The 2011 edition of the Tom Dolan Invite has traded momentum back-and-forth with the nearby NBAC Christmas Meet, but on Sunday afternoon it was Dolan at the University of Maryland that earned the final fireworks.
That included two National Age Group records, most notably one by Jack Conger of Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club in the 200 back.
After Ryan Murphy took down Conger’s 15-16 200 back mark on Saturday at Winter Junior Nationals, Conger was motivated to get his name back behind an individual mark in the short course record books. He did that by swimming a 1:40.41 in the 200 back, which cleared the 2009 swim by Max Murphy of 1:40.53 in the event.
Though I think most of the swimming community saw this record going down, it was perhaps a bit of a surprise for it to go down so early into Conger’s time in the age group, as he’s still only 17. That stands as a three-second career-best for him. It would be surprising if he got any lower this short course season, as last year he did his big taper for this Tom Dolan meet and just a “rest” at NCSA Jr. Nationals in March. Expect the same pattern with Trials coming up in June.
Record number two to go by the wayside was the 11-12 boys’ 100 IM mark by the young sprinter extraordinairre Michael Andrew, who trains with his dad Peter in Lawrence, Kansas. He swam a 55.05 in the final to win, and was even faster in prelims with a 54.66 (for those unfamiliar with what good 100 IM times look like, that’s really fast). That takes down the mark of 55.56 by Tanner Kurz set in 2006.
What continues to be striking about Andrew is the margins by which he’s taking down some of these records. There have been other very tall 12-year olds to come through the age group ranks before (he’s breaking the records of some of those “tall kids”), but few have just demolished sprint records as Andrew has. In the 50 free, for example, he’s gone under the old record at three separate meets in 4 weeks, lowering it by a total of about 4-tenths, and this 100 IM mark he took down by half-a-second.
Percentage-wise, these swims are in the same 1-2% range of improvement as was Katie Ledecky’s smashing of the 500 free record by 5 seconds. There’s some food for thought.
Sneaking in behind Andrew, and not to be overlooked, in that 11-12 100 IM was Devin Truong of Rockville-Montgomery in a 56.47. That time puts him 8th on the all-time age group list, just behind legendary age-grouper Maverick Smalley.
In other swims, Janet Hu of Curl Burke and Kaitlyn Jones of the Delaware Swim Team continued to go toe-to-toe in this meet. As the races ge tlonger, the balance tips more towards Jones’ favor, which showed up in the pair’s first event – the 200 back.
Jones would win that event in another new Potomac Valley Swimming (PVS) record of 1:55.05 (which crushed the old mark held by Michelle Parkhurst by over two seconds). She really put Hu away with a great closing 50 burst (29.32 to Hu’s 29.64). Hu also went under the old PVS (and pool) record with a 1:56.07.
Hu’s younger teammate Kristina Li, only 15, also had a strong 1:59.00 for 4th place.
After Hu won the 200 fly in 1:57.88 (ahead of Emma Nunn from the strong NOVA 200 fly tradition in 1:58.90), she and Jones went head-to-head again in the 200 IM to close the individual portion of the meet. This time, it was Hu who put in the closing kick (26.62 to Jones’ 27.59) to accelarate to a victory.
Hu’s time was 2:00.26, which is 3.03 seconds better than her previous best (a winter taper is typical for her), and Jones came in at 2:00.46. She’s been much better than that, but her taper is usually saved for the Delaware State Championships in February.
Rounding out the women’s invidual competition was a 1-2 finish from Rockville-Montgomery, headed by a 51.12 from Corrigan McIlmail. That puts her in the top 15 amongst 15-year olds in this 2011-2012 short course season. Her teammate Natalya Ares was 2nd in 51.59. The two would combine for a 3:26.47 victory in the meet-closing 500 free relay.
In the 13-14 group of that same Girls’ 100 free, Lily Dubroff (50.58) and Vale Yoshimura (50.83) also put up great times that should earn them spots on the top-16 lists at season’s end.
The Men’s 200 IM came down to a photo finish between William Nicely of Quest Swimming and Brian Rothschild of Curl Burke. Rothschild had a good-sized lead headed into the freestyle fifty, but Nicely’s closing charge brought the race down to a final stroke.
Nicely ultimately got his hand to the wall first in 1;51.78 to Rothschild’s 1:51.83.
In other age group swims, Curl Burke’s Cassidy Bayer dominated the 11-12 girls’ 100 fly in 56.81. This girl has scary potential – coming into the fall, her best time was a 59, and she’s already been 56 twice this season. No other 11-12 in the country has been better than a 58.4.
She’s established a trend of swimming faster in this race at basically every event, regardless of spacing and timing, and with a March taper meet to go before she turns 13, Bayer could take a serious run at Ella Eastin’s NAG mark of 55.5.
(Much to the chagrin of the Curl Burke coaching staff, she took out the 400 IM on Friday in a 59.3 in her second ever attempt at the event. Needless to say, she was a bit gassed by the time she got through the backstroke leg, and finished in 4:43. A good learning experience for her, none-the-less.)
And the last event we’ll highlight will be the first event of the meet. Fourtneen-year old Katie Ledecky took a 33-second win in the 1000 free in 9:36.92, which is 7 seconds off of her NAG record time from early November. That’s still one of the better times you’ll ever see from a swimmer of that age.
In the corresponding boys’ 1650, Garrett Powell crushed the PVS LSC record in 14:58.83. The Rockville-Montgomery product will head to Georgia next season, and another huge time drop (this time 30 seconds – he’s been doing similar things throughout this meet) makes him even more valuable in a stout Georgia class.
Get this – between William freeman, Martin Grodzki, Andre Gemmell, and the incoming Garrett Powell, and Matias Koski (am I missing any?), the Bulldogs will have at least 5 guys next season who have broken 15 minutes in the mile at the beginning of the year. Ediz Yildirimer is only 3 seconds away, and given that he was at 15:03 a full year ago, he should easily break that barrier as well prior to arriving in Athens.
At NCAA’s last year, sub-15 earned top-14 scoring. Can anybody say “woof”?