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ORLANDO, Florida, March 22. NATION’S Capital ran away with the team title to close out the NCSA short course junior national championships, winning five of the 10 events tonight. Simone Manuel also was a major highlight, setting the only national age group record of the evening.
Elizabeth Nelson had been placing second and third in many of her races this weekend, but finally captured a gold medal, posting a 24.07 to win the women’s 50 backstroke. Dynamo’s Kylie Stewart captured second place with a 24.41 as Nation’s Capital star Janet Hu and her impressive underwater kicks couldn’t get the win, taking third with a 24.46.
Baylor’s Luke Kaliszak backed up his 100 backstroke win with a victory in the 50 back with a 21.43. Andrew Seliskar of Nation’s Capital couldn’t match Kaliszak’s underwater work, placing second with a 21.73. Team Suffolk’s Justin Plaschka captured third with a 22.18.
Isabella Rongione, swimming unattached but wearing the Nation’s Capital swim cap, had no trouble winning the 1650 freestyle. The 14-year-old posted a personal best 16:09.48, while 15-year-old teammate Megan Byrnes was second with a 16:15.29. Another 15-year-old, Chenoa Devine, was third with a 16:20.33.
Next up was the women’s 200 IM, and Hu showed off her versatility, outsplitting the field in every stroke and taking the title with a personal best 1:57.10. Also swimming a personal best were the second- and third-place swimmers, with Nelson taking the silver in 1:57.88 over Stewart’s 1:57.97.
Seliskar was easily the class of the field in the men’s 200 IM, breaking away early and posting a 1:43.76, just five tenths slower than his personal best from last December. That time would rank in the top 20 among this year’s NCAA Division I swimmers – and he’s only recently turned 17. Also swimming impressive was Gunnar Bentz of Dynamo, who approached his personal best of 1:45.17 with a runner-up time of 1:46.45. Baylor’s Sam McHugh nearly beat his lifetime best of 1:46.29 in placing third with a 1:46.64.
Manuel’s national age group record came in the 50 freestyle, as she cracked the 22-second barrier with a 21.70. That time beat Hu’s mark of 21.82 from last year. Hu challenged her personal best, but couldn’t get past the barrier and settled for second with a 22.27. Nelson picked up another top-three finish with a 22.56.
Only one swimmer broke 20 seconds in the men’s free, and it happened to be James Jones of Nation’s Capital, who grabbed his first individual title of the meet with a 21.99. It’s a personal best for the 16-year-old, who still has .45 seconds to reach Ryan Hoffer’s national age group record of 19.54. Seliskar posted a 20.06 for second place to improve on his personal best by one hundredth of a second. Michael Andrew took third with a 20.09, unable to get close to his 13-14 national age group record of 19.85.
Townley Haas of Nova of Virginia was in line to take a fifth individual title, but Patrick Ransford had other plans. Representing Pack Swim Team of Pittsford, Ransford dropped 34 seconds off his lifetime best of 15:20.33 to win with a 14:46.40. Averaging in the low 27-second range for most of the race, Ransford put up too fast of a pace for Haas, who still got a lifetime best in placing second with a 14:59.94. Matthew Hirschberger of Nation’s Capital made a move on Haas in the closing 400, but settled for third with a 15:05.49. Notably, Hirschberger’s lap counter miscounted, causing Hirschberger to swim an extra 50 yards.
The Aquajets Swim Team in Minneosta has been strong in the relays all week, and finally notched a win in the women’s 400 medley relay with a 3:38.99. Hu tried to take over the lead on freestyle, but ran out of room and gave her team second with a 339.42. Dynamo Swim Club was third with a 3:40.53.
Nation’s Capital ran away with the title in the final race of the meet, the men’s 400 medley relay, posting a 3:12.58. Baylor Swim Club put up a challenge throughout, finishing second with a 3:15.63 while Dynamo notched third with a 3:17.80.
Nation’s Capital trounced the competition in the team points, winning the women’s division with 1,111 points over Aquajets’ 614, the men’s division with 947 points to Nova’s 590 and the overall competition with 2,058 points to Dynamo’s 1,039.