ORLANDO, Florida, March 12. IN front of a worldwide audience on SwimmingWorld.TV, Clearwater's Matthew Hirschberger lowered a 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record in the men's 1000-yard freestyle. The live stream is being sponsored by Speedo USA, and all on-demand and other coverage material can be found at the event landing page.
Hirschberger, just 14, and another one of those distance freestyle dynamos from Clearwater under Randy Reese, blitzed the pool in a sizzling 9:02.37. That performance cleared the 9:07.95 set by Nicholas Caldwell back in 2008 at the Florida Spring Junior Olympic Championships. Caldwell has since swam three times faster with an 8:55.55 at the 2011 YMCA Nationals, and a 9:00.17 and 9:07.11.
Matthew Hirschberger Swim
Coming into tonight, Hirschberger had a previous lifetime best of 9:23.39 from the 2012 Florida Spa Saturday and Sunday Morning Race meet last November. Tonight, he obliterated that to become the fastest 14-year-old in the nation ever, and topped the finale for the NCSA title as Dynamo's Jay Litherland (9:04.76) and Tsunami's Tyler Fowler (9:05.82) took second and third in the distance freestyle event.
Hirschberger previously set the 11-12 U.S. National Age Group record in the event in 2011 with a 9:38.50 at the time, and is definitely following a similar trajectory to training partner Becca Mann, who has been claiming the lion's share of the limelight for Clearwater distance swimmers since her national-scene debut at the 2012 U.S. Olympic Trials netted her a handful of finals appearances. Reese definitely knows what he is doing down in Florida.
Mann, meanwhile, smoked the women's 1000-yard freestyle event with a victorious 9:31.79. She's got plenty of work to do to catch Olympian Katie Ledecky's 15-16 age group record of 9:22.35, but at just 15 she still has time to do it. Her performance this evening knocked eight seconds off her previous best time that occurred at the Florida Spa meet in November. Lakeside's Leah Stevens touched second in 9:38.34, while Dynamo's Kylie Stewart wound up third in 9:48.32.
Becca Mann's Swim
In 200-yard medley relay action, Zoe Avestruz, Olivia Anderson, Breinne Thorne and Kaia Grobe wore the Rachel Bootsma mantle quite well for the Aquajets as the foursome raced to victory in 1:40.66. Olympian Bootsma, now with the California Golden Bears, made a big name for herself with routinely-amazing sprint backstroke swims at the NCSA Junior Nationals. Her squad filled in quite well without her. An unnamed squad from Dynamo took second in 1:40.78, while Lakeside's Asia Seidt, Kennedy Lohman, Sarah Love and Brooke Bauer placed third in 1:41.74.
Rockville-Montgomery's Jack Conger, Austin Dickey, Jack Foster and Barrett Mangold ripped off a 1:30.25 to win the men's 200-yard medley relay with Conger scorching a 21.69 backstroke leadoff. Nationa's Capital's Philip Hu, Reid Penzler, Evan Owens and Paul O'Hara finished a close second in 1;30.80, while an unnamed Dayton Raider squad took third in 1:31.35.