ORLANDO, Florida, March 16. THE final night of the National Club Swimming Association (NCSA) Junior National Championships ended with a bang as several more U.S. National Age Group Records took a fall this evening. The meet took place LIVE on SwimmingWorld.TV in a stream sponsored by SpeedoUSA.
It has been Olympian Rachel Bootsma dominating the backstroke events the past few years for the Aquajets. This year, however, Zoe Avestruz, 15, took over from the California Golden Bear Bootsma with a backstroke sweep. First, she topped the 100 last night before taking down the sprint 50-yard event tonight in 24.44. Today is the first time she's been under 25 seconds, coming into the meet with a 25.29 lifetime best from last week at the Minnesota senior state meet. St. Croix's Mickayla Hinkle and NCAP's Janet Hu put up matching 24.76s to tie for second as the only other sub-25s of the night.
NASA Wildcat's Andrew Jovanovic ripped through the men's 50-yard back with a time of 22.07, while NCAP's Philip Hu finished second in 22.31 after posting a 22.21 in prelims. First Colony's Brett Pinfold earned third in 22.54. Jovanovic had never been under 23 seconds until today, coming into the meet with a 23.08 lifetime best. After clocking a 22.32 this morning, Jovanovic nearly cleared 22 seconds tonight.
Distance queen Becca Mann of Clearwater completed a distance-event sweep with a smoking-fast time of 15:45.33 to cut nearly 10 seconds off her 1650-yard free lifetime best. Her previous best of 15:54.46 occurred at the Arena Grand Prix stop in Minneapolis. The 15-year-old's swim tonight shot her to 13th all time in the event's history. She's still got plenty of time to make up if she's looking for the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record. Olympic gold medalist Katie Ledecky owns that as the second-fastest swimmer in the event's history with a 15:28.36. Only Katie Hoff has been faster with a 15:24.35 as an 18-year-old. Lakeside's Leah Stevens won the battle for second place with a 16:24.05, while Saint Petersburg's Ariel Finke clipped NCAP's Megan Byrnes for third, 16:27.66 to 16:27.72.
Delaware's Kaitlyn Jones turned in her second-fastest women's 200-yard IM ever with a winning effort of 1:57.13. She's only been faster one other time with a 1:56.31 at her high school meet last month, which lowered the national independent school record in the event. Dynamo's Kylie Stewart touched second in 1:58.04, while Clearwater's Sydney Pickrem earned third in 1:58.15. Becca Mann, after her sterling time in the 1650 free, took sixth with a 2:00.60 with less than 15 minutes of rest since her mile.
A day after crushing the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record in the men's 200-yard breast with a 1:54.87, Seliskar did it again in the men's 200-yard IM with a scintillating time of 1:44.03. That swim cut a second off Gunnar Bentz's 2012 record of 1:45.17 and nearly pushed the record into the 1:43s. Seliskar's previous best had been a 1:45.21 from Winter Nationals last November. Nitro's William Licon finished a distant second in 1:46.24, while defending champion Max Williamson of the Northern Kentucky Clippers touched third in 1:46.62. Bentz touched fourth in 1:47.88 as Seliskar blasted his record.
Earlier in the week, First Colony's Simone Manuel claimed the 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record in the women's 100-yard free. Tonight, she made it a clean sprint free sweep with an unbelievable 22.04 in the women's 50-yard free. Her performance cleared the previous mark of 22.13 set by NCAP's Janet Hu last year. Manuel nearly took down the mark this morning with a swift 22.18 in prelims. Hu, meanwhile, placed second in the finale with a 22.34, while All Star's Caroline McTaggart touched third in 22.73.
Rockville-Montgomery's Jack Conger finished his meet undefeated as he raced to a 19.85 in the men's 50-yard free. That matched his lifetime best set at the DC Metro championships in February 2012. Bolles' Caeleb Dressel gave his 15-16 U.S. National Age Group record a run with a second-place time of 19.90. Dressel's NAG stands at 19.82 from last year. Jovanovic clinched third-place honors with a time of 20.27.
Tsunami's Tyler Fowler used a back-half strategy to race to victory in the men's 1650-yard free. He clocked a time of 15:12.54, cutting 10 seconds off his previous best of 15:22.73 from just a month ago. Clearwater's Matthew Hirschberger, who at 14 took down the 13-14 U.S. National Age Group record earlier in the meet in the 1000-yard free, just missed the 1650 record held by Florida's Arthur Frayler. Frayler set the record with a sterling 15:14.17 in 2008, and Hirschberger just missed it with a second-place time of 15:14.42. His previous best time had been a 15:27.53 from a Christmas-themed meet last December. NOVA's Francis Haas clinched third in 15:16.67, while early rabbit Justin Buck of Clearwater faded to fourth in 15:17.09.
Dynamo's Kylie Stewart (53.01), Jamie Christy (1:02.68), Nicole Stafford (52.98) and Caitlin Cooper (49.99) won an exciting battle for the women's 400-yard medley relay with a winning 3:38.66. NCAP's Kristina Li (54.01), Audrey Gould (1:02.64), Janet Hu (51.96) and Hannah Baker (50.08) finished just behind with a second-place 3:38.69. Aquajets' Zoe Avestruz (53.25), Olivia Anderson (1:01.14), Breinne Thorne (54.60) and Kaia Grobe (50.10) picked up third-place honors in 3:39.09.
NCAP's Philip Hu (49.19), Carsten Vissering (53.66), Andrew Seliskar (47.56) and Paul O'Hara (44.62) dominated the men's 400-yard medley relay with a winning time of 3:15.03. Rockville-Montgomery's Jack Conger (47.06), Austin Dicker (55.77), Michael Thomas (50.30) and Barrett Mangold (45.16) took second in 3:18.29. Dayton Raiders' Henrik Pohlmann (49.84), Patrick Mulcare (56.22), Joshua Quallen (47.05) and Brock Turner (46.07) finished third in 3:19.18.