YMCA Nationals is under way at Greensboro Aquatic Center in Greensboro, North Carolina, and there was a ton of fast swimming on day one, highlighted by seven (yes, seven) new meet records.
Women’s 50 free
15-year old Katrina Konopka of Middle Tyger started the night off with a bang, winning the women’s 50 free handily and setting a new meet record with a time of 22.55. The old record (22.67) was established back in 2010 by two-time NCAA individual champion and current Arizona Wildcat Margo Geer. That’s easily the top time in the country of anybody her age this season (Amy Bilquist, at 22.84, had the previous best), and it puts her 15th on the all-time list for 15-16 year olds. Shannon Rauth of Upper Main Line ducked under the :23 barrier for the first time, finishing 2nd in 22.86. Chase Kinney of North Canton (Ohio), who will compete at the University of Wisconsin next season, was third in 23.10.
Men’s 50 free
On the men’s side, Ryan Held of Springfield became the first swimming under :20 in YMCA Nationals history, clocking in at 19.92. Remarkably, the junior from Illinois is one of ten high schoolers to break through that time this season (he’s 9th fastest among them). Held is a class of 2014 recruit, and if he continues to have a good week, he’ll grab a lot of attention as recruiting season heats up. Ian Gordon of Pabst Farms (Wisconsin) was also under the old meet record (20.19, set last year by Josh Fleagle), finishing 2nd in 20.19. Colin Ellington of YMCA of the Triangle Area was 3rd in 20.21.
Women’s 200 breast
After watching Sarasota’s Bethany Leap drop three seconds from her best time to break the old meet record in the preliminaries, University of North Carolina commit Abby Fisher of Lakeland Hills (New Jersey) decided she wanted a piece of the action. Fisher, a senior attending the University of North Carolina this fall, out-dueled Leap over the final 100 yards to win in 2:12.16. Leap, who clocked a 2:11.85 this morning to break Amy Wheatley’s 11-year-old record, had to settle for 2nd in finals, touching in 2:12.25. Kendra Crew of Springfield (Ohio) was 3rd in 2:12.74.
Notably, 14-year-old Savanna Faulconer was 4th in 2:13.32, putting her 7th on the all-time list for 13-14 girls in that event.
Men’s 200 breast
Although he didn’t challenge the meet record in this event (it’s a ridiculous 1:55.81 from Cal All-American Christian Higgins), Eric Ronda of Wilton, Connecticut put together a dominant performance to win in 1:56.91. Ronda, who is committed to Harvard, took control on the second 50 of this race and didn’t look back. Connor McHugh of Door County (Wisconsin) cut two full seconds off his best to touch 2nd in 1:59.00, and Zach Warner of Somerset Valley was 3rd (2:00.10).
Women’s 1000 free
The Sarasota Sharks have been known as the premier distance swimming program at this meet for nearly a decade, and tonight proved to be no different: the Sharks put three swimmers in the top 5, led by 17-year-old Danielle Valley, who blew away the field to win in 9:27.19. The future Florida Gator smashed the old meet record (9:39.09, set in 2007 by former Sarasota Shark and Florida Gator Corrine Showalter), dropping over 15 seconds off her best to touch in 9:27.19. That’s the 6th fastest time ever for a 17-18 girl, and the five names in front of her on that list are an impressive bunch: Katie Hoff, Kate Ziegler, Janet Evans, Gillian Ryan, and Chloe Sutton. A pair of young guns finished 2nd and 3rd; 15-year-old Casey Jernberg of Schroeder (Wisconsin) was 2nd (9:44.98), and 13-year-old Courtney Harnish of York YMCA in Pennsylvania was 3rd (9:48.83).
Men’s 1000 free
16-year-old Alexander Katz kept Sarasota rolling, touching in 8:57.80 for the win, the 4th fastest time ever for a 15-16 swimmer. Katz was well ahead of Nicholas Caldwell‘s meet record (8:55.55) for much of the race before falling off the pace right after the 600-mark. Brandon Flynn of York finished safely in the 2nd place spot, clocking in at 9:05.40. Katz’ teammate Matt O’Donnell was 3rd in 9:14.61.
Women’s 200 medley relay
The lightning-fast swimming continued through the final women’s event of the night, where the top six teams all swam under the old meet record. York YMCA ultimately came out on top, thanks to a great 24.10 fly leg from Niki Price, touching in 1:42.27. Sarasota finished 2nd in 1:42.54, showing they can still carry some speed despite their distance focus. Sunbury Branch YMCA benefitted from a smoking 22.10 from Adriana Grabski to finish 3rd (1:42.63).
Men’s 200 medley relay
Somerset Valley YMCA finished the night off by breaking another barrier, becoming the first team at YMCA Nationals to dip under 1:30 in the 200 medley reley. Dylan Sali (22.73), Zach Warner (24.57), David Chung (22.32), and Brad Zdroik (20.24) combined to finish in 1:29.86, smashing the old standard of 1:30.91 by Schroeder YMCA (notably, that relay was led off by Arizona All-American and American Record-Holder Mitchell Friedemann). That quartet joined Bolles and SwimMAC Carolina as the only teams to crack 1:30 this season. Red Bank was 2nd (1:31.88), and Wilton was 3rd (1:32.70).