California age group records now.

FanofTO
Reply to  cynthia curran
2 months ago

O’Dell was born in Irvine. I’m pretty sure she has never lived in West Covina. Let’s be clear though…she swims for NOVA in Irvine. The one thing I can agree on is that, yes, she HAS broken a ton of Southern California Swimming records.

nuotofan
2 months ago

My congrats to O’Dell but also to James Sutherland because his articles are accurate and well-written.

Hswimmer
Reply to  nuotofan
2 months ago

His are the best.

Hswimmer
Reply to  James Sutherland
2 months ago

Of course!

Bobo Gigi
2 months ago
FanofTO
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
2 months ago

What a race! O’Dell takes it out in 1:01! As she matures she will need to work on that back half. Look for good stuff in her future!

Hswimmer
Reply to  FanofTO
2 months ago

Doesn’t have to do with maturity, just breaststroke.

Marklewis
2 months ago

200 IM getting as loaded as the backstroke for the USA women.

FanofTO
2 months ago

O’Dell was very close to the Missy Franklin NAG in the 200 back early on in the meet where she even split 1:04.7/1:04.8. This is also the second time O’Dell has broken a Missy Franklin 200 IM NAG record.

Marklewis
Reply to  FanofTO
2 months ago

Watched the YouTube video and O’Dell’s backstroke technique is superb.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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