By Katie Wingert, Swimming World College Intern.
Zoe Bartel of Fort Collins Area Swim Team blazed to a new 15-16 200 SCY Breaststroke Record and meet record at the final session of the 2016 Speedo Winter Junior Championships West.
The 16-year-old’s 2:07.72 obliterates the previous record of 2:08.11, set by Caitlin Leverenz nine years ago. Bartel went into the race as the second seed to clear favorite Grace Zhao of Palo Alto Stanford, who was the previous meet record holder with a 2:09.23.
Zhao remained close to Bartel during the first 100 yards, but it was Bartel’s third fifty that really proved to be the deciding factor in separating her from Zhao. Bartel’s fourth touch put her at 32.73, far ahead of Zhao’s 33.33 going into the pullout. Bartel’s final fifty, in a strong 33.10, topped off her punchy swim.
Before this weekend, Bartel’s previous best time in this event was a 2:12.98, achieved at the Speedo Winter Junior Championships West last year. She dropped down to a 2:11.77 in prelims, but remained a dark horse for victory–much less a NAG record–leading up to the historic final. Bartel shocked the field and fans alike with her record-breaking swim.