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Age only a number for Ledecky and Conger

By Jorge Castillo
Jack Conger finished ninth in the 100 backstroke despite having the fastest time in the finals due to his preliminary time. (Courtesy of Bridget Conger)

Jack Conger had the fastest time of the day in the 100 backstroke but because of his preliminary time, he finished ninth overall. (Courtesy of Bridget Conger)

At the Potomac Valley Senior Short Course Senior Championships in March, Curl-Burke’s Katie Ledecky, then-12-years-old, opened some eyes in her first races against older competition. She broke PVS records in the 11-12 age group in the 200 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 500 freestyle, 1650 freestyle and 400 individual medley.

This past weekend, the now-13-year-old did more of the same at the PVS Long Course Senior Championships held at the University of Maryland – this time with some expectations.

On Saturday Ledecky, who will start eighth grade in the fall, won the women’s 400-meter freestyle in 4:25.35 in an event that featured no other girl under the age of 15 in the top 14. The PVS LC Senior Championships is an open meet, with no age restriction.

Friday she took second in the 1500 freestyle (17:05.36), fifth in the 400 individual medley (5:13.07), and 12th in the 200 freestyle (2:09.92). On Sunday she finished third in the 800 freestyle (9:15.89).

In those five events, no other 13-year-old finished as high.

“They’re really great swimmers and it’s fun racing the older kids,” said Ledecky. “But at the end of the day I only have control over one person – myself.

She was also on three top-two relay teams. On Friday she was the anchor on the 800 freestyle relay team that finished second (8:41.03) along with fellow 13-year-old Brittany Creasy and 14-year-olds Taylor Vincent and Janet Hu. Saturday, she was the third leg on the second-fastest 400 medley relay team (4:30.99) with Hu, Vincent and 13-year-old Brooke Malone. She was also the anchor on the victorious women’s 400 freestyle relay on Sunday along with fellow 13-year-old Sofia Revilak, and Hu and Vincent.

Ledecky, who began swimming at Curl-Burke in a summer league with her older brother when she was six, holds the third fastest U.S. time in the 400-meter freestyle this year (4:24.60) for 14-and-under swimmers. She set the mark at the Potomac Valley Maryland State Long Course Championships in June and her coach at Curl-Burke, Yuri Suguiyama, said she is ranked in the top three in two other events this summer as well.

“It’s kind of hard to predict right now,” said Suguiyama when asked what Ledecky would specialize in down the road. “As a 14-and-under swimmer it’s kind of my job to make sure that I keep a lot of doors open for her as she moves forward. But if I were to guess, I think Katie’s going to be a really successful middle-distance and distance freestyler and IMer.”

Ledecky set two Potomac Valley Swimming records when she was 10 and since then as taken on a full practice schedule that has helped produce her recent success against older competition.

“What separates Katie from her peers is her great work ethic, her focus and her ability to race with a fury,” Suguiyama said. “She’s a really talented racer and she’s someone I think can really go far in this sport.”

Conger continues to impress

RMSC’s Jack Conger has been making a name for himself for the last couple years and the 15-year-old continued to impress over the weekend. The 6-foot-5 Conger finished second in the 200 butterfly (2:09.39) and had the fastest time (58.03) of the day in the 100 backstroke but because of his preliminary time, which qualified him for the B final, he couldn’t finish higher than ninth. Conger said he slipped off the block at the start of his preliminary heat, which slowed him down. He was the youngest swimmer in the top 15 in each event.

Conger also finished sixth in the 50 freestyle (24.47) and 11th in the 200 freestyle (1:58.59).

For complete meet results, click here.

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16 Responses to “Age only a number for Ledecky and Conger”

  1. swinfan says:

    Awesome swims by PVS up and comers. Conger like Hu (who BTW won the 200 fly and is ranked #2 in the country in both 100 and 200 fly) has his name out there as one of the kids to watch in PVS but Ledecky is a new name and getting a senior national cut at 13 is a tremendous accomplishment.
    its fun to see these young swimmers challenge more experienced athletes and really make a race exciting.

  2. Hubert the Infant says:

    What is with reachforthewall.com and Jack Conger? I agree that he is remarkably fast, and if you want to call him great, that is fine with me, too. But having to read about him virtually every week in reachforthewall.com is a bit much. He is obviously extremely gifted physically: being 6′-5′ at his age kind of helps in swimming. On the other hand, there are thousands of other young swimmers in the Washington area who work their hearts out and most likely would really appreciate a single mention in the Washington Post’s local swimming Website. Unlike them, young Mr. Conger is not swimming in obscurity.

    Unfortunately, lately reachforthewall.com has been manifesting the same repetitive fascination over Katie Ledecky’s feats. She is extremely good, too, but I really do not need to read about her constantly.

    Please stop!

  3. Mitch Rubin says:

    Please tell us some swimmers we should be focusing on. The area’s a big place and we have a very small staff so there’s no doubt that we’ve missed many talented swimmers out there. Let us know who they are and what teams they swim for.

  4. swim parent says:

    Since when does the public tell the media how and where to find their stories? You guys publish the top times, you can see which divisions have a “Big” meet, why is it up to us to tell you what to report on? You don’t know how to look at the results of Senior Champs and pick out an outstanding swim or swimmers? What about the returning All Mets back home for the summer (Amanda Kendall, Sean Fletcher, Rachael Burnett in Virginia). What was their first year of college like? Are they swimming summer league still? How about a comparison between club, high school and summer league? Burnett made NCAA’s as a freshmen, is that not interesting? If they don’t wear CUBU or RMSC it seems like you guys can’t find them on the pool deck.

  5. swim parent says:

    While I’m commenting… how about a story on MACHINE AQUATICS and their phenomenal rise in PVS and US swimming?

  6. Old Timer says:

    I have a good story Mitch – what about all these phenoms who are really good swimmers at 13-17 and are average at best in college? Seems there is all this hype every year of the DC swimmers (some are All-Met) and don’t amount to much after high school. Compare that to the ones who are under the radar and do wonders in college. Just a thought?

  7. Mitch Rubin says:

    It’s an interesting idea. I’ll talk to our reporters about it and see if we can follow up with something. Thanks.

  8. swim parent says:

    Or the phenoms at 10-13 that never make it to college swimming??

  9. Jim G. says:

    Mitch, I appreciate that you read these comments and respond. Some good feedback, but I wanted to tell you that I ‘feel your pain’ as many of us (including me) want comprehensive coverage but don’t support the paper by paying to subscribe and/or patronizing your advertisers. It’s a shame how much newspapers are struggling when your role in society (far beyond swim meets) is so critical.

  10. Mitch Rubin says:

    Thanks Jim. We’d love to cover everything as fully as possible. In this case, not sending Alan to the meet hurt us and for that I apologize.

  11. Devvon says:

    While there still could be some diversity with the stories, I think you guys are doing a fantastic job. Two years ago, there would have been nothing at all.

  12. Lilly says:

    I agreed that Ledecky and Conger are wonderful swimmers, we know that, everybody knows that.

    I was hoping that Reach for the Wall had a good and extensive cover for the Long Course Invitational Meet, remarking the progress from many other swimmers that are working hard everyday to keep up with the great competition on the area, but, it seems that just Cubu and RMSC are their favorite teams…

    Please look around and you can find more names to mention….

  13. swinfan says:

    SWIM PARENT..RTW did a good job of recognizing the ALL MET swimmers during their college conference time and NCAA’s and mentioned Rachel Burnett as I recall. This PVS meet (I would bet0 is just a tune up before before Nationals in two weeks. The swimmers you mentioned did not come with their A game as you can see by their times..This was not a big meet for them..

    And I too would love to see a story about MACHINE and their rise..They seem to be doing a lot of things right.

    And yea, their are a lot of young wunderkinds that seem to peak in their teens and then struggle or flatline.. its a tough route to be faster at 16 then you are in college . Thats why parents need to watch all the hype about young swimmers..Its a hell of a fall from grace when you dont live up to parents/coaches expectations and you have other parents(e.g. lots on this board to choose from) that are ready to pick your bones and smile smugly about your slower times..

  14. Mitch Rubin says:

    Thanks for your ideas. Please understand that our staff is extremely limited so we need to rely somewhat on ideas that come from the community.

  15. swimmer says:

    wow those are some FAST relays!

  16. Breaststroker says:

    RFTW uses current swimmers to report some of their stories, (Including Ledecky’s brother, who has done a great job of avoiding over-covering his sister), swim parents why cant you cut them a break about their reporting? I can’t imagine the website brings in too much money, they’re stretched thin according to their editor; and how much better is this website than anything we had before it? Think about that.

    Also, Machine has done little in the National picture compared to RMSC and Curl. That being said it would be nice to see a little more coverage of the good but not great swimmers, interviewing the more regular swimmers at MCSL Long Course, maybe not just the usual winners.

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