The USA Swimming Pro Swim Series is an sequence of six meets across the country beginning in January at the University of Texas, then moving to Georgia, then Mesa, Indiana, Santa Clara, and finally at Ohio. This series of meets bring together the top swimmers and coaches from across the United States, and often include Olympic-level athletes from around the world. These meets are arguably the first opportunity for our TNT swimmers to attend a swim meet that is televised.
This year, after a year of no qualifiers, TNT returned to the Mesa meet with our four Winter Junior National qualifiers, along with Mallory Korenwinder, to compete at the venue in Arizona. Besides the championship, and televised, performance of Mallory Korenwinder (who finished 8th in the 50 meter breaststroke), three of our four remaining swimmers earned a second swim in either the C or D final. After Mallory, JD Koster was our next highest finisher with a 17th place touch in the 200 meter butterfly during finals where he swam nearly three seconds faster than his preliminary swim. JD was a two-time finalist, also finishing 32nd in the 50 meter butterfly. Our next highest finisher was Visalia’s Megan Ridenour who won the D-final of the 50 meter breaststroke with a time of 34.25. Preston Niayesh was our other dual-finalist, and he finished 30th in the 200 breaststroke, and then 31st in the 50 breaststroke. Danielle Albright highest place was 39th in the 200 meter breaststroke.
Pacific Swimming’s Far Western Championships is considered one of the most prestigious age group competitions across the country due to its history, and has served as an initial testing stage for many top performing age group athletes in past years who went on to become some of the top swimmers in the world. It is a meet that fields only the top eight (ten in this year’s case) athletes from each event for a championship final heat, with no consolation or bonus final. This year, Tule Nation Tritons had four of our fifteen swimmers earn a spot among the top ten performers in their respective events at the meet that took place in the Santa Clara International Swim Complex over the first weekend of April.
Our finalists were led by 13-year old Bryan Wong who shared in the highest place of anyone on our team, and also earned a final swim in two of his events, doing both of these while competing at the bottom of the 13-14 age division. Bryan’s highest finish was 4th place in the 13-14 200 yard breaststroke event, where he posted a time of 2:14.08 as a lifetime best by over a second during the first day of the meet, and then finished the meet with his other final, that resulting from a nearly nine second improvement in the 400 IM by swimming a time of 4:14.98 in the final heat (also posting his lifetime best 100 fly along the way as a split). The only team record that was broken at the meet also belonged to Bryan, who posted a time of 2:02.94 in the 200 IM, and placed 15th in the event, surpassing his own previous record of 2:03.37 that he set at the Junior Olympics just two months earlier. His time currently stands as the 88th fastest nationally for boys at age 13.
Our next highest finisher was 16-year old Garrison Price who posted a time of 52.04 in the 100 fly, and finished 4th. Sixteen year old Bryce Wong scored in the 15-16 200 fly by swimming a time of 1:56.86, and finishing 7th there, while Visalia’s 16-year old Janessa Bringe scored with an 8th place finish in the girls 1000 yard freestyle by improving nearly seven seconds to a 10:44.70 in the event.
Remaining swimmers with their highest place finish include Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt (age 12) who finished 18th in the 50 breaststroke, Drew Black (age 11) who finished 53rd in both the 50 and 100 fly, Selma’s William Butts (age 12) finishing 45th in the 50 fly, Peyton Costa (age 14) finishing 17th in the 500 free, Visalia’s Layla Flores (age 14) finishing 15th in the 200 IM, Visalia’s Mackenzie Garza (age 16) finishing 28th in the 100 free, Selma’s Lucas Huckabay (age 10) finishing 11th in both the 200 free and 50 free, Lemoore’s Madalynn Lady (age 10) finishing 27th in the 50 back, Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy (age 10) finishing 14th in the 100 free, Ava Olson (age 12) finished 25th in the 200 fly, and Alexa Wong (age 11) who finished 43rd in the 400 IM.
Congratulations to Drew Black, and the Selma duo of William Butts and Lucas Huckabay who were our only swimmers to improve 100% of their times while at the meet.
Eight TNT swimmers representing five of our six current towns competed at the 2018 SWAGR meet in Clovis, many of whom are focused on the Far Western Championships two weeks hence. Selma’s 11-year old Sienna Abernathy maintained a 100% improvement rate, and had as her highlight event a 14-second improvement in the 500 yard freestyle where her time of 5:42.76 just missed the Far Western standard by .07 seconds while still on the bottom of the 11-12 age division. Visalia’s 12-year old, Ella Bettencourt, is already a first-time Far Western qualifier, but she added to her Far Western schedule by achieving a new cut in the 100 yard freestyle after swimming 58.30 in the event, and improving by nearly a full second. Drew Black is another swimmer who already has Far Western cuts, and she posted a time of 59.11 in her 100 freestyle, just missing a new event for Far Westerns by a mere .62 seconds. Another swimmer who is knocking at the door of Far Westerns is Selma’s 13-year old, Tyler Coles, who improved nearly four seconds in the 200 backstroke to post a time of 2:08.09, which is now within a second of the Far Western time standard (only .8 seconds away), and while still on the bottom of the 13-14 age division. Layla Flores is probably the most veteran of our Far Western qualifiers who attended the SWAGR meet, and will be attending Far Westerns, and her highlight event was a new Sectional time standard achieved in the 100 yard breaststroke where she posted a time of 1:07.24 in the event as the event champion. Hanford’s 11-year old Thomas Matthews is another swimmer to keep an eye on for next year’s Far Western’s since he is now well within range of qualifying in four events (50 fly, 50 back, 100 fly & 100 back) after swimming 2 seconds from the standard in each 50, and 4 seconds from the standard in each 100 yard event. Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy already has a full schedule of qualified events at Far Westerns, but still, her 8-second improvement in the 200 IM to a 2:40.99 is a new cut, and in one of her off events. Finally, 11-year old Alexa Wong entered only two events into SWAGR, with clear intent of achieving new Far Western cuts in both events, and she did just that by improving over two seconds in the 200 IM (2:22.84), and nearly 19 seconds in the 400 IM (4:57.69).
Far Western Championships takes place at the Santa Clara International Swim Center over the first weekend of April.
Our very own Mallory Korenwinder competed at her first Division 1 NCAA Championship meet in March of 2018 at the University of Ohio, in Columbus as a collegiate sophomore. She competed in the 100 yard breaststroke where she had her highest finish at 27th, as well as the 200 yard breaststroke, and 200 medley relay for the University of Arizona (Pac-12). The women's NCAA meet took place one week prior to the men's D1 NCAA championship where our Kyle Grissom competed in the 200 freestyle relay for USC.
Five of seven TNT swimmers earned second swims at the 2018 Spring Sectional Championships over the first weekend of March in Carlsbad, and 15-year old Danielle Albright led the group with the only championship swim, marching out from the ready-room in the 100 yard breaststroke where she posted a time of 1:04.89 in the preliminary heats for an 8th place finish into finals. In a meet that recognized the top 30 in one of three heats, Danielle also came home with a C-final swim in the 400 IM where she posted a time of 4:34.94 in the preliminary heats.
Visalia’s Megan Ridenour had the next highest place on the team, with her 1:05.15 swim in the 100 breaststroke finals which was enough for a 15th place finish there. Megan maintained one of the highest improvement rates, bettering two of her three events. Alonso Escobedo competed in five events at the meet, improved three of them, and earned a second swim in the B-final of the 400 IM where he swam 4:09.53 in the preliminary heats, and then posted a life-time best in finals with a 4:07.33 for a 17th place finish. Visalia’s Mackenzie Garza was our only swimmer to maintain a 100% improvement rate, bettering both of her events, and finishing 19th in the 50 freestyle after posting a time of 24.07 in the preliminary heats. JD Koster was our only other finalist, and he did this in the 400 IM after swimming a time of 4:09.90 in the prelims, and then finishing 20th in the B-final.
Preston Niayesh had his highest finish as 39th in the 100 breaststroke (59.87), while Selma’s Jonas Huckabay touched 94th in the 500 free (4:58.98).
Eleven TNT swimmers competed at the Juanita Allington Memorial Swim Meet over the last weekend of February, and six of our swimmers performed in scoring position within individual events. Our two top performers who earned championship swims both finished in 5th place, and included Visalia’s 14-year old Layla Flores who improved nearly eight seconds in the 400 IM to post a time of 4:38.78 after improving over five seconds in the preliminary heats. Her Visalia training partner, and Junior National qualifier, 17-year old Megan Ridenour posted a time of 1:05.74 in the 100 yard breaststroke, and finished 5th in that event. Both swimmers scored in two events, with Layla finishing 16th in the 200 IM (2:14.09), and Megan finishing 12th in the 200 breast (2:25.85).
Thirteen year old Bryan Wong was the only other swimmer with two scoring swims, and he did this with two 14th place finishes, one in the 200 breast where he posted a lifetime best of 2:15.20, and the 100 breast where he swam a time of 1:02.54. Our other scoring swims came from Visalia’s Mackenzie Garza who finished 13th in the 50 free (24.57), Brett Wong who finished 18th in the 50 free (22.56), and Selma’s Jonas Huckabay who finished 20th in the 1650 freestyle (17:58.97).
Other finalist included Visalia’s Janessa Bringe (100 fly & 200 IM), Peyton Costa (200 back, 400 IM, 100 back, & 100 breast), and Bryce Wong (100 back). Selma’s Jackson Huckabay had his highest finish as 43rd in the 200 IM, while 12-year old Ava Olson finished 85th in the 200 IM as our youngest competitor at the senior-level meet.