NISCA All-American Showcase: Jill Sterkel, Anthony Robinson Among the Most Ahead-Of-Their-Time 50 Frees

PHOENIX, Arizona, July 11. AS part of our 11-day series highlighting the National Interscholastic Swim Coaches Association’s release of the 2013-14 All-America lists, Swimming World will also be looking at the history of each event that is part of the high school schedule. Today, we’re looking at the 50-yard free. Both of today’s swimmers had some ahead-of-their-time performances in the sprint.

Similar to Caeleb Dressel’s barrier-breaking swims this season in the 50-yard free, where he became the first 18-and-under to break 19 seconds in the event, Houston Memorial’s Anthony Robinson was the first high schooler under 20 seconds in 1997.

Robinson not only broke Joe Hudepohl’s national record of 20.01, set twice in 1991 and 1992, the future Stanford Cardinal did it twice in one weekend. Robinson first clocked a 19.98 in prelims, which led to a five-minute standing ovation from the crowd at the Texas High School Championships. The following day, Robinson clocked a sizzling 19.91 in finals.

It took a couple of future Olympic standouts in the early 2000s to knock Robinson off the top of the mountain. In 2002, Michael Cavic of Tustin, Calif., cut a huge amount of time from the mark to push the record to a 19.69. Matt Grevers followed the next year with a 19.83 for the first back-to-back years with swimmers in the 19s.

This year, a total of five high school swimmers cleared 20 seconds, which means that Robinson would have finished sixth in the nation on the NISCA All-American lists with his 17-year-old time.

1974, 20.6, Andy Coan, Pine Crest
1975, 20.19, Andy Coan, Pine Crest
1976, 20.98, Andy Coan, Pine Crest
1977, 20.72, Michael Kelly, Fountain Valley
1978, 20.824, Donald Hornby, Nova
1979, 20.44, T. Ryan Yantis, Cordova Senior
1980, 20.63, Chris Cavanaugh, Lynbrook
1981, 20.66, Lee Cassidy, Westminster
1982, 20.48, John Sauerland, Shaker Heights
1983, 20.40, Matt Biondi, Campolindo
1984, 20.57, Paul Wallace, Gulliver Prep
1985, 20.25, John Matson, Mercersburg Academy
1986, 20.35, Todd Pace, Westfield
1987, 20.38, Byron Davis, Hawken
1988, 20.26, Brian Kurza, Hinsdale South
1989, 20.22, Doug Dickinson, Amarillo
1990, 20.16, Josh Delcore, Cherry Creek
1991, 20.01, Joe Hudepohl, St. Xavier
1992, 20.01, Joe Hudepohl, St. Xavier
1993, 20.30, Gary Hall, Brophy Prep
1994, 20.27, Derya Buyukuncu, Woodbridge
1995, 20.38, Glenn Counts, Kingwood
1996, 20.33, Mik Bittinger, Malvern Prep
1997, 19.91, Antony Robinson, Memorial
1998, 20.17, Leffie Crawford, Junipero Serra
1999, 20.21, Anthony Ervin, William S. Hart
2000, 20.44, Eddy Matkovich, Upper Arlington
2001, 20.21, Michael Cavic, Tustin
2002, 19.69, Michael Cavic, Tustin
2003, 19.83, Matt Grevers, Lake Forest
2004, 20.17, Joe Whittington, Garces Memorial
2005, 20.22, Forbes Alexander, Lyman
2006, 20.19, Nathan Adrian, Bremerton
2007, 20.10, Brian Alden, Neuqua Valley
2008, 19.49, Jimmy Feigen, Winston Churchill
2009, 19.74, Giles Smith, McDonogh
2010, 19.43, Vlad Morozov, Torrance
2011, 19.58, David Nolan, Hershey
2012, 19.62, Erik Risolvato, Lima Shawnee
2013, 19.54, Ryan Murphy, Bolles School
2014, 19.29, Caeleb Dressel, Clay

Since 1974, only one swimmer in either the boys or the girls events has accomplished a career sweep atop an event in the NISCA All-American lists during their high school career – Jill Sterkel. She did it in both the 50 and 100 frees. Her top time in the 50 free came in 1979 when she blasted her way to a 22.91. That was her second year under 23 as she had clocked a 22.99 just two years prior.

Sterkel, swimming for Wilson High, had an amazing meet at the 1979 Southern California CIF Championships. She set the national high school records in both the 50 free with the 22.91 and in the 100 fly with a 54.99. Earlier in the year, Sterkel had already set the American record in the 100 fly with a 53.76, and decided to capture the high school mark as well in her senior season. Sterkel also took down the 100 free high school mark with a 49.77.

1979 was a strong year for Sterkel as she went on to compete at the Pan American Games before swimming collegiately at the University of Texas. Sterkel had already won Olympic gold in 1976 as part of the amazing Team USA 400-meter free relay that year that beat the doped-up East Germans as well as took their world record. She swam alongside Kim Peyton, Wendy Boglioli and Shirley Babashoff in that event.

Sterkel would go on to become the women’s swimming head coach at Texas spanning 1992-2006 before transitioning into a role in alumni relations at the University.

What’s truly remarkable about her national high school record time of 22.91 from 1979 is that it would still tied for 16th in the nation this year on the NISCA All-American lists. That’s 35 years later for those counting.

1974, 24.50, Leesa Sward, Winter Park
1975, 24.09, Virginia Allen, South Broward
1976, 23.46, Jill Sterkel, Wilson
1977, 22.99, Jill Sterkel, Wilson
1978, 23.60, Jill Sterkel, Wilson
1979, 22.91, Jill Sterkel, Wilson
1980, 23.528, Lisa Zeiser, Maloney
1981, 23.15, Susan Habernigg, Lake Oswego
1982, 23.211, Kathy Smith, Lake Washington
1983, 23.432, Aimee Berzins, Avon Lake
1984, 22.94, Aimee Berzins, Centerville
1985, 22.69, Dara Torres, Westlake School
1986, 23.35, Jeanne Doolan, Duncanville
1987, 23.19, Jeannette Beltz, Fort Collins
1988, 23.36, Joanna Jensen, Woodside
1989, 23.05, Grace Cornelius, Episcopal Academy
1990, 22.99, Nicole Haislett, Lakewood
1991, 23.17, Megan Oesting, Mercer Island
1992, 23.15, Lonna Stacey, Arcadia
1993, 23.16, Lonna Stacey, Arcadia
1994, 23.06, Becky Bicknell, Denver East
1995, 23.29, Jennifer Vanker, Seaholm
1995, 23.29, Erin Maher, LV Berkner
1996, 23.19, Jillian Seifers, Orange
1997, 22.78, Alison Wimer, Palatine
1998, 22.90, Lacey Boutwell, Noblesville
1999, 22.90, Cassidy Maxwell, Satellite
2000, 22.75, Kelly Bennett, Campbell County
2001, 23.04, Sarah Jones, San Clemente
2002, 22.39, Christina Swindle, Gulliver Prep
2003, 22.30, Christina Swindle, Gulliver Prep
2004, 22.75, Courney Cashion, Irvine
2005, 22.52, Stephanie Napier, Baylor
2006, 22.61, Stephanie Napier, Baylor
2007, 22.75, Sarah Bateman, Lake Brantley
2008, 22.39, Liv Jensen, Palo Alto
2009, 22.40, Margo Geer, Fairbanks
2010, 22.24, Maddy Schaefer, Saint Francis
2011, 22.31, Maddy Schaefer, Saint Francis
2012, 22.27, Kristen Vredeveld, Baylor
2013, 21.99, Olivia Smoliga, Glenbrook South
2014, 21.98, Abbey Weitzeil, Saugus

2013-14 NISCA Girls High School All-Americans

2013-14 NISCA Boys High School All-Americans

NOTE: All America times have to be submitted to NISCA by a certain deadline in order to make the 2014 All-American list. Coaches can submit times here: Corrections can also be submitted to NISCA via three emails: Boys Swimming contact:; Girls Swimming contact:; Boys and Girls Diving contact:

This is the fourth day of what will be an 11-day showcase of the NISCA All-American program. Swimming World is proud to partner with NISCA to provided a global spotlight on high school swimming in the U.S., and will be talking to some of the top movers and shakers in high school swimming this week as part of the Morning Swim Show. Additionally, we’ll be taking a look back at some of the best of the best high school swimmers historically.

To access high school All-Americans all the way back through 1974, purchase back issues of Swimming World Magazine!

For more incredible high school content, make sure to subscribe to Swimming World TODAY to make sure you get our High School Swimmers of the Year (August) and High School National Champions of the Year (September) issues.

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Author: Jason Marsteller

Jason Marsteller is the general manager of digital properties at Swimming World. He joined Swimming World in June 2006 as the managing editor after previous stints as a media relations professional at Indiana University, the University of Tennessee, Southern Utah University and the Utah Summer Games.

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