Luka Mijatovic Crushes 13-14 800 Free NAG Record for First Junior Nationals Win; Relay Records for Carmel, Aquajets


Luka Mijatovic Crushes 13-14 800 Free NAG Record for First Junior Nationals Win; Relay Records for Carmel, Aquajets

A stunning, record-setting summer for Pleasanton Seahawks 14-year-old Luka Mijatovic successfully rolled into Irvine, Calif., as Mijatovic broke the National Age Group record in the 1500 freestyle, the oldest mark standing, before lowering his own NAG marks in the 400 free and 200 free. Mijatovic placed third in the 1500 and 400-meter races, but he saved the best for last in the 800 free.

Over 16 laps, Mijatovic’s result was his fourth record of the week and the first Junior Nationals victory of his career. Mijatovic raced NOVA of Virginia’s Nathan Szobata and King Aquatic Club’s Aiden Hammer but never surrendered the lead. In fact, from the 200-meter mark onward, no one got within one second.

And with a blazing final 50, Mijatovic swam a time of 7:59.64, knocking 2.80 seconds off his previous NAG record from U.S. Nationals and becoming the first-ever swimmer at Junior Nationals to break 8:00. Szobota placed second in 8:01.36, lowering the previous mark of 8:01.63 set by Johannes Calloni in 2017. Hammer grabbed third in 8:03.70.

Later on, the meet finished with with a pair of 15-18 National Age Group records in the 400 medley relay. First up, Carmel took down the mark in the girls’ relay, with the team of Berit BerglundMolly SweeneyAlex Shackell and Lynsey Bowen clocking 4:06.18, six tenths quicker than the previous NAG and meet mark of 4:06.87 set by Elmbrook last year. Crow Canyon placed second in 4:07.21, just off the previous record, led by Bailey Hartman’s 58.72 fly split.

Shackell just returned from the World Championships, but her relay swims over the past few days at Juniors have been special, including a 54.08 100 free leadoff Thursday. She continued that pattern with a 57.51 butterfly split. That was slightly quicker than her flat-start best time of 57.59 set in June at U.S. Nationals, and she was less than a half-second off the 57.06 that Gretchen Walsh split on the U.S. women’s 400 medley relay that won gold at Worlds.

The Aquajets got the job done in the boys’ relay with Luke LogueCharlie EgelandDrew Ploof and Henry Webb combining for a time of 3:42.14, beating the 15-18 NAG record set by TAC Titans earlier this year and the Coronado Swim Association’s meet record of 3:42.85 set last year. The Bolles team finishedin 3:42.90, just off the previous record, as Kayden Lancaster anchored in 49.97.

Pikes Peak’s Caroline Bricker got the win in the girls’ 200 IM despite impressive backstroke and freestyle splits from Mission Viejo’s Teagan O’Dell, the winner of the 100 back Thursday. Bricker went up by more than one second on breaststroke and held strong as O’Dell closed in 30.50. Bricker touched in 2:13.18, with O’Dell getting second in 2:13.90. NOVA of Virginia’s Elle Scott grabbed third in 2:14.72.

Spokane Waves’ Michael Hochwalt raced in a tight battle with Tualatin Hills’ Diego Nosack in the boys’ 200 IM, with Hochwalt touching in 2:01.25 and Nosack coming in four tenths back in 2:01.65. Cooper Lucas, part of two National-Age-Group-record setting swims for Lakeside Aquatic Club, closed well to take third in 2:02.29.

Kayla Han won for the second time this week after previously topping the 400 IM. In the girls’ 1500 free, Han trailed Scarlet’s Kate Hurst for the majority of the race, with Hurt remaining two hundredths ahead at the 1250-meter mark, but the 15-year-old from La Mirada Armada shined on laps 26 through 29 to take over. Han finished in 16:16.94 to cut 10 seconds off her best time, while Hurst also dropped 10 seconds as she finished in 16:18.55. Gold Medal Swim’s Paige Downey finished third in 16:32.05, taking a whopping 18 seconds off her previous best.

An exciting finish in the girls’ 50 free saw the top five finishers touch within a tenth of each other. Lake Country’s Hailey Tierney edged out Foxjets’ Caroline Larsen by three hundredths, 25.35 to 25.38, while Club Wolverine’s Lucy Mehraban and Carmel’s Shackell tied for third in 25.40. Nitro’s Trinity Hong was just behind in 25.44. Shackell, who posted the quickest time of the day with her 25.26 in prelims, was racing in her only individual event of the meet.

The boys’ 50 free was a similar story, with six swimmers touching within 12-hundredths. Rose Bowl’s Jonathan Gim got the win in 22.75, five hundredths clear of Verona Area’s Jack Madoch (22.80). Jersey Wahoos’ Henry McFadden, also just back from the World Championships after handling relay duty in Fukuoka, was third (22.81), just ahead of Bolles’ Andy Kravchenko (22.85), Lakeside’s Maximus Williamson (22.87) and Nation’s Capital’s Josh Howat (22.87).

The Carmel Swim Club finished atop the girls’ and overall team rankings at Juniors while SwimMAC Carolina won the boys’ competition.

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