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ORLANDO, Florida, March 20. AFTER last night’s assault on the USA Swimming national age group records, tonight’s finals at the NCSA junior nationals would seem tame by comparison. But it was anything but tame, as several swimmers continued to collect wins with impressive times.
Simone Manuel started off the night with a lifetime best in winning the 200 free. The First Colony star’s 1:43.00 puts her in a three-way tie for 15th-fastest performer in history with Sara Isakovic and Christine Magnuson. Swimming from lane eight, Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart placed second with a personal best 1:44.66, while Katherine Drabot of Ozaukee Aquatics finished third in 1:45.22.
Townley Haas is on his way to becoming the male swimmer of the meet, collecting his third win in the 200 free with a personal best 1:35.26. Tristan Sanders, last night’s 200 back winner, finished second with a 1:36.32 and Liam Egan of Crimson placed third with a 1:36.79.
In the B final, Michael Andrew took down one of the few national age group records he does not own in the 13-14 age group, swimming a 1:38.31 to beat Maxime Rooney’s 1:38.42 from 2012. Andrew placed fourth in the B final, with Tabahn Afrik claiming the heat win with a 1:37.80. It looks like Andrew will close out his time in the 13-14 age group with all but three of the short course yards records, leaving the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyles untouched.
Ozaukee’s Samantha Senczyszyn followed up her 100 breast win from last night with a 28.08 to win the 50 breast tonight. Olivia Anderson of Aquajets finished second with a 28.19 while Ingrid Wall of New Trier got third in 28.50.
The top three in the men’s 100 breast also placed in the top three in tonight’s 50 breast, though with a slightly different order. Connor Hoppe of Clovis Swim Club, last night’s 100 breast runner-up, took the 50 breast with a 24.57 to the 24.76 posted by 100 breast champion Carsten Vissering. Michael Andrew collected another bronze medal with a 24.76.
Not long after competing in the 200 free final, Stewart and Drabot were back in the 400 IM. Stewart had a big lead after backstroke, but Drabot stole that lead in the breaststroke leg and held on in freestyle to win with a personal best 4:09.43 to Stewart’s 4:10.22, another personal best. Syndey Lofquist tried to catch Stewart on freestyle, but ran out of room and posted a 4:10.90 for third in yet another personal best.
Swimming unshaved at this meet, Gunnar Bentz looked to be no match for the tapered Sam McHugh, who took the 400 IM out hard in the first half. Bentz is known to post a blistering backhalf in his IM races, which he did to great success at the junior world championships last summer. He pulled even with McHugh after breaststroke and the two were neck-and-neck for 100 yards of freestyle. It was Bentz who was able to pull off the win with an impressive 3:45.53, made even more impressive by his physical state. McHugh also posted a personal best with a 3:45.81 for second, while Jae Park of NASA Wildcat Aquatics snuck in for third with a 3:50.30 using a strong second 200 as well.
Janet Hu of Nation’s Capital showed off her versatility with a win in the 50 butterfly with a time of 23.40, beating out Elizabeth Nelson and her 23.80. Mary Schneider of Academy Bullets was third with a 24.21.
Luke Kalisak’s first individual appearance in the championship final was a gold medal in the 50 butterfly with a 21.30. Using strong underwater dolphin kicks, he held off Michael Andrew, who was second with a 21.49, and Bentz, who placed third with a 21.55 less than 10 minutes after his 400 IM.
Thanks to a superior anchor leg by Hu, Nation’s Capital won the women’s 400 free relay with a 3:19.27. She passed the Aquajets team, which was in the lead going into the anchor leg but settled for second with a 3:20.06. Ozaukee rounded out the top three with a 3:21.03.
Nation’s Capital went 1-3 in the men’s 400 free relay. With Andrew Seliskar starting off his meet with a 44.06 leadoff (after a 20.90 opening 50 yards), the team posted a strong 2:57.83. Bentz tried to give Dynamo a chance at the win, but that team settled for second with a 3:00.54 to keep Nation’s Capital from taking the top two spots. The “B” team from Nation’s Capital, swimming in the second-fastest heat, posted a 3:00.93 for third overall in the timed-final event.