Katie Grimes Swims 15:26.17 to Become Fifth-Fastest Swimmer Ever in 1650 Free at Juniors West

Katie Grimes -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Katie Grimes Swims 15:26.17 to Become Fifth-Fastest Swimmer Ever in 1650 Free at Juniors West

After becoming the fifth woman in history to break 4:30 in the 500 freestyle and then moving to fourth all-time in the 400 IM, 16-year-old Katie Grimes dominated the 1650 free at Junior Nationals West while moving up to fifth in history in the event. Grimes, representing the Sandpipers of Nevada, opened up a lead right away over teammate Claire Weinstein, and she settled into a rhythm of mostly 28-low splits each 50 over the course of the race. Grimes pulled away and lapped all swimmers in the heat except Weinstein.

Grimes finished in 15:26.17 to knock 8.5 seconds off the Juniors meet record of 15:34.72 she set last year. The effort moved Grimes to fifth all-time in the event behind Katie LedeckyErica SullivanKatie Hoff and Leah Smith. The high school junior swam almost 15 seconds faster than Wisconsin’s Paige McKenna did in winning the NCAA title last year, but the mark was not a National Age Group record as Ledecky went 15:15.17 in 2013. However, Grimes did erase Ledecky’s Texas pool record of 15:28.36.

Since earning a surprise berth on the 2021 U.S. Olympic team and placing fourth in Tokyo in the 800-meter free final, Grimes has quickly ascended to elite status in the distance freestyle races as well as the 400 IM. After earning a pair of silver medals at the World Championships in the 1500-meter free (behind Ledecky) and 400-meter IM (behind Summer McIntosh), Grimes has turned the success into a resounding short course performance to finish off 2022.

Weinstein ended up finishing second in the race in 15:53.83, about a second off her lifetime best, while La Mirada Armada’s Kayla Han placed third in 16:05.75.

The Sandpipers then won the next two events on the program. In the boys’ 1650 free, Luke Ellis took over the lead from Rose Bowl’s Rex Maurer shortly after the 1100-yard mark, and he pulled away to win by five seconds. Ellis touched in 14:49.79, while Maurer took second in 14:54.71. Lakeside’s Max Hatcher took third in 15:04.80.

Finally, Bella Sims dominated the girls’ 200 backstroke for her fifth individual win of the meet, and she later captured the win in the 200 butterfly as well. Grimes, meanwhile, was nowhere near done with her racing for the evening as she went on to finish third in the 200 back and second in the 200 fly, and she helped the Sandpipers set a National Age Group record in the 400 free relay.


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