The 10 Oldest U.S. NAG Records Remaining On the Books

by Riley Overend 47

December 29th, 2023 National, News, Records

The last few years have seen some legendary U.S. national age group (NAG) records fall as “swim-flation” has reached new heights among young American swimmers.

Over the summer, Pleasanton Seahawks 14-year-old Luka Mijatovic blazed a 1500-meter freestyle time of 15:27.38 at Junior Nationals in July, breaking the oldest NAG record on the books belonging to Jesse Vassallo (15:31.03) from way back in 1976. In January of 2022, Sandpipers of Nevada 14-year-old Claire Weinstein tied Sippy Woodhead’s 43-year-old NAG record in the 200-meter free (1:58.53).

Thomas Heilman broke Chas Morton’s oldest yards record (from 1984) with a 51.44 100 butterfly in 2019, eventually bringing the standard all the way down to 50.82 in 2020. Also in 2019, Torri Huske (57.80) and Claire Curzan (57.87) snuck under Mary T. Meagher’s 15-16 100-meter fly record of 57.93 from 38 years prior. Curzan is the current owner with a 56.20 in 2021.

From the Vault:

The recent onslaught on the record books has left just four NAG standards remaining from the 1970s, only two from the 1980s, and 13 total from the 20th century. We’ve combined a few to create a comprehensive top-10 list:

#10: Amanda Weir’s 11-12 50 SCY freestyle (1999)

Record Time – 23.15

Before she became a three-time Olympian (2004, 2012, 2016) and four-time Olympic medalist (three silvers, one bronze), Amanda Weir was a SwimAtlanta 12-year-old who shattered one of the oldest NAG records on the books in January of 1999. She clocked a time of 23.15 in the 50-yard freestyle, taking more than half a second off the previous standard of 23.71 set by Trina Radke in 1983 and Grace Cornelius in 1985.

Challengers? Penelope Lopez-Casula fired off a 23.57 in March to move up to 7th in the NAG rankings at just 11 years old. Now 12 years old, the Eagle Aquatics sprinter still has next spring to chase Weir’s record before aging up around the summertime.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★★★☆☆

#9: Carly Geehr’s 11-12 100 LCM breaststroke and 11-12 200 SCY breaststroke (1997)

Record Times: 1:09.87 and 2:15.34

At age 12, Carly Geehr lowered her lifetime best in the 100-meter breaststroke by nearly two-and-a-half seconds to 1:09.87 at the 1997 U.S. National Championships, placing 4th and becoming the youngest swimmer ever to make the U.S. team for the Pan Pacific Championships. That mark has stood the test of time, ranking as the most dominant NAG record on the girls’ side (2.9% over 2nd place) according to a SwimSwam analysis last month. Geehr also owns the longest-standing NAG record in yards with a 2:15.34 at Winter Juniors – West in 1997. She was a favorite to make the U.S. Olympic team in 2000 before struggling with shoulder issues that continued to plague her years later at Stanford.

Challengers? Nobody cracked the top 100 age-group rankings for the 100-meter breast in 2023 among 11- and 12-year-old American girls, a sign that the record should be safe for now. Mikayla Tan shot up to 3rd all-time with a 1:12.49 last summer, but is 13 years old now and appears to be representing Singapore internationally anyway. For the 200-yard breast, Tan (2:15.43) and Grace Koenig-Song (2:17.22) made valiant runs at Geehr’s record, but they’re both aged up now. Currently, the top challenger appears to be Adalyn Lee (2:20.76), who has dropped almost 10 seconds over the past year.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★☆☆☆☆

#8: Amanda Beard’s 13-14 100 and 200 LCM breaststroke (1996)

Record Times – 1:08.09 and 2:25.75

Amanda Beard burst onto the scene as a 14-year-old at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics, winning silver medals in the 100-meter breast (1:08.09) and 200-meter breast (2:25.75) with times that remain NAG records today. She became the second-youngest Olympic medalist in American history, missing out on individual gold by a combined .7 seconds before topping the podium (with her teddy bear) in the 400 medley relay.

Challengers? Grace Koenig-Song, 13, still has at least a year left to chase Beard’s records with best times of 1:10.53 and 2:31.77 in the 100 breast and 200 breast, respectively, this past summer. Those performances rank her 22nd and 26th in the NAG rankings. Mia Su, 14, is also closing in on Beard’s 200 breast record with a 2:31.01 from July, but she’s running out of time before she ages out of the group.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★★★☆☆

#7: Beth Botsford’s 11-12 100 LCM backstroke (1994)

Record Time: 1:03.08

Beth Botsford was already making finals at U.S. Nationals as a 12-year-old North Baltimore Aquatic Club standout. After crushing the 100-meter backstroke 11-12 NAG record with a 1:03.08 in 1994, she went on to to make the 1996 Olympics at just 15 years old and ultimately triumphed in Atlanta with a 1:01.19, just a couple tenths ahead of fellow American Whitney Hedgepeth (1:01.47). Botsford was just about half-a-second off of the Olympic record in the 100 back en route to the gold medal.

Challengers? Five swimmers cracked the top 100 age-group rankings in the 100-meter back this year, but three of them (Heba Fouitah, Marley Spray, and Shelby Hutchinson) have already aged up. That leaves No. 36 Delaney O’Toole (1:06.34), who ages up very soon, and No. 84 Julia Bak (1:07.24), who has a few months left to chase Botsford’s seemingly untouchable standard.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ☆☆☆☆☆

#6: Anita Nall’s 15-16 200 LCM breaststroke (1992)

Record Time – 2:25.35

Anita Nall set this NAG record during the 1992 U.S. Olympic Trials, where she lowered the 200-meter breaststroke world record twice in one day. Back then under the NCAA’s archaic rules, she had to forfeit her collegiate eligibility in order to accept training funds from the U.S. Olympic Committee. Nall went on to win bronze in the 200 breast (2:26.88) and silver in the 100 breast (1:08.17) at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics, and her 200 breast world record stood for more than two years until Australia’s Rebecca Brown posted a 2:24.76 in 1994.

Challengers? A pair of 16-year-olds went sub-2:29 this summer between Stanford commit Addie Robillard (2:27.50 in August) and Carmel standout Molly Sweeney (2:28.20 in June), who cracked the top 20 NAG rankings but remain seconds away from the standard. With four other swimmers breaking 2:30 this year — including 15-year-old Danica Aten (2:29.75 in December) — many are in the mix, but this record doesn’t seem under serious threat just yet.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★★☆☆☆

#5: Chas Morton’s 11-12 100 LCM butterfly (1983)

Record Time – 58.74

One of the greatest age-group swimmers of all time, Chas Morton has just one NAG record left on the books: his 58.74 100-meter butterfly from when he was just 12 years old in 1983. There’s no indication it will be erased anytime soon as the best young butterfly specialists of the past decade (Dare Rose – 59.83, Thomas Heilman – 59.89) haven’t gotten within a second of Morton’s 40-year-old standard.

Challengers? Gabriel Trujillo led a quartet of swimmers who cracked the top 100 NAG rankings as 12-year-olds this year, jumping up to 8th ever with his 1:00.45 from July. However, he and the other three (Alexander Thomas, Trace Colton, and Giovanni Castaneda) have all aged up by now. Only four swimmers in the history of this age group have ever broken one minute, the most recent being Heilman in 2019.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ☆☆☆☆☆

#4: Mary T. Meagher’s 15-16 200 LCM butterfly (1981)

Record Time – 2:05.96

Mary T. Meagher’s 15-16 100 LCM butterfly record (57.93) was taken down in 2019 by Huske and Curzan, but her 200 fly time of 2:05.96 has survived into its fifth decade with no signs of going away anytime soon. She had already held the world record for more than two years when she lowered it for the last time as a 16-year-old in August of 1981 (2:05.96). That stood as the world record for nearly 19 years until Australia’s Susie O’Neill went 2:05.81 at the 2000 Olympic Trials. The next-closest U.S. age grouper since Meagher was Regan Smith with a 2:07.42 in 2018.

Challengers? Top 2025 recruit Alex Shackell got within two seconds of Meagher’s record this summer (2:07.95), but she turned 17 last month.

Likelihood of Being Broken:★☆☆☆☆

#3: Mary T. Meagher’s 13-14 200 LCM butterfly (1979)

Record Time – 2:07.01

After breaking her first world record at the Pan Am Games in July of 1979 (2:09.77), Meagher set two world records in one day with a 2:08.41 in prelims and 2:07.01 in the final. That mark stood as the global standard from August of 1979 until July of 1980, when she went 2:06.37. Meagher couldn’t compete at the 1980 Olympics due to the U.S. boycott, but she captured three gold medals (100 fly, 200 fly, 400 medley relay) at the 1984 Olympics in Los Angeles and a bronze (200 fly) at the 1988 Olympics in Seoul.

Challengers? Audrey Derivaux, 14, sits at No. 11 in the NAG rankings with her 2:11.54 from July. The Jersey Wahoos standout has until next August to take down Meagher’s 44-year-old standard.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★☆☆☆☆

#2: Sippy Woodhead’s 13-14 200 and 400 LCM freestyle (1978)

Record Times – 1:58.53 and 4:07.15

Another American swimming legend, Cynthia “Sippy” Woodhead won three gold and two silver medals at the 1978 World Championships, setting NAG records in the 200 free (1:58.53) and 400 free (4:07.15) in the process. Like Meagher, Woodhead saw her international medal totals hurt by the 1980 Olympic boycott, but returned to eventually earn a medal (silver) in 1984. Although Claire Weinstein tied her 200 free mark of 1:58.53 last January, Meagher remains the sole owner of the 400 free, where no swimmer has been sub-4:10 in more than a decade.

Challengers? Kayla Han approached the 4:10 barrier with her 4:10.56 from May, but she has now aged up to the 15-16 group. The only other 13-14 girl who cracked the top-100 NAG rankings in the 400 free this year was 13-year-old Brinkleigh Hansen with her 4:19.28 from June. The closest current age grouper in the 200 free is 14-year-old Rylee Erisman with her 2:02.34 from July.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★☆☆☆☆

#1: Bobby Hackett’s 15-16 1500 LCM freestyle (1976)

Record Time – 15:03.91

At just 16 years old, Bobby Hackett blazed a 15:03.91 at the 1976 Olympics in Montreal, finishing below the world record at the time but losing the gold medal to fellow American Brian Goodell (15:02.40) for the gold medal. Forty-seven years later, Hackett’s silver-medal effort stands as the oldest NAG record on the books. However, its days may be numbered.

Challengers? Luka Mijatovic is probably the first name that comes to mind after the 14-year-old phenom broke Jesse Vassallo’s oldest NAG record on the books (15:31.03 from 1976) this summer with a 15:27.38. Mijatovic has dropped more than a minute and 13 seconds over the past year. But there’s a chance that he never gets a chance to break Hackett’s standard if Nathan Szobota continues his remarkable progression in the 1500 free. The 16-year-old Notre Dame commit dropped 34 seconds in the past year down to 15:18.13 in June.

Likelihood of Being Broken: ★★★★☆

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Snitch McConnell
5 months ago

Mary T = no goggles & racing suit

5 months ago

Important to note that many of the oldest records were done with no goggles. Incredible

Swim like a narwhal
5 months ago

Can you imagine if these swimmers had tech suits and streamlines!!!?!!! How fast would they be? That would be a fun swimswam analysis.

5 months ago

I’m guessing the AAU age group records were transferred over to USA swimming when AAU transferred in the early 1980s?

Reply to  Seth
5 months ago

Yes, I believe that’s correct.

PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
5 months ago

It’s wild that there’s only a difference of 4 tenths between the 13-14 and 15-16 200 breast records.

Andy Hardt
5 months ago

Great article! But I’m confused about one small point. In the entry for Mary T. Meagher’s 13-14 record, there is the following line:

“Audrey Derivaux, 16, sits at No. 11 in the NAG rankings with her 2:11.54 from July”

Is that July 2023? If so, Derivaux would have been at least 15 at the time of the swim.

Regardless, per the article, no US 13-14 year-old in recent history has been within 4 seconds of 2:07:01, and not even a US 15-16 year-old has broken 2:07. (Summer McIntosh did, but even she was 15) Any reason that’s not zero stars?

Reply to  Andy Hardt
5 months ago

She is 14 until August

Andy Hardt
Reply to  PhillyMark
5 months ago

Oh, crazy, so she swam her 2:11 at age 13?! I see now why the record isn’t listed at zero stars!

5 months ago

Re: Mary T’s 15-16 200 Fly NAG. Clare Watson swims for Canada, not the US, so she shouldn’t be listed as a challenger.

Side note: Clare is ranked 5th for 15-16 200 Fly all-time but McIntosh’s NAG is even faster than Mary T’s! Probably one of the few Canadian NAG’s that are faster.

5 months ago

I think that Luka Mijatovic will not break Hackett’s NAG record. It’s not because I think he is not good enough. But it’s because he seems to be an Ian Thorpe type of swimmer rather than the likes of grant hackett.

Reply to  Boomer
5 months ago

Bobby Hackett, not Grant.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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