Bella Sims Climbs Into Top-10 All-Time in 200 Back and 200 Fly to Conclude Junior Nationals West

Bella Sims -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bella Sims Climbs Into Top-10 All-Time in 200 Back and 200 Fly to Conclude Junior Nationals West

A masterful performance at Winter Junior Nationals West concluded Saturday evening as Bella Sims captured her fifth and sixth individual wins of the meet. The meet began Wednesday evening with Sims going under 1:41 in the 200 freestyle while leading the Sandpipers to the fastest-ever 800 free relay team consisting of high school swimmers, and then she broke 4:30 for the first time in the 500 free Thursday before also capturing the 200 IM. Friday brought wins in the 200 free and 100 back, and finally, Sims broke into the top-10 all-time in both the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly.

In the 200 back, Sims pulled away from the field to win by almost three seconds. Representing the Sandpipers of Nevada, Sims swam a time of 1:48.32 to move into a tie for eighth all-time in the event. Regan Smith was the only swimmer to beat that time at last year’s NCAA Championships, and Sims is now tied with 200-meter back World Championships silver medalist Phoebe Bacon on the all-time list and for second all-time in the 17-18 age group. Sims’ backstroke has been a revelation this fall after she initially emerged on the national and international scene as a freestyle specialist.

Mission Viejo’s Teagan O’Dell placed second in 1:51.00 while Sims’ Sandpipers teammate Katie Grimes returned to the pool after her win in the 1650 free to take third in 1:52.04.

Later in the evening, Sims was again utterly dominant in the 200 fly. She split 52.36 at the halfway point, which put her almost a second ahead of Ella Eastin’s American-record pace, and while she fell off that insane pace over the final 100 yards, she still had enough to finish in 1:51.06, which moved her into the top-10 all-time in the event. Like in the 200 back, this time would have placed Sims second at the NCAA Championships last year, this time behind Virginia’s Alex Walsh, and she finished a mere two hundredths shy of Eastin’s 17-18 NAG record of 1:51.04.

Grimes finished second in 1:54.92 for her third individual top-three placement of the night, and Crow Canyon’s Bailey Hartman finished just behind at 1:55.06.

In the girls’ 200 breaststroke, U.S. Olympian Lydia Jacoby got the win in 2:06.81. The Texas freshman is racing at Junior Nationals in her home pool this week, and she surpassed her season-best mark of 2:07.14 from last week’s Minnesota Invitational that ranks 10th in the country. This mark, if it counted in the college rankings, would leave Jacoby eighth in the country. Beach Cities’ Bella Brito (2:10.15) and Bellevue’s Piper Enge (2:10.31) finished second and third, respectively.

O’Dell captured an individual win Saturday evening as she got to the wall first in the 100 free in 48.47, with Team Rebel’s Rebecca Diaconescu (48.68) and Sandpipers’ Claire Weinstein (48.76) finishing just behind her.

On the boys’ side, Maximus Williamson posted two more individual victories in the 200 back (setting a NAG record) and 100 free, while Loveland’s Jack Eccleston took the 200 breast in 1:54.50 ahead of First Colony’s Logan Brown (1:55.49) and Foothills’ Joshua Corn (1:55.71). The 200 fly went to Evolution’s David Schmitt in 1:43.39 as he edged out Lakeside’s Cooper Lucas. Tualatin Hills’ Diego Nosak took third (1:44.61).


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