Top 8 U.S. Junior Men To Watch At The 2019 U.S. Open Championships


  • December 4th-7th, 2019
  • McCauley Aquatic Center, Georgia Tech, Atlanta, Georgia
  • LCM (50m), Prelims/Finals
  • Psych Sheets

With the 2019 U.S. Open coming up, we’re less than seven months away from the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials. While the U.S. Open has virtually nothing to do with this summer’s championships and subsequent Olympics, it’s a good litmus test on the state of U.S. swimming: Which stars look good right now? Which don’t? Who is on the rise? We’ll see many of the top athletes in the country here at a winter championship where we don’t always see such a density of talent.

In this post, we’ll highlight eight of the top U.S. junior men to watch out for. Before we get started, a standard disclaimer: these lists are not exhaustive. They almost never are. Period.

Without further ado, here are SwimSwam’s top eight U.S. junior men to watch for at the 2019 U.S. Open Championships (in no particular order):

Carson Foster

One of the top two high school seniors in the nation on the boys side, Foster is a versatile standout who has a shot at an Olympic team next year in an uncertain American IM landscape. He was the world junior champ in the 200 IM last summer, and already ranks #2 nationally this season. He’s been more of an ‘enter-everything’ type of swimmer in the past, but has pared his event lineup down to just one race a day in Atlanta: he’s got the 200 IM (where he’s the 4th seed), 400 IM (3rd seed) and 200 fly (23rd seed).

Luca Urlando

Urlando nipped Foster for the title of #1 recruit in the class, and both are strong 2020 Olympic hopefuls. Urlando took on a busy schedule at 2019 World Juniors and won five golds: the 200 free, 200 fly, boys 4×200 free relay, boys 4×100 free relay and mixed 4×100 free relay. He finished last season as the top American 200 flyer of any age, breaking a National Age Group (NAG) record for 17-18s – the previous record was held by Michael PhelpsUrlando is currently behind only Phelps (1:51.51) and Tyler Clary (1:53.64) in the all-time U.S. ranks.

Urlando has a full lineup in Atlanta: the 200 IM and 400 free on day 2, 100 fly and 200 free on day 3, and 100 free and 200 fly on day 4.

Hunter Armstrong

18-year-old Hunter Armstrong has been one of the fastest-rising swimmers among the American junior ranks. As of July, he held best times of 23.3 and 50.8 in the 50 and 100 freestyles. Then at Junior Nationals, he smashed his way to a 22.5 and a 49.7, ranking 3rd and 7th among Americans under 18 for the season. Armstrong is now a freshman at West Virginia, and this meet is probably serving as his mid-season rest – he’s a major candidate for a headline-grabbing breakout. Watch for him to move up from his current all-time age group rankings of 15th in the 50 and 23rd in the 100.

James Plage

Another fast riser is 17-year-old James Plagewho just aged up from the 15-16 age group since summer season. Plage finished the summer with highly-ranking all-time age group swims in the 400 free (11th all-time), 800 free (14th) and 1500 free (9th). Those came with big season-long drops: from 4:02 to 3:53 in the 400, 8:19 to 8:03 in the 800 and 15:54 to 15:16 in the 1500. Continuing that progression would allow Plage to check into the top 50 or so all-time in the 17-18 age group, and could also help him crack the American season ranks for swimmers of any age. Current national leaders for the season have been 3:48/8:04/15:12, though we’d expect those times to drop significantly this week.

Jack Dolan

Another 18-year-old college freshman, Dolan is coming off a pair of lifetime-bests at the NC State Invite about two weeks ago. The Arizona State Sun Devil cut down to 43.5 and 1:34.6 in the short course 100 and 200 frees. He also had some massive relay splits and was a tenth off a lifetime-best 50 free. Dolan is entered in the 50, 100 and 200 frees in Atlanta, along with the 100 back, and should be chasing lifetime-bests in all four, if he swims them all. Last summer, he hit career-bests in meters of 50.11 and 1:49.80.

Braeden Haughey

One of the youngest male swimmers entered in the meet, the 15-year-old Haughey is also among the youngest male Olympic Trials qualifiers so far this Olympic cycle. Haughey is still on the younger end of the 15-16 age group, but already ranks 32nd in USA Swimming history within the age group in the 200 back (2:02.17 from August) and 40th in the 400 free (3:56.42 from August). Those constituted some huge drops. In fact, Haughey hadn’t been under 2:04 in the back or 4:00 in the free coming into the season.

Destin Lasco

2018 Junior Pan Pacs champ Lasco is a versatile talent who is entered in six events in Atlanta: the 50/100/200 frees, 100/200 back and the 200 IM. Last season, he ranked 5th among American juniors in the 100 free, 5th in the 200 IM, 10th in the 100 back, and 11th in the 200 free. The high school senior has been dropping steadily in the 200-meter races: last summer, he went from 2:04 to 2:02 in the IM, 2:03 to 2:01 in the back and 1:50 to 1:49 in the free.

Brendan Burns

Burns is another college freshman competing in his last season as an under-18. Burns finished 4th among all American juniors in the 200 fly last season, and 22nd among Americans of any age. The Indiana Hoosier rookie is a standout in butterfly, backstroke and freestyle, though he’s only entered in the 100s and 200s of fly and free in Atlanta. He’s coming off of strong season-bests in short course yards at the Tennessee Invite, including a lifetime-best 1:41.4 in the 200 fly and a near-lifetime-best of 46.1 in the 100 fly.

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2 years ago

The women’s juniors US Open page had
OTHER TOP JUNIORS EXPECTED TO RACE THIS WEEK, will the men’s page get this as well?

Reply to  SwimDad
2 years ago

You looking for your son?

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

*Finding Nemo flashbacks*

Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Just curious as to the difference

2 years ago

Lasco becomes more… what?

PK Doesn’t Like His Long Name
Reply to  SwimmerTX
2 years ago

Full of swimming.

2 years ago

Strange that Foster is swimming 2 fly instead of 2 free and 2 back, his better events. I would think he would try see where he is at now by swimming his (assumed) ot events against some guys like these.

Reply to  Dbswims
2 years ago

Just guessing but 4im and 2free are same day and back to back. He had to chose one. Not sure about 2fly and 2 back but maybe they just chose fly?..

2 years ago

Let’s go James ♦️

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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