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By guest writer Julia Wilkinson-Minks (2008 & 2012 Canadian Olympian)
IRVINE, California, August 6. WORLD Championships may be over, but there are still plenty of fast swims happening around the globe. Back on US soil, young Olympic hopefuls are finishing off their seasons at the Speedo Junior National Championships. Although swimmers like Missy Franklin and Katie Ledecky may be building up our immunity to impressive youngsters, you can’t help but be wowed by some of the winning times coming out of Irvine.
Although fast teenaged girls winning gold medals for their countries and overhauling the record books may not be all that rare, when teenaged boys do it, it is a little bit more surprising. It is no secret that male swimmers develop later than females, and the average age of a men’s international final is usually older than the women’s.
On the first night of finals, Andrew Seliskar wowed the crowd with his meet-record win in the 200 butterfly. The 16-year old from Nation’s Capital Swim Club–home of Ledecky–swam the event in 1:56.54. This time almost cracked the top 20 in the world, putting him into 21st place. Not bad for a 16-year-old boy.
The time gets more impressive as you really start to compare it. This time would have earned him 12th at World Championships: not the top eight needed to make a run at a medal, but a swim in the semi-finals. And had he swum this time at World Championship trials in June, yes, he would have earned a spot on the team. This would have put him four hundredths ahead of second place Tyler Clary, and on his way to Barcelona.
This time is also half a second faster than the Canadian record, but still falls about two seconds short of the 15-16 American National Age Group record of 1:54.58: granted, that record is held by the great Michael Phelps, and will likely stand until California finally breaks off the continent.
In any other country, a swim like this from a 16-year-old would seemingly guarantee that Seliskar is on his way to joining his fellow NCAP teammate on the National Team next summer. However, with the depth in the United States between Olympic medalists and up-and-comers, there is no guarantee for anyone, especially if a swimmer becomes complacent. No doubt Seliskar is fully aware that his time would have beaten Clary’s at trials, and this will only fuel his fire to ensure he does not miss his rookie opportunity next summer.
One thing is clear: there is something in the water at Nation’s Capital Swim Club, and it is not just Katie Ledecky.
Julia Wilkinson-Minks is a two-time Olympian for Canada and was a finalist in the 200-meter IM at the 2008 Beijing Games. In 2010, she became Texas A&M’s first ever NCAA champion in swimming when she won the 100-yard freestyle. She graduated from Texas A&M with a degree in Speech Communication. Julia retired from competitive swimming following the London Olympic Games and now lives in Texas with her husband Shane.
Follow her on twitter @juliah2o