[Author’s Note: Lest you think I am unaware of the crazy-fast Big Name age-group swimmers, I did a supplement to this week’s report especially to point out all the new National Age Group records that have been set recently. And yes, there are mind-boggling athletes like Clara Smiddy, whom I greatly admire but won’t be talking about here, who you may feel have been left out. But most of them have had scores of articles written about their incredible aquatic feats. This space is meant to celebrate a wider range of talent.]
This past weekend produced some head-spinningly- fast age group performances. The most remarkable thing is how deep the fast swimming goes. Not only did we see super speedy swims at the top –as evidenced by the large number of NAG records that fell – but we also have very fast kids bunched together in the third-through-tenth or twelfth performances in many events.
This week’s Daring Dozen:
Thomas Anderson, 15, King Aquatic Club: 50 free (20.23) – Between prelims and finals at Winter Juniors, Anderson knocked nearly a second off his 21.17 time from December 2012. He won the B final with the seventh fastest time posted at the meet.
Lauren Pitzer, 14, Lakeside Aquatic Club: 50 free (22.89)/ 100 free (50.16) – Pitzer was the youngest finalist at Winter Juniors in the 50 (she finished 12th) and the 100 (14th). She also finaled in the 200 free (1:48.96) and went 4:52.78 in the 500 to just miss the C final. Last December she went 23.89/ 52.68 in the 50 and 100, respectively.
Claire Adams, 15, Carmel Swim Club: 200 free (1:45.55) – Adams finished second to Katie Drabot by six-hundredths in the 200 free final at Winter Juniors. Last year at the same meet she was a 1:50.89; that’s a huge drop in one year. Adams now has the top time in the country for 15-year-old girls.
James Murphy, 16, Machine Aquatics: 500 free (4:25.24) – Murphy won the Boys Open 500 free at the Tom Dolan Invitational at University of Maryland. Last year at the same meet Murphy swam a 4:33.34. The 4:25.24 catapulted him into the third position for 16-year-old boys in the country this season.
Abbie Sullivan, 11, SOLO Aquatics: 1650 free (18:07.30) – Competing in the North Shore Swim Club Team Invitational at the MIT pool in Cambridge, MA, Sullivan dropped 39 seconds from the mile she swam in October and now sits Number Two in the nation for 11-year-old girls.
Ethan Young, 15, Carpet Capital Aquatics Club: 100 back (47.53) – Prior to Winter Juniors, Young’s best 100 back had been a 49-low from Georgia high school championships. His last nine swims had all been 49s. In prelims he scored a seventh-place finish with 47.99; in finals he jumped to fourth place and now possesses the top time in the country among 15-year-old 100 backstrokers.
Grace Ariola, 13, Waves Bloomington/Normal YMCA: 200 back (1:57.11) – Ariola qualified for Winter Juniors in the 200 back with a 2:17 LCM; her fastest yards time was a 2:03.66 from November 2012. At Juniors she dropped 5.5 in prelims, finishing 12th in 1:58.11. The youngest finalist, she came back and took another second off, winding up 11th. Ariola now holds the top 200 back in the nation for 13-year-old girls.
Foster Heasley, 11, Nittany Lion Aquatic Club: 200 breast (2:23.24) – Because Ethan Dang already got his own article, the 200 breast award goes to national second-place Heasley. Swimming at the Team Pittsburgh 52nd Annual Christmas Meet at Pitt, Heasley dropped five seconds off his seed time in prelims, and another five in finals. He is now 20 seconds faster than he was the first time he swam the event in January 2013.
Jessica Nava, 13, Pine Crest Swimming: 100 fly (55.09) – Nava went 55.86 at Winter Juniors but then swam it again in time trials, where she improved by .77. Her fastest 100 fly from the fall of 2012 was 57.74. Nava now ranks at the top of the country by .60 for 13-year-old girls.
Connor Lee, 12, South Pasadena Sea Tigers: 200 fly (2:00.69) – Lee went 12 seconds faster than he did a year ago, winning the Boys’ 11/12 200 fly at the SCS Winter Age Group Championships hosted by Sandpipers in Las Vegas. Lee has the nation’s top times in the 100 and 200 fly for 12-year-old boys.
Meaghan Raab, 17, Hershey Aquatic Club: 200 IM (1:56.92) – At Winter Juniors Raab finished a close second to Ella Eastin and took nearly a full second off her time from last year’s Juniors. Raab has the top 200 IM in the country for 17-year-old girls.
Hunter Hitchens, 13, Irvine Novaquatics: 400 IM (4:08.36) – Hitchens won the Boys’ 13/14 400 IM at the SCS Winter Age Group Championships hosted by Palm Springs Piranhas in the second-fastest time in the nation for 13-year-old boys. A year ago he went 4:26.18.