2023 Speedo Winter Junior Swimming Championships – WEST
- December 6-9, 2023
- FMC Natatorium, Westmont, Illinois
- Short Course Yards (25 yards), Prelims/Finals
- Prelims Start at 9AM US Central Daily (no prelims Wednesday); Finals Start at 6PM US Central Daily
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheet
- Live Results
The 2023 Speedo Winter Junior Swimming Championships kick off on Wednesday evening, with the West meet being held in Westmont, Illinois. The 2023 editions will be hosted in short course yards, with a long course time trial to follow on Sunday for swimmers chasing time standards for next summer’s US Olympic Trials.
The west field is loaded, with big names from Texas up to Illinois and out west to California all coming together in suburban Chicago for the meet. The huge geographic range of this meet means the coming-together of some massive head-to-head matchups that we don’t always get to see at Sectionals or other regional meets.
Among the big non-storylines is the absence of the Sandpipers of Nevada group, one of the top club programs in the country. That team will instead head to Sectionals in California a week after – giving the swimmers returning from the open water meet in Funchal, Portugal an extra week at home before hitting the road again.
Below are five of the top storylines to watch at an absolutely-loaded meet.
1. US National Teamers Collide
Not Junior National Teamers (there are a lot of those at this meet too), but full-throated senior National Team members will collide in the girls’ 200 IM where Leah Hayes from nearby Fox Valley Park District Riptides will square off with Teagan O’Dell from the Mission Viejo Nadadores in California.
The two have a couple of possible head-to-head matchups but the big one will be the 200 IM, where Hayes is the 2022 World Championships bronze medalist (in long course) and where O’Dell is the National High School Record holder (in yards).
Don’t be fooled by Hayes’ seed time – she was 1:54.09 in the 200 yard IM at the 2021 edition of this meet, which is just seven-tenths behind O’Dell’s best.
With O’Dell going to Cal in 2025 and Hayes to Virginia in 2024, this sets up a storyline that could be nationally relevant for many, many years into the future, especially with Cal and Virginia being in the same conference next season.
O’Dell also has entries in the 100 fly, 100 breast/200 breast, 100 back/200 back, and 100 free/500 free. Hayes’ other entries are in the 400 IM (top seed), 100/200 free, 100/200 breast, and 200 fly.
2. Piper Enge on the National Stage
Piper Enge is ‘what’s next’ on American women’s breaststroking, and she showed that by winning the long course Junior National title over the summer and taking a bronze medal in the 50 breast.
Her short course times caught up at the recent Washington High School State Championship meet, where she swam 58.95 to break the state record and become the first swimmer in the state’s high school swimming history to go under 1 minute.
If she saved something for Winter Juniors, we could see a big ‘pop’ here to really validate that momentum and confidence headed toward the Olympic Trials. With Olympic gold medalists Lilly King and Lydia Jacoby leading the way in the 100 breast, it seems like a tough nut to break through on, but we’ve seen much stranger things from teenagers with momentum in Olympic years.
3. Diggory Dillingham‘s Gap Year Check-In
Diggory Dillingham of the Bend Swim Club in Oregon is committed to USC – but he won’t arrive until fall of 2024, after taking a gap year to prepare for the Olympic Trials. Another member of the World Juniors Team (where he finished 7th in the 50 free in 22.75), Dillingham could be crucial to rebuilding American depth in the sprint frees after the Paris Olympics.
He’s only swum local meets since World Juniors, and only sparingly in the sprint freestyles that he’s best-known for (20.22 in the 50 and 45.41 in the 100 a month ago).
This will be a good check-in about how the gap year decision is progressing and whether he might make some noise next summer. His short course bests in yards are 19.52 in the 50 and 43.47 in the 100, both done at prior editions of the Winter Junior Championships, so history dictates that he should be locked-and-loaded for this one.
4. Lakeside Aquatic Club Boys Chasing History
The high school boys at the Lakeside Aquatic Club, many of whom also swim for Keller High School, are probably the most talented groups of male club athletes in the country – especially as a middle-distance group.
They have the top two seeds in the 200 free in Maximus Williamson (1:33.07) and Cooper Lucas (1:35.53), plus the #8 seed Max Hatcher (1:37.30). The 4th guy in that group is sprinter River Paulk went a 1:38.90 a month ago at a mid-season high school meet. The 4th guy on this club relay goes 1:38.90 – and he hasn’t even gotten a swim in it at a big championship.
They could obliterate the National Age Group Record for 17-18s of 6:22.78 on day 1 (it’s their record), which requires averaging 1:35.69s. That’s the obvious one. But this group is so diverse that they have a serious chance of taking a run at the 400 free relay record of 2:53.81 as well.
5. Maggie Wanezek Poised on a Precipice
Already one of the best high school backstrokers in history, Maggie Wanezek of the Elmbrook Swim Club doesn’t seem like she gets the national attention she deserves. A future Wisconsin Badger (2024), she gets a pair of monster head-to-head matchups with the aforementioned O’Dell to show it in the 100 yard back (O’Dell by .01) and 200 yard back (Wanezek by .37).
With the Wisconsin high school season already done, this is sort of her last big yards chance as a high school swimmer to grab that attention – both because of her times (which already speak for themselves) and by her ability to compete with, or even beat, big names like O’Dell and Hayes.
Wanezek feels like a swimmer ready to take center stage. With other great backstrokers like Finley Anderson, Charlotte Wilson, Alana Berlin, and Grace Rabb (from the Isabella Stadden/Rachel Boostma Aquajets backstroking legacy), this is a huge stage for her to step into.