Andrew Seliskar, Matthew Hirschberger Impress On Final Night Of NCSA Junior Nationals

Andrew Seliskar
Photo Courtesy: Tia Patron/Tennessee Athletics

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ORLANDO – The final night of the NCSA junior nationals was one of the most exciting, with Andrew Seliskar putting on a show in the 200 IM and Matthew Hirschberger putting up a negative-split lifetime best in the 1500 freestyle. The ladies were just as impressive, with Megan Byrnes finally winning in Orlando and two others winning more gold medals.

Seliskar’s lifetime best in the long course 200 IM is 1:59.84 from the 2013 junior world championships, and he chased that time tonight. With splits of 26.32, 30.59 and 34.67 on the first three legs, Seliskar was on pace to crack the 2:00 barrier. He fell a bit short with a 28.73 freestyle leg and a final time of 2:00.31. Seliskar, just 18 years old, fell short of the 2:00.22 he posted in January at the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin that ranks him sixth in the world. He was unchallenged in the race, with Alex Lebed getting second with a 2:03.84 and Brennan Pastorek of Georgia Coastal placing third with a 2:04.22.

Speaking of being unchallenged, Hirschberger was a body length ahead of the field after the first 100 meters of the 1500 free, and held an average of 1:01.8 through most of the race to drop 18 seconds off his lifetime best to 15:19.23. That’s the 12th-fastest time in the world so far this year, and third among Americans. Hirschberger, 16, has a long way to go to reach Bobby Hackett’s national age group record of 15:03.91, but made big strides toward a sub-15 minute swim in his near future. Training with Katie Ledecky will go a long way to making that possible. Colin Murphy of The Woodlands Swim Team also had a big time drop, posting a 15:41.31 to qualify for the Olympic Trials. Blake Maczka of City of Richardson was in second for about half the race but faded to third with a 15:45.90.

Nation’s Capital won all four of the men’s events tonight. John Shebat blasted a 26.07 to win the 50 back over the 26.44 by Dynamo’s Michael Taylor and the 26.57 by Carpet Capital’s Ethan Young. In the 50 free, James Jones posted the sole swim under 22 seconds, winning with a 22.84 to fall a bit short of his lifetime best of 22.81. Justin Ress of Marlins of Raleigh snuck past Seliskar to the wall for second place, 23.09 to 23.15. Ress dropped a full second off his lifetime best for the win to earn qualification to the Olympic Trials.

Katie Drabot of Ozaukee Aquatics pulled away from the field on breaststroke to win the 200 IM with a 2:15.59. Carly Cummings of Condors Swim Club blazed through the freestyle leg to post a lifetime best of 2:16.61 and get a place at the Olympic Trials. She pulled past Cassidy Bayer of Nation’s Capital, who placed third with a 2:16.80.

In an exciting and close final that was not decided immediately due to scoreboard issues, Hannah Whiteley of Mason Manta Rays won the 50 backstroke with a 29.26. Lucie Nordmann of The Woodlands Swim Team was going for a backstroke sweep but settled for second with a 29.31, while Zoe Avestruz of Aquajets was third with a 29.39.

Megan Byrnes of Nation’s Capital overcame illness to win the 800 freestyle with an 8:41.45. That marked a lifetime best by seven seconds, and moved her further up the list of current American swimmers. Byrnes was never pushed by the field, where Kendall Brent of Swim Florida passed Isabella Rongione of Nation’s Capital at the 600-meter mark and finished with an 8:44.94 to Rongione’s 8:46.40.

Stanzi Moseley won both sprint freestyles at the meet, posting a 25.39 in the 50 free for a lifetime best. Ashley Volpenhein of Mason Manta Rays got second with a 26.65 and Morgan Hill of Machine Aquatics took third with a 25.75.

Nation’s Capital took the combined team title with 2,467 points, also winning the men’s and women’s team titles. Katie Drabot and Andrew Seliskar won the high point awards. Moseley’s 55.19 in the 100 free and Seliskar’s 1:56.24 in the 200 fly, both done on Wednesday, were voted the top performances of the meet.

2015 NCSA Junior Nationals, Day 5 Finals – Results