While 21 of our TNT swimmers competed at the June Age Group Invitational in Ventura where the temperature remained in the mid to high 70’s, twenty-four of our team members braved the blistering valley record-breaking temperatures that exceeded 110 degrees over the same third weekend of June, and our performance resulted in four event champions that were led by double winner, Preston Niayesh who was the first place finisher in both the 100 meter breaststroke (1:11.84) and 100 meter freestyle (56.91) where he posted his lifetime best by well over a second. Our remaining event champions included Danielle Albright who won the 13-over 200 IM (2:37.01), JD Koster who won the 13-over 100 backstroke (1:08.26), and Caroline Mendyk who won the 11-12 girls 50 meter breaststroke (43.63).
Despite the heat, our team still managed to maintain an improvement rate of 48% which was led by Visalia’s Daniel Haley who entered six events and improved all six. He was followed by three other swimmers who improved 100% of their times, and these included JD Koster (4 out of 4), Mackenzie Sepeda (2 of 2), and Visalia’s Luke Vanwoudenberg (2 of 2). Other swimmers who maintained an improvement percentage at or above 50% included Ethan Enquist (75%), Selma’s Chesney Watson (75%), Raquel Mecum (67%), Caroline Mendyk (63%), Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy (57%), Jillian Gaines (50%), Visalia’s Tyson Phillips (50%), Visalia’s Maryn Vanwoudenberg (50%), and Selma’s Kylie Walker (50%).
Nine TNT swimmers were event champions at the Mike Snyder Memorial Meet that took place over the Memorial Day weekend, and these gold medal performances were led by ten year old Alexa Wong who entered five events, and won four of them. Alexa took home a first place in the 100 meter freestyle (1:10.82), 200 IM (2:52.08), 50 fly (36.24), and 50 free (33.32). Of these events, she set new team records in two of them. Her 100 meter freestyle time of 1:10.82 currently stands as the 52nd fastest nationally for girls at age 10, and falls under Skylar Ford’s previous record of 1:11.31 that was set five years ago while competing at the Junior Olympics in 2012. Alexa’s 200 IM swim of 2:52.08 is nearly two and half seconds under Danielle Albright’s previous team record set at JO’s in 2013 and stands as the 31st fastest nationally for girls at her age. Her only second place was in the 400 meter freestyle, where her time of 5:22.23 slides under Danielle’s previous tem record of 5:24.37 set at the Fresno meet in 2013 and maintains her highest current national ranking at 29th.
The only other team record set at the Mike Snyder meet was from brother, Bryan Wong, who returned from a stellar performance at the Speedo Grand Challenge with the sole purpose of winning, and breaking the team record, at the Mike Snyder meet in the 11-12 400 freestyle, an apparent goal when watching his first 25 meters of his swim. Bryan did just that, and swam over ten seconds under Jackson Huckabay’s previous record of 4:44.10 set at JO’s two years ago in 2015. Bryan’s new team record of 4:34.32 is currently posted as the 8th fastest time nationally for boys at age 12, and we’ll see if it maintains the top-10 in the current reporting cycle that ends at the close of August. USA Swimming recognizes the top-10 age group swimmers who are 12 to 16 years old annually.
Besides Alexa Wong and Bryan Wong, our team had seven additional event champions who included Visalia’s Layla Flores, our current team record holder in the 11-12 100 meter backstroke, who won the 100 meter backstroke with a time of 1:13.60, and also took home the win in the 200 IM with a time of 2:42.56 for the 13-14 girls division. Our only other double winner was Layla’s previous training partner, now training in Selma, Kylie Walker, who currently holds six 10-under team records, and she won the 100 butterfly with a time of 1:09.32, and the 100 free with a time of 1:04.48 also in the 13-14 division. Drew Black was the winner of the 10-under 50 back with a time of 39.00 and improving over four seconds, while Peyton Costa continues a characteristic 100% improvement rate as he won the 400 free for the 13-14 division with a time of 4:40.35. Jillian Gaines was the winner of the 15-16 mile (1500 free) event with a time of 23.02.24 after improving over a minute in the event, and Katherine Mendyk took home the gold in the 15-16 200 breaststroke with a time of 3:03.98. Finally, 11-year old Ava Olson was the winner of the 12-under 400 IM after posting a time of 6:21.58.
Forty-three TNT swimmers competed at the meet, and forty-one of them had previously recorded times with the team and as a group, they maintained an astounding improvement percentage that exceeded 70%. Fourteen of our swimmers improved 100% of their times, and these included: Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt (improving 7 of 7 events), Peyton Costa (8 of 8), Riley Duffy (4 of 4), Diego Gutierrez (6 of 6), Ashton King (2 of 2), Hanford’s Genoveve Mcilwaine (5 of 5), Visalia’s Tyson Phillips (2 of 2), Visalia’s Emelia Rasner (4 of 4), Selma’s Delbert Salvadalena (1 of 1), Blake Sifton (1 of 1), Selma’s Chesney Watson (6 of 6), Bryan Wong (1 of 1), and Bryce Wong (1 of 1). The following nineteen swimmers maintained an improvement rate at or above 50%: Caroline Mendyk (88%), Daniel Haley (86%), Sienna Abernathy (83%), Drew Black (83%), Isabella Klawitter (83%), Jade Perez (80%), Duncan Champagne (75%), Laney Cox (75%), Xavier Gutierrez (75%), Benjamin Wheeler (75%), Aidan Champagne (71%), Addison Mccullough (71%), Emma Bettencourt (67%), Ciena Clarke (67%), Connor Bruton (60%), Alexa Wong (60%), Nathan Hunt (57%), Ava Olson (56%), and Jacob Wheeler (50%).
A warm welcome goes to sisters Amy Murphy and Michelle Murphy who posted new times with the club.
Six TNT swimmers traveled to the Irvine pool over the Memorial Day weekend to compete at a venue that has played host to Team USA selection meets such as US Nationals, and this weekend played host to swimmers representing programs such as USC, Stanford, Cal Berkley, and Auburn University to name only a few.
Three of our swimmers earned second swims, and these were led by twelve year old Bryan Wong who competed in the 12-under division of the senior-level meet, raced in three events, and earned three championship final swims. Bryan finished 2nd in the 50 meter breaststroke, where he posted a time of 34.10 improving nearly three seconds in the event, and swimming a full two seconds under the pre-existing team record that was set by Preston Niayesh at Junior Olympics in 2013. His time currently stands as the fourth fastest nationally for boys at age 12, with the top time in the nation being posted by the individual who won the event at Speedo Grand Challenge. Bryan’s next event was the 100 breaststroke, and once again he finished second, and with a time of 1:13.98 in the championship final that followed an improvement from his preliminary swim. He was once again well under Preston Niayesh’s previous team record of 1:18.33 set at the same JO’s in 2013. Bryan’s time ties for the third spot nationally in the reporting cycle that will close at the end of August. The top 10 swimmers will be recognized by USA Swimming. His final championship swam was in the 200 IM, where once again he improved his time twice, and this time to a 2:25.62 falling under Peyton Costa’s previous team record of 2:31.24 set at the Junior Olympic meet last year. His current time ranks 10th among 12-year old boys.
Fourteen year old Danielle Albright had been competing at the meet since she was in the 11-12 age division, and earned a championship final swim when she first arrived at age 11. She continues earning that second swim, this time by making it to the A-consolation final of the 200 meter breaststroke and finishing 11th with a time of 2:42.85 which was nearly a three second improvement. Danielle also swam to a 15th place finish in the B-consolation on day 1 in the 100 meter breaststroke with a time of 1:15.70 which was an improvement over her preliminary swim. Preston Niayesh was our only other finalist, moving from 26th in the preliminary heats to finish 17th in the B-consolation final of his 200 breaststroke with a time improvement of nearly two seconds to a 2:30.02.
Alonso Escobedo earned his highest finish as 38th in the 200 IM (2:17.34), while Sierra Jett returned from Auburn University to join us, and finished 47th in her top event of the 50 free (28.20). JD Koster had his highest finish as 30th in the 400 IM (4:48.94) after improving over five seconds there.
Five TNT swimmers competed at the 2017 Swim Meet of Champions, this year held at the Irvine complex opposed to the traditional Mission Viejo venue due to re-construction of the Mission Viejo pool, and our swimmers came away with three time improvements, a rate that was led by Visalia’s Lauren Geiger who improved one of her three events, but improved it twice: once as a time trial event, and then again in the actual event. Lauren’s highest place was in the 100 meter butterfly, where her improvement to 1:08.05 finished 70th there.
Four of our swimmers performed well enough in the preliminary heats to either earn a spot in one of three final heats outright, or close enough to be scratched into a C-final heat. Danielle Albright was the top seed in the C-final of the 200 breaststroke after swimming a 2:46.64 in the preliminary heats, and then her time of 2:47.96 in the C-final was enough for a 21st place finish in the event. She also swam 1:18.88 in the preliminary heats of the 100 breaststroke, enough for a 31st place finish, and then scratches left her at the 1st alternate position (25th) where she was able to compete in lane 1 of the C-final, swim a full two seconds faster than the morning swim to a time of 1:16.89, and finished 18th overall.
Alonso Escobedo competed in the 200 meter backstroke, and swam a 2:25.45 in the preliminary heats to also finish 31st, and then was scratched into finals where he didn’t compete. However, he did finish 37th in preliminary heats of the 200 IM on the last day of the meet with a time of 2:18.56, which was close enough to scratch him into the C-finals where his time of 2:19.47 finished 23rd in the event.
JD Koster earned a final swim in three of his six total events that he competed in for the meet, and all three of his finals took place on day one and two. He swam 2:14.46 in his strongest event, 200 fly, during the preliminary heats to finish 24th, and then improved his preliminary time to 2:13.19 and finished 18th overall. On day two he posted a time of 2:36.33 in the preliminary heats of the 200 breaststroke to place 28th going into finals, and then swam 2:39.96 to actually move up to 22nd overall. His last final was also on day two, but in the 400 IM where he posted a lifetime best of 4:54.34 to finish 25th in the morning, one place out of finals, and then scratched into the C-final where he swam a time of 5:00.34 to finish 24th overall.
Our last finalist was Preston Niayesh who competed in two events, and swam two finals, first by posting a time of 2:36.98 in the 200 meter breaststroke to finish 29th, but close enough to scratch into the C-final where he posted a time of 2:37.20, and finished 21st in the event. His last final was in the 100 meter breaststroke, where his preliminary time of 1:10.03 was 28th, and again close enough to scratch into the C-finals where he posted a time of 1:09.33 to again finish 21st in the event.
The sister-brother duo of 10-year old sister Alexa Wong and 12-year old brother Bryan Wong had previously made their initial marks on the short course team record board for TNT, and as a result of the Reedley meet that took place over the last weekend of April, are now beginning their impact onto the long course realm. Each of the two marked this early season long course meet with two new team records, the accumulation of their efforts over time being a notable reflection on the level of commitment considering a two-hour commute from Coalinga and back (one hour each way) to make it to practice nightly.
Ten year old Alexa Wong started her meet with a bang, improving nearly two seconds in the 200 meter freestyle, finishing 2nd in the event, but swimming a time of 2:33.85, falling just over a second and a half under Daniel Albright’s previous team record of 2:35.42 that was set at Junior Olympics in the summer of 2013, and posting the 10th fastest time in the nation for girls at age 10 to date. Her second team record came in the 100 meter backstroke, placing her as the owner now of both the 100 yard and 100 meter record in the stroke. Her first-place finish in the 100 meter backstroke, and time of 1:21.79 slides under Layla Flores’s previous record of 1:22.24 that was set at Junior Olympics in 2014. This time now stands as the 18th fastest nationally, in a reporting period that extends through August.
Brother Bryan Wong posted a new team record, also in the 200 meter freestyle, but in the 11-12 age division. His 2:14.05 just slides under Jonas Huckabay’s previous record of 2:14.70 that was set two years ago at Junior Olympics, and Bryan’s new record currently stands as the 11th fastest nationally for boys at age 12. There are currently only four California swimmers who are 12 years old among the top 10 in the nation. Bryan also set a new team record in the 100 meter freestyle, where his time of 1:02.68 edges under Peyton Costa’s previous record of 1:02.94 set just last year at JO’s. Bryan’s time currently stands as the 22nd fastest nationally for boys at age 12, in this early phase of the long course season.
Two of our Visalia swimmers were uncontested at the meet, winning all four events they entered. These two include 13-year old Layla Flores who won the 200 breast (3:07.14), 400 IM (5:44.56), 100 breast (1:26.25), and 200 IM (2:41.33) events, along with her 13-year old training partner, Kylie Walker, who won the 100 fly (1:09.48), 50 free (29.26), 100 free (1:06.47), and 100 breast (1:27.44). Other event champions included: Sienna Abernathy (age 10 – winning 1 event), Danielle Albright (14 – winning 3 events), Ella Bettencourt (11 – 1), Drew Black (10 – 1), Connor Bruton (14 – 1), Riley Carpenter (13 – 1), Aidan Champagne (12 – 2), Ciara Clarke (11 – 1), Peyton Costa (13 – 5), Riley Duffy (12 – 1), Diego Gutierrez (13 – 3), Daniel Haley (13 – 3), Nathan Hunt (12 – 1), JD Koster (16 – 3), Addison Mccullough (10 – 2), Genoveve Mcilwaine (13 – 1), Caroline Mendyk (12 – 1), Katherine Mendyk (16 – 1), Axel Miller (10 – 3), Preston Niayesh (16 – 1), Tyson Phillips (8 – 2), Chesney Watson (12 – 2), Benjamin Wheeler (13 – 3), Jacob Wheeler (8 – 1), Alexa Wong (10 – 5), and Bryan Wong (12 – 5).
With an improvement rate of 50% or greater as an indicator of successful improvement, our team maintained a 54% improvement rate, with eleven swimmers improving 100% of their events that had been previously recorded with our team. Congratulations to: Emma Bettencourt (improving 2 of 2 events), Paulina Cemo (1 of 1), Riley Duffy (2 of 2), Diego Gutierrez (4 of 4), Xavier Gutierrez (3 of 3), Addison Mccullough (7 of 7), Jojo Mecum (3 of 3), Marcus Mecum (3 of 3), Finnlee Morgan (3 of 3), Luke Vanwoudenberg (1 of 1), and Maryan Vanwoudenberg (1 of 1). The following 22 swimmers improved 50% or more of their times. Congratulations also go to: Isabel Burrough (86%), Sydney King (83%), Rylee Noronha (83%), Ella Bettencourt (80%), Madalynn Lady (80%), Genoveve Mcilwaine (80%), Bryan Wong (80%), Kate Geiger (75%), Chesney Watson (75%), Drew Black (71%), Carlos Garcia-Lemus (67%), Daniel Haley (67%), Isabella Klawitter (67%), Raquel Mecum (67%), Addia Watson (60%), Benjamin Wheeler (57%), Alexa Wong (57%), John Cemo (50%), Aidan Champagne (50%), Peyton Costa (50%), Nathan Hunt (50%), and Luke Pena (50%).
The following nine swimmers entered only new events. A long course welcome to: Connor Bruton, Riley Carpenter, Brayden Coppola, Morgan Darpli, Axel Miller, Tyson Phillips, Mackenzie Sepeda, Arya Shrestha, and Avani Shrestha.