Weekly Wonders of Age Group Swimming – 9/15/2023

Our Weekly Wonders of Age Group Swimming series celebrates swimmers of every age and experience level with age group profiles of some recent results.

Jordan Willis, 16, SwimMAC Carolina (NC): One of the more underrated swims from Americans at the World Junior Championships, Willis followed up his PB from the prelims of the 200 breast (2:13.41) by dropping a time of 2:12.07 in the final, winning silver in a very competitive field after turning 5th at the halfway mark. That swim ranks Willis #3 all-time in the boys’ 15-16 age group, and marks more than a three-second improvement over the last three months, as he entered U.S. Nationals with a PB of 2:15.51, and went 2:13.50 at that meet in late June.

Madi Mintenko, 16, Pikes Peak Athletics (CO): Mintenko delivered a standout performance in the girls’ 400 free final at World Juniors last week, as she roared home from 4th at the last turn to win silver in a time of 4:08.06, moving her into #9 all-time in the girls’ 15-16 age group. The Pike Peak Athletics product, who was the second-youngest swimmer in the field (in the final, having only turned 16 in August), knocked two seconds off her previous best of 4:10.34 set at U.S. Nationals in June. She also anchored the U.S. to gold with a 1:57.45 split in the 800 free relay, more than half a second under her flat-start PB, as the Americans edged out Australia by just two-tenths of a second.

Austin Chu, 13, CSP Tideriders (OZ): Chu had a very strong start to the season at the Seahawks Dive Back In meet (SCY), setting personal best times across six different events. Among those were times of 52.50 in the 100 fly and 53.38 in the 100 back. The 100 fly performance would’ve ranked Chu tied for 14th last season among 13-year-olds, while the 100 back would’ve been good for 19th in 2022-23. The CSP Tideriders swimmer also went 22.60 in the 50 free, 50.71 in the 100 free, 24.29 in the 50 back and 53.77 in the 100 IM.

Emma Fouke, 12, CSP Tideriders (OZ): Fouke, Chu’s Tideriders teammate, also had an exceptional showing at the Dive Back In meet, setting new lifetime bests in nine events. Her performance was highlighted by what she did in the breaststroke events, as she went 31.06 in the 50 breast and 1:07.10 in the 100, both of which would’ve ranked 7th in the 2022-23 season in the girls’ 11-12 age group.

Reef McMeeking, 12, Hydro4 Swimming (FL): McMeeking thrived at the Hydro4 Fall Classic (SCY) in Ormond Beach, FL, hitting eight best times in three days of racing. The 12-year-old notably went 29.67 in the 50 breast, coming within half a second of cracking the all-time top 100 in the boys’ 11-12 age group while posting a time that would’ve ranked 15th in the age group last season. His new PB of 4:27.54 in the 400 IM, which was only his second time racing the event and marked a 17-second drop from 12 months prior, would’ve ranked 7th among 11-12s last season. He added best times in the 50 free (24.29), 200 free (1:53.68), 100 back (59.97), 200 back (2:11.02), 100 fly (58.96) and 100 IM (58.86).

Ella Busquets, 14, Diablo Aquatics (PC): Busquets, who trains out of Diablo Aquatics in the U.S. but represents Puerto Rico internationally, was in action at the 2023 World Juniors despite being just 14 years of age. One of the younger swimmers competing, Busquets set a best time of 29.75 in the 50 back, breaking 30 for the first time to place 23rd overall. She also narrowly missed her best time of 1:03.62 in the 100 back, clocking 1:03.78 to place 22nd, and she also raced the 50 free, 100 free, 200 back and 100 fly.

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About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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