Five Races to Watch at Speedo Junior Nationals

Editorial coverage for U.S. Junior Nationals proudly sponsored by Q Swimwear!

By Emily Sampl

BOULDER, Colorado, July 28. THE 2014 Speedo Junior National Championships begin Wednesday, with the nation’s top 18-and-under swimmers gathering at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatic Center in Irvine, Calif. There are a lot of great races shaping up at the meet; here are the top five to watch.

1. Men’s 100 Breast

Jacob Molacek, Nick Silverthorn, Reece Whitley and Michael Andrew headline the list of competitors in the men’s 100 breast, which is shaping up to be a great battle. Molacek enters the meet with the top seed time of 1:02.92, while Silverthorn is second at 1:02.95. They’ll be chasing Carsten Vissering’s 2013 meet record of 1:01.94, while Whitley and Andrew will likely be chasing the 13-14 and 15-16 national age group records in the event. Vissering’s meet record from last year is the national age group record for 15-16 boys, so Andrew will at minimum need a meet record to grab the NAG record this week.

2. Women’s 100 Fly

Tualatin Hills’ Michelle Cefal is the top seed in the women’s 100 fly at 59.13, but after her the event is wide open, with at least a dozen swimmers close to breaking the minute barrier. Sonia Wang of Redlands Swim Team (1:00.34) and Lauren Case of Chattahoochee (1:00.37) are seeded second and third, with 13 swimmers seeded under 1:01 in the event. Cefal might be the only swimmer in the field to have broken 1:00, but it would be a surprise if she is the only one under a minute in the final.

3. Women’s 100 Free

The women’s 100 free may be one of the most tightly bunched races of the entire meet, as the second- through 18th-seeded swimmers are separated by only .74. Outside of top seed Amy Bilquist of Carmel Swim Club, who enters with a 55.59, the event is wide open, with at least 17 swimmers who could place in the top heat, or even the top three. Heading into the meet, Lindsey Engel of the JCC Waves sits second at 56.20, followed by Heidi Miller of North Baltimore in 56.23, Stanzi Moseley of Roadrunner Aquatics at 56.27 and Victoria Toris of Scottsdale Aquatic Club at 56.30.

4. Men’s 50 Free

Caeleb Dressel of the Bolles School Sharks headlines a fast field in the men’s 50 free. Dressel is within striking distance of Vlad Morozov’s 2010 meet record of 22.13 with a 22.22, and definitely has the potential to dip under 22 with a best time of 18.94 in yards. He’ll be fresh, as this is his only individual event of the whole meet. Auburn’s Cam Jones is seeded second in 22.80, and a whole bunch of swimmers follow him in the low to mid 23s, including Michael Andrew, Justin Lynch and Jacob Molacek. Eighth seed Christian Feiler of Flatiron Athletic Club has dropped almost a second this summer and could factor into the top five as well.

5. Men’s 200 IM

The last day of the meet should feature a great battle between a few very talented swimmers, with Curtis Ogren, Corey Okubo, Patrick Mulcare, Ryan Harty and Michael Andrew entering the meet as the top five seeded swimmers in the men’s 200 IM. Less than seven-tenths separate first from fifth, with Ogren seeded at 2:03.45 and Andrew entered at 2:04.13. Ogren and Okubo are the second- and third-ranked recruits in the country for the class of 2014, and will surely have more great battles as they head off to Stanford (Ogren) and Princeton (Okubo).