Leah Smith, Isabella Rongione Rock 1500 Freestyle at Northern Speedo Sectionals

Event coverage sponsored by SpeedoUSA

BUFFALO, New York, March 21. DISTANCE was on the brain as the first night of competition wrapped up at the Northern Speedo Sectional Champions Series in Buffalo, New York. The long course meet showcased some young distance talent, with the women competing in the 1500 freestyle and the men taking on the 800 freestyle.

Jewish Community Center's Leah Smith smoked the field in 1500 LCM freestyle, with a 16:31.20, a time that places her second in the nation among 17 year olds. She currently sits in the rankings behind North Baltimore's Gillian Ryan, at a 16:21.59, swum at the CeraVe Invitational. Expect the rankings to change a number of times as club swimmers conclude their SCY seasons and move into the summer LCM season.

The Fish's Isabella Rongione, only 13 years old, placed second in the event, clocking a 16:43.10, a time that puts her first in the nation among 13-year-old girls. Rongione holds two 11-12 NAG records, set last year in the 800 (8:55.43) and 1500 (16:48.12) LCM freestyle events, records previously held by Clearwater Aquatic's Rebecca Mann. Rongione still has a ways to go before she touches Mann's 1500 freestyle 13-14 NAG record in the event, set at a 16:11.98 in 2012. However, to recognize how fast her 1500 time is among 13-year-olds, the previous number one spot in the nation in the event was held by Jena Pisani at a 17:58.68, over a 1:15 slower than Rongione. Rongione also currently holds top spots for 13 year old girls in the 800, 400 and 200 LCM freestyle events.

Rongione and Smith are the only two swimmers that broke the 17-minute mark, with third place going to Lindsay Stone at a 17:14.89.

The men swam the 800 meter freestyle on the first night of competition, with PJ Ransford of PACK Swim Team outdistancing his competition for the win. Ransford clocked a 8:17.94, just under the 2013 US Open time, but over 13 seconds ahead of second-place finisher Charles Cole of Berkeley Aquatics, who stopped the clock at an 8:31.30. Rounding out the top three was Neal Smith of the Jewish Community Center, who dropped ten seconds from his seed time for an 8:38.39.

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