Bella Sims Jumps Grimes to Move to Fourth All-Time in 400-Yard IM, Breaks 17-18 NAG Record

Bella Sims -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bella Sims Jumps Grimes to Move to Fourth All-Time in 400-Yard IM, Breaks 17-18 NAG Record

In four days at U.S. Winter Junior Nationals West, Bella Sims earned six individual titles, four relay wins and spots among the top-10 swimmers in history in four short course yards events to substantially boost her profile among the country’s top swimmers. After that meet, Sims did not wait long before jumping back into competition. The Sandpipers of Nevada team is racing this weekend at a Sectionals meet in La Mirada, Calif., and Sims has already added another world-class performance.

In the 400 IM, an event that Sims skipped at Junior Nationals, she showed off her ever-increasing versatility as she swam a mark of 3:56.59. Sims entered with a lifetime best of 4:03.67 before going slightly faster in prelims (4:03.60) and then knocking off seven seconds in the final. Sims knocked almost two seconds off Ella Eastin’s 17-18 National Age Group record of 3:58.40, and in the process, she became the fourth-fastest swimmer ever in the event behind Eastin, Katie Ledecky and Katinka Hosszu. She bumped Sandpipers teammate Katie Grimes down by a spot after Grimes went 3:57.02 at Juniors last week to set a 15-16 NAG record.

While Grimes was the World Championships silver medalist in the 400-meter IM this year, Sims has never contested the event at a national-level competition. A comparison between the splits of Sims and Grimes in their respective record-setting performances shows that the teammates split the races in remarkably similar fashion. Sims was slightly faster on the butterfly and breaststroke legs while Grimes went a bit quicker on backstroke and freestyle.

Sims: 24.89, 53.03 (28.14), 1:22.95 (29.92), 1:52.36 (29.41), 2:27.44 (35.08), 3:02.67 (35.23), 3:30.06 (27.39), 3:56.59 (26.53)
Grimes: 25.10, 53.59 (28.49), 1:23.17 (29.58), 1:52.21 (29.04), 2:27.75 (35.54), 3:03.35 (35.60), 3:30.71 (27.36), 3:57.02 (26.31)

In addition to her 400 IM success, Sims also entered the all-time top-10 in another event. She swam a mark of 9:22.30 to win the 1000 free, moving her to seventh all-time. Sandpipers teammate Claire Weinstein finished second in the race in 9:25.06 while Grimes was third in 9:26.10. Those two swimmers now rank 11th and 14th all-time in the event, respectively.

Sims, who has also won the 100 fly at the Sectionals meet in 51.52, now ranks in the top-10 all-time in a whopping six different short course yards events. After racing at the 2021 Olympics and 2022 World Championships as a member of the U.S. women’s 800 free relay, the 17-year-old future University of Florida Gator will have plenty of options for her lineup at the 2023 U.S. Nationals, where the World Championships team will be selected. The 200 and 400 free are locks for her program while the 800 free, 100 and 200 back, 200 fly and now the 400 IM are all possibilities.