Great Day To Be Named Courtney: Weaver and Harnish Win on Night One of YMCA Nationals

GREENSBORO, North Carolina, April 1. FOUR YMCA national records took a tumble to open the YMCA short course swimming championships, where Sarasota is looking to repeat as team champion and continue their dominance at the meet.

Women 100 butterfly
Courtney Weaver of Greater Flint YMCA was likely fired up by the team championship by the University of Georgia two weeks ago and will be looking to impress her future Bulldog teammates at this meet. She started her campaign with a meet record 52.87 to win the 100 fly, set a new personal best and lower her own mark of 53.22 from last year. Jessie Snover, just 15 years old from Middle Tyger, was the only other swimmer under 54 seconds in the final, placing second with a 53.63 to lower her personal best by five tenths of a second. Snover’s teammate Katrina Konopka took third with a 54.02.

Men 100 butterfly
Schroeder YMCA’s Nick Petersen posted a lifetime best 48.12 to win the 100 fly. It wasn’t good enough to beat Tim Phillips’ meet record of 46.96 from 2009, but it was enough to beat Corry’s Brent Benedict, who was second with a 48.25. Bryce Keblish of Westport was first at the 50-yard mark with a 22.53, but faded to third with a 48.70.

Joseph Shepley of Cheshire won the B final with a 48.62, a time that would have placed third in the A final if he had swum in that heat. Shepley posted a 49.31 in prelims, just .02 away from earning a spot in the championship final.

Women 200 breast
Sarasota’s Bethany Leap had a challenge in her quest to repeat as 200 breast champion, holding off Middle Tyger’s Savanna Faulcon to win with a meet record 2:11.35, erasing her mark of 2:11.85 from last year. Faulcon outsplit Leap on the third 50, but couldn’t nab the win with her time of 2:11.90. Olivia Ontjes of Triangle Area placed third with a 2:13.66.

Men 200 breast
Zach Warner of Somerset Valley made a huge drop in his lifetime best to win the 200 breast, taking the title with a 1:56.61. Before the meet, Warner’s best was a 2:00.10 from last year’s Y nationals, which he beat in prelims with a 1:59.28.

Conner McHugh of Door County led the race for 100 yards but couldn’t match Warner’s sub-30 second third 50. McHugh’s time of 1:56.89 was also a personal best, beating his 1:59.00 from last year. Jonathan Rutter of Powel Crosley was charging in the final 50 yards but settled for third by a slim margin with a 1:56.90.

Women 50 free
Another defending champion, another record broken. Konopka avenged her third place in the 100 fly earlier in the session with a meet record 22.46 in the sprint freestye, breaking her mark of 22.55 from last year. Westfield’s Caroline Baldwin took second with a 22.88 while Holly Christens of Somerset Valley took third with a 22.99 to round out the sub-23 second swims of the day.

Men 50 free
Springfield’s Ryan Held was on fire today in the 50 free, resetting his national record with a 19.58 in the individual event to beat out the 19.92 he posted last year. The future NC State sprinter returned in the 200 free relay about 30 minutes later to lower that mark with a 19.52.

Held was the only swimmer under 20 seconds in the meet. Colin Ellington of Triangle Area posted a 20.30 for second, while Brad Zdroik of Somerset Valley got third with a 20.32.

Women 1000 free
Building a five-second lead at 200 yards, Courtney Harnish of York never looked back on her way to winning the 1000 free after taking third last year. Just 14 years old, Harnish posted a lifetime best 9:35.39. Notably, she’s just six seconds off Katie Ledecky’s national age group record of 9:29.81. Placing second tonight was another 14-year-old, Abbey Irwin of Downtown Boise, whose 9:45.06 gives light to the next generation of distance swimming. Erin Voss, 15 years old representing Greater Holyoke, took third with a 9:47.55.

Men 1000 free
Nick Caldwell’s astonishing meet record of 8:55.55 was never in jeopardy, and neither was Ian Rainey’s chances of winning tonight’s distance event. Leading by four seconds after 500 yards, Rainey won with a 9:05.31 to beat his lifetime best by 15 seconds. That distance talent will likely come to good use next year when he arrives on campus at the University of Michigan. Jonathan Blansford of Westport took second with a 9:09.64 while Drew Clark of Sarasota placed third with a 9:12.92.

Women 200 free relay
York couldn’t match the speed of Middle Tyger tonight in the sprint relay, relinquishing their record of 1:32.05 to Middle Tyger, who posted a 1:31.98 to win. York nearly eclipsed the old record with a 1:32.17 for second, while Somerset Valley was also in the hunt, placing third with a 1:32.59.

Men 200 free relay
Buoyed by Held’s record-setting leadoff, Springfield managed to hold off a fast-charging Triangle Area team to win the final event of the night with a meet record 1:21.71 to demolish the former record of 1:22.58. Triangle Area also dipped under the old record with a runner-up time of 1:22.05, while Middle Tyger nearly got under as well with a 1:22.62 for third place.

Wilton leads the men’s race with 75 points after the first day, with Sarasota (44) and Wesport (38) running second and third. Middle Tyger has a big lead in the women’s division, amassing 111 points to Sarasota’s 68 and the 42 points earned by Triangle Area and York.

Results For: YMCA short course nationals, day 1