It has become habit for the reigning All-Met Swimmer of the Year, Janet Hu, and resident Olympian, Katie Ledecky, to make the incredible seem commonplace when they hop in the pool. A week after setting four 15-16 national age group records between them, the two Nation’s Capital Swim Club swimmers paired up at the 10th annual Tom Dolan Invitational to take down the girls’ 15-16 800-yard freestyle relay national age group record for a new time of 7 minutes, 16.04 seconds. They were joined by Kristina Li and Robyn Dryer to break the previous record, set by North Baltimore Aquatic Club, by more than two seconds.
Hu led off the record setting relay, followed by Li and Dryer. By the time Ledecky — who blasted a 1:44.56 last week at Winter Nationals — hit the water, the record was all but gone. The 15-year-old Olympic gold medalist cruised into the final wall, eliciting cheers from her teammates and the NCAP coaching staff at the side of the pool. Afterwards, the girls posed for pictures before hopping in the warm down pool.
“It was really exciting to get [the record],” said Janet Hu, who celebrates her 17th birthday this weekend. “It’s different than individual records — as a team we’re together and we’ve worked together to get it.”
It was the first relay record for Ledecky and Hu, whose names appear four times each in USA Swimming’s national age group short-course yards record books.
Hu also won the girls’ open 100 butterfly. Her time of 52.60 was two-tenths slower than her national age group record from last week at Winter Nationals, however, the performance shows a level of consistency in the high school junior’s swimming that is characteristic of elite swimmers.
“We’ve been focusing a lot on my under waters this season, which has allowed me to drop more time,” said Hu in regards to her recent successes. “I want to kick out to half way off of every wall in my events. I was able to do that last week and again this weekend.”
After a breakout meet against national level competition many might find it difficult to amp themselves back up to swim against slower competition in a smaller venue, but Hu — like Ledecky — never seems to flag, remaining focused on swimming her race as close to perfection as possible.
Also setting records was Penn Charter Aquatic Club’s (PCAC) Reese Whitley, who broke his own NAG record in the 11-12 boys’ 200 breaststroke in a staggeringly fast 2:09.40. That’s a full second faster than his previous record of 2:10.47 and four seconds faster than the previous record holder, Michael Andrews, at 2:13.33.
Despite the two NAG records set, two of the most impressive swims of the night came from Rockville-Montgomery Swim Club’s Jack Conger. The University of Texas signee blew away the competition in the boys’ open 100 butterfly, posting a time of 46.15. The time — had it been swum in a high school meet — would have broken the national high school record of 46.50 set earlier this year by The Bolles School’s Joseph Schooling. It just over a second off the 17-18 NAG record of 44.90, set by Tom Shields while a freshman at California. Conger’s time is the fastest ever swam by a high schooler and is the third fastest time ever by an 18 & under.
If that wasn’t enough to turn heads, Conger,17, also led off RMSC’s 800 freestyle relay in 1:34.15. That time — which will count as official since it was done in a lead off leg — would have also broken the national high school independent record and was half a second behind the public school record, held by Tom Shields. It is also less than a second behind the 17-18 year-old NAG record of 1:33.28. Conger was joined by Barry Mangold, and brothers Matt and Thomas Colket for a winning time of 6:37.56.
Performances like these from the Good Counsel senior make it hard to guess what he will swim during the high school championship season. He has realistic chances as the national high school records in the 50 freestyle, 100 backstroke, 100 butterfly, 200 IM and 500 freestyle, which he missed by 1.12 seconds last year at Metros.
13-14 100 breaststroke:
Allie Szekely of the Central Bucks Swim Team (CBST) cruised to a win in 1:02.25. She was followed by the pair of NCAP swimmers, Reni Moshos and Hannah Baker, in 1:04.74 and 1:04.84, respectively.
South Eastern Virginia Aquatics’ (SEVA) Jonathan Spires, 14, posted a blistering 57.82 to win the boys’ event. He was almost a full 3.5 seconds faster than the top local, 13-year-old Timothy Wu of NCAP, who finished in 1:01.23.
Open 100 breaststroke:
NCAP’s Brooke Malone, 16, won the girls’ event in 1:02.45. Malone’s previous best was a 1:03.62 achieved at the AAA Virginia State Championship last high school season.
Zach Hayden, 25, won for the boys’ in 55.27 swimming for NCAP. His teammate Reid Penzler, 16, was second in 56.17, followed by Machine’s Brandon Fiala, 17, in 56.37. Fiala recently signed his letter of intent to swim for Virginia Tech.
11-12 50 breaststroke:
NCAP’s Rachel Danegger, 12, won the timed final in 32.09.
In the boys’ event, PCAC’s Whitley challenged for the NAG record, but fell short, finishing in 28.08.
13-14 200 freestyle:
Lea Gwennap, 13, won the girls’ event in an incredible 1:50.95. She is just one great swimmer in an incredible group of 13-14 year-old girls training with NCAP right now, including Emily Meilus who finished second in 1:52.47 and Hannah Baker who finished third in 1:53.57.
On the boys’ side, if you weren’t looking at your program, you might have thought event 18 was the boys’ open 200 freestyle based on the times. Michael Jensen from Upper Dublin Aquatic Club (UDAC) in Pennsylvania and SEVA’s Spires — winner in the 100 breast earlier in the night — went stroke for stroke for most of the event before Jensen pulled away to win in 1:39.64. He would have finished third in the open event. Spires finished in an equally impressive 1:41.37. The rest of the field was left eating bubbles with a full four second gap between second and third place.
Open 200 freestyle:
Delaware’s Kaitlyn Jones, 18, and RMSC’s Anna Kolanowski, 17, went head to head in the girls’ open event finishing .15 seconds apart. Jones got the best of the younger Kolanowski, winning in 1:48.30.
It was an even tighter race in the boys’ event, where four swimmers when under 1:40. Delaware’s Matt Stasiunas touched first in 1:39.41 just ahead of Koya Osada who touched in 1:39.45. RMSC’s Barry Mangold was third in 1:39.71, followed by NOVA Aquatics’ Townley Haas in 1:39.94.
11-12 100 freestyle:
CBST’s Morgan Scott won the girls’ event in 53.16. RMSC’s Sanjay Wijesekera won the boys’ event in 50.91 — a full three seconds ahead of second place. It was Wijesekera’s third win of the meet.
13-14 100 butterfly:
It may already be time to begin speculating when Cassidy Bayer will take down the national records in the 13-14 age group. Bayer won the girls’ 100 butterfly handily in 54.40, within a second of the NAG record held by Stanford standout Felicia Lee. Bayer owns all three long-course meters butterfly records in the 11-12 age group after going on a tear through the books during the summer.
On the boys’ side, UDAC’s Jensen got his second win of the night in the boys’ 100 fly in a time of 50.50. That time would have been just under Grant Goddard’s winning time at Metros last year in the event.
11-12 50 butterfly:
Madison Homovich of the North Carolina Aquatic Club outpaced the field in the girls’ sprint fly event to win in 26.76. RMSC’s John Clado won the boys’ event in a time of 26.47 in much the same manner, touching first by a comfortable margin.
13-14 400 individual medley:
CBST’s Szekely earned her second win of the night in the girls’ 400 IM winning easily in 4:17.32. She was followed by a whole cast of NCAP rising stars who finished second through sixth after an exciting cat-and-mouse game between the five teammates. Gwennap was second in 4:21.20; Moshos was third in 4:25.35; Bayer was fourth in 4:25.71; Annie Boone was fifth in 4:29.28; and Meilus was sixth in 4:30.55.
NCAP’s Bouke Edskes won the boys’ event in 4:13.59.
Open 400 individual medley:
Poseidon’s Madison Boswell and Delaware’s Lily Dubroff dueled in the girls’ open event. Boswell touched first in a winning time of 4:24.07, less than half a second faster than Dubroff.
Osada — who was out-touched in the 200 free earlier — won the boys’ event by a comfortable 1.5 second margin. The winning time was 3:53.16
11-12 100 backstroke:
CBST’s Scott earned her swim club their fourth individual win of the night in the girls’ backstroke, breaking the 1-minute barrier to win the event. Her time was 59.71, exactly one second ahead of second place finisher Sinead Eksteen from NCAP.
Wijesekera earned his fourth win of the meet in the boys’ backstroke. He crushed the field by nearly three seconds in a winning time of 56.72.
13-14 800 freestyle relays:
NCAP won both relays, but in very different fashions. The team of Moshos, Baker, Meilus and Gwennap [edited per comment] ran away with the girls’ relay in a winning time of 7:37.59, almost nine seconds ahead of second-placed CBST. The boys race was much closer, with a difference of .36 separating first and second. NCAP’s team of Brandon Fabian, Sam Pomajevich, Samuel Tarter and Wu beat NOVA Aquatics’ Jack McSorley, Brendan Herkins, Sam Cuthbert and Aaron Schultz with a winning time of 7:11.73.