Commentary: Was This the Best High School Swimming Season in History?

Commentary by Jeff Commings

PHOENIX, Arizona, May 21. THE 2012-2013 high school swimming season will be remembered as one of the most exciting in recent history, if only for the extraordinary number of national records broken in the past seven months.

Never has the staff at Swimming World had to make so many revisions to our national high school records list. Since November, 25 records have been set in 16 events, with two records — girls' 200 IM and 400 free relay — falling three times!

Typically, a high school season is highlighted by one or two swimmers who have amazing performances in their high school championships. Remember David Nolan's three national records over two days in March 2011? Or Dagny Knutson's seemingly unreachable record-setting swims in 2008 and 2009? I vividly remember Joe Hudepohl being the first to break three high school national records in 1991, and doing it on a half-taper with only his lower legs shaved. That same year, Bolles became the first high school squad under 3:00 in the 400 free relay.

And then there were the national high school records that doubled as American records. Jeff Kostoff's legendary 4:16.39 from 1983 and Kate Ziegler's 4:35.35 in 2006 were deemed unbreakable.

Collectively, the past seven months have slightly overshadowed those individual accomplishments. This season, records were broken by two Olympic champions, a world champion, four Olympic Trials finalists, a Singapore Olympian and a handful of junior nationals finalists. One of the records broken lasted for 30 years. It's tough to single out one or two of the performances that stand out. Olivia Smoliga becoming the first high school female under 22 seconds in the 50 freestyle is a landmark achievement. Jack Conger finally beating Kostoff's record caused everyone to say “Finally!” … including Kostoff himself. And that run of breaking all three relay records by Bolles last November shows the strength and depth of one of the top teams in the country. And as a breaststroker, I am amazed that three swimmers beat the national record in the boys' 100 breast in the same heat.

Yeah, it's too hard to pick the best high school swim of the year.

Below is the full list of national high school records broken since October 2012. Which of these would you say was the best?

50 freestyle
Boys
Ryan Murphy, 19.54 (relay leadoff). November 10, 2012 (national independent high school record)

Girls
Olivia Smoliga, 21.99, November 17, 2012 (overall and public high school record)

100 freestyle
Boys
Ryan Murphy, 42.95 (relay leadoff), November 10, 2012 (independent high school record)
Jack Conger, 42.81 (relay leadoff), February 9, 2013 (independent high school record)

200 freestyle
Girls
Katie Ledecky, 1:42.96, February 9, 2013 (independent high school record)

500 freestyle
Boys
Jack Conger, 4:13.87, February 9, 2013 (overall and independent high school record)

Girls
Katie Ledecky, 4:31.38, February 9, 2013 (overall and independent high school record)

100 back
Boys
Ryan Murphy, 45.34 (prelims), November 10, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)

Girls
Olivia Smoliga, 51.43, November 17, 2012 (overall and public high school record)

100 breast
Boys
Steven Stumph, 53.39, May 18, 2013 (overall and public high school record)
*Note: Charlie Wiser (53.57) and Nick Silverthorn (53.61) also broke the overall record in the same race.*

100 butterfly
Boys
Joseph Schooling, 46.50, November 10, 2013 (overall and independent high school record)
Connor Black, 46.71, February 23, 2013 (public high school record)

200 individual medley
Boys
Curtis Ogren, 1:45.01, May 10, 2013 (independent high school record)

Girls
Missy Franklin, 1:56.85, February 9, 2013 (independent high school record)
Kaitlyn Jones, 1:56.31, March 2, 2013 (independent high school record)
Ella Eastin, 1:55.15, May 10, 2013 (independent high school record)

200 medley relay
Boys
Bolles, 1:28.02, November 10, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)
Saline, 1:30.01, March 9, 2013 (public high school record)

200 free relay
Boys
Bolles, 1:20.88, October 6, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)
Bolles, 1:19.27, November 10, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)

400 free relay
Boys
Bolles, 2:58,58, October 6, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)
Bolles, 2:54.43, November 10, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)

Girls
Germantown, 3:21.63, February 23, 2012 (overall and independent high school record)
JSerra, 3:21.20, May 11, 2013 (overall and independent high school record)
Carondelet, 3:20.42, May 18, 2013 (overall and independent high school record)

It will be tough to top this high school season. We'll likely see Ledecky back in the high school pool next season, and Schooling will also be a key member of Bolles' team later this year at the Florida championships. They will make the 2013-2014 season a high-quality one, but when will we see this quantity of record-breaking swims again?

We're in the process of tabulating the results of all the high school championship swims to help us determine the Swimming World Magazine male and female high school swimmers of the year, as well as the top boys' and girls' high school teams. We'll name our swimmers of the year in the August issue of Swimming World Magazine, with the top teams to be announced in our September issue.

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