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.
At a swim meet where only about a third of all events that had been previously recorded on the team were improved, six TNT swimmers still were able to manage an improvement rate at 50% or better, and these swimmers were led by ten year old Raquel Mecum who improved two events that had been previously recorded with the team, and swam the 100 meter breaststroke for the first time. Our next highest improvement rates went to Peyton Costa and Hanford’s Nathan Hunt who each improved four of their seven events. The remaining three swimmers maintained a 50% improvement rate, and these three included: Adian Champagne (improving 3 of 6), Jillian Gaines (2 of 4), and Carlos Garcia-Lemus (1 of 2).
Five of our swimmers were event champions in in their respective A, B or C divisions, and these were led by Katherine Mendyk who won all three events she competed in on Sunday within the B-division. These events included the 100 meter freestyle (1:09.24), 100 breaststroke (1:26.79), and 200 IM (2:44.44). Peyton Costa competed primarily in the A-division, and he won both the 200 meter breaststroke (2:54.71), and 200 butterfly (2:44.42) events. Jillian Gaines was the B-division winner of the 200 fly (3:16.72), while Ava Olson was the A-division winner of the 400 IM (6:18.90). Our only other event champion was Benjamin Wheeler who improved over 40 seconds in the 800 free to win the B-division with a time of 10:06.69.
Eight TNT swimmers traveled to Pleasanton over the last weekend of March to compete at one of the most competitive age group championship meets in the nation. Pacific Swimming’s Far Western Championships has an international history that dates back to 1925 where the inaugural meet was held at the San Francisco Fleishhacker Municipal heated salt-water swimming pool that played host to the likes of Johnny Weissmuller. More recently the meet has played host to the likes of Michel Phelps, Janet Evans, Pablo Moreales, Summer Sanders, Natalie Coughlin and Missy Franklyn.
This year, 12-year old Bryan Wong competed at the meet along with his teammates, and began the meet with a near miss to finals, finishing 11th in the preliminary heats of the 200 breaststroke, but with a new team record of 2:30.33 which currently stands as the 178th fastest nationally. He came away with earning a final swim in three events later in the meet that resulted in three new team records. He started his championship performance with a 3rd place finish in the 50 breaststroke, where his time of 30.59 fell over a second under his pre-existing team record of 31.71 that he set at the Age Group Championships in San Diego last December. His new record stands as the 78th fastest nationally for boys at age 12. He improved nearly ten seconds in the 400 IM to post a new record of 4:44.85 in the events to finish 5th, and once again went under his previous record of 4:54.35 that he set last December at the Tulare meet. His new records now stand as the 167th fastest nationally for his age and gender. His final championship swim was in the 100 breaststroke where his time of 1:07.40 was nearly a two second drop, and again went under his San Diego swim, and previous record, of 1:09.22, and currently stands as the 118th fastest nationally.
Our team had two additional finalists, and one of the remaining two included a new team record. Sister, ten-year old Alexa Wong, also set a new team record, but in the preliminary heats of the 10-under 100 backstroke. She improved her lifetime best by swimming 1:08.90 in the event, and finished 9th in a field of 10 swimmers in finals. Alexa is the 111th fastest nationally for girls of age 10. Fourteen year old Danielle Albright was our team’s only other finalist, swimming a time of 1:06.72, and finishing 8th in the 100 yard breaststroke event for the 13-14 year old girls.
Selma’s 10-year old Sienna Abernathy had her highest finish as 36th in the 200 free (2:21.42), while 10-year old Drew Black was the only TNT swimmer to improve 100% of times, and finished 27th in the 100 back (1:13.34) as her highest place. Visalia’s 11-year old Layla Flores topped her performance with a 50th place finish in the 100 breast (1:10.65) while competing at the bottom of the 11-12 division, while Preston Niayesh finished 16th in his 100 breaststroke event (1:01.76) for the 15-16 division. Swimming her newly qualified event from the previous weekend, 11-year old Ava Olson finished 28th in the 11-12 200 fly (2:29.99).