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.
15-year-old Merve Tuncel exploded this month for four Turkish records in a span of just six days.
The young distance swimmer made headlines last week with a short course meters 15:45.29 in the 1500 free at the Turkish Championships. That set the national record and also beat the World Junior Record benchmark time.
But this week’s swim of the week came in the middle of a three-day record onslaught. Moving from the short course Turkish Championships to the Turkish Winter Championships in long course meters, Tuncel erased national records in the 400, 800 and 1500 frees.
Our Swim of the Week goes to the 400 free, where Tuncel went 4:06.83. That’s the #5 time in the entire world this year for athletes of any age.
Among U.S. 15-16s, that would rank #3 all-time behind only Katie Ledecky (3:59.82) and Janet Evans (4:05.45). Ledecky swam that absurd sub-4:00 time as a 16-year-old, but when she was 15 (like Tuncel is now), the great Ledecky was 4:04.35 in the long course 400 free.
That 400 free was sandwiched by a 16:03.23 national record in the 1500 free the day before and a national-record 8:28.34 in the 800 free the day after. Tuncel is rapidly moving into the Olympic conversation, and if she continues her improvement curve into 2021, she could be an Olympic finalist – or better – in Tokyo next summer.