Thomas Heilman Becomes First US 13 Year-old Under 24 in the 50 Free

by Robert Gibbs 14

November 13th, 2020 National, News, Previews & Recaps

2020 U.S. Open Swimming Championships

Thomas Heilman of Cavalier Aquatics/Piedmont Family YMCA made the most of his first LCM 50 free swim as a 13 year-old. Swimming today at the Richmond site of the 2020 U.S. Open Championships, Heilman burst past both the 25.0 and 24.0 barriers, taking his lifetime best from 25.02 to an eye-popping 23.36.

According to the USA Swimming database, that time makes him the fastest US 13 year-old ever, moving him well ahead of Michael Andrew’s 24.09 from 2013.

In fact, Heilman’s time today moves him to #2 all-time in the 13-14 age group, and he still has over a year to take down Andrew’s overall age group mark of 23.19. The icing on the cake is that 23.19 also happens to the exact time needed for an Olympic Trials cut in that event.

We’ve seen a handful of 14 year-old guys nab OT cuts over the years, but it tends to be more common in the longer events. In 2016, 14 year-old Carson Foster swam the 400 IM at Trials, finishing 43rd, while 14 year-old Ethan Dang finished 125th in the 100 breast and 56th in the 200 breast.

That year, only three men as young as 16 swam the 50 free at Trials: Drew Kibler, Will Davis, and Blaise Vera.

While Heilman’s time today is certainly impressive, it’s hard to call it too surprising. He was already the fastest 13 year-old ever in the yards version of the 50 free, and he’s downed a number of NAGs for the 11-12 age group, albeit them all in yards. He’ll have two more chances to demonstrate his long course prowess this weekend, as he’s entered to swim the 100 fly tonight and the 100 free tomorrow.

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Cherie Alexander Witt
3 years ago

Congrats Thomas! A humble young man with an enormous gift and work ethic. When I taught him in PE in kindergarten it looked like someone dropped a 4th grader in our class, more because of skill level than size. He was on the taller side, but more impressive was his skill level. Having older brothers no doubt gave him a jump start in many ways, but he never got cocky, always a polite young man.

3 years ago

Not the first – Noel Strauss swam 23 for 50m free aged 13 in the 1980s btw

3 years ago

Congratulations Thomas!
Just keep climbing up, without looking down.

Coach Mike 1952
3 years ago


3 years ago

Does anyone have an actual photo of this beast? I really wonder how a guy should look like at 13 to drop 23.3 😰 Probably already shaving.

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Eugene
3 years ago

On a light note, I think the record is Moe in Calvin & Hobbes, he was the six-year old who shaves. LOL

Corn Pop
Reply to  Eugene
3 years ago

Hulk Smash ! Some kids just do stuff well . At . Skate Russia Kazan tiny 13 year old Sofia just skated 2x quads & a triple & they were things of beauty. It’s Kids Day !

3 years ago

Goodness. Just barely missed a trials cut — in the 50 at age 13

3 years ago

he’s insane omg

3 years ago

.72 faster than Michael Andrew’s National Age Group Record (13 Year Olds) in the 50… that is a scary proposition. Do we have any idea what the 13yo 50FR LCM World Record was before this? Very well might have belonged to Andrew, but just want to double check.

Last edited 3 years ago by EliteSwim99
Reply to  EliteSwim99
3 years ago

Chalmers was 24.00 at 13. 23.18 at 14

Coach Mike 1952
Reply to  Aussieone
3 years ago

More smoke!!

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