Ten TNT swimmers qualified for, and competed at, the 2019 Short Course Far Western Championships hosted by Santa Clara Swim Club at their International Swim Center in Santa Clara over the first weekend of April, and half of our swimmers performed well enough to earn a second swim among one of ten championships finalists. Although this is the first year Far Westerns offered a non-scoring consolation heat of the next ten swimmers, the all of TNT finalists competed in the championship (top-10) heat, and a vast majority of their final swims were in that heat. The caliber of Far Westerns is aptly reflected in at least one National Age Group Record being broken while at the meet.
Our top performance must go to 13-year old Bryan Wong who competed in seven events, and scored in all seven by earning a championship (top-10) swim in each event. This performance resulted in outscoring all but one of the fifty 13-14 year old boys who earned a score in any event, and missing the high point award by a mere two points (57 vs 59). Bryan was the event champion in the 400 IM, posting a time of 4:04.61, and breaking his preexisting record by over four seconds when he set it at Sectionals just over a month earlier. His time currently stands as the 18th fastest nationally, and is a new Futures cut for him. Bryan was the runner up in four additional events, three of which also resulted in team records. His first 2nd place finish was in the 200 breaststroke where his prelim time of 2:07.29 bettered his Sectional time by over two seconds, and now stands as the 28th fastest nationally for boys at age 14. He followed this with a 2nd place in the 200 IM, resetting his team record from 1:58.54 set in December at the Age Group Championships, to a 1:55.52, and a time that ranks 31st nationally. Another 2nd place resulted from his 58.63 in the 100 breaststroke, once again improving upon his previous team record of 59.66 from JO’s in February, and posting the 28th fastest time nationally in that event. The other 2nd place was in the 1000 freestyle where he posted a time of 9:42.87. His final record resulted from his 1:45.20 swam in the preliminary heats of the 200 freestyle. This was an improvement from his JO relay leadoff time of 1:47.16, and currently ranks 105th nationally. His final scoring event was from his lifetime best of 49.05 in the 100 freestyle where he touched 6th.
Next closest for high point was Bryce Wong who scored 23 points and accumulated the 11th most points for the 17-18 division. He did this by earning top-10 finishes in four events that included a pair of 4th place finishes in the 200 fly (1:53.88), and 200 IM (1:57.37) events, as well as a 5th place finish in the 200 breast (2:14.02), and 8th place finish in the 100 fly (52.69) for the 17-18 division.
The next highest high point ranking was the 16th point accumulation by Alexa Wong for the 11-12 girls division, and she did this by scoring 22 points and earning a final swim in all seven of her events, six of which were in the championship heat. Alexa’s highest place was a 3rd place touch in the 200 fly with a time of 2:11.04, sliding under the previous team record set in the preliminary heats of the same meet by Drew Black as a 2:12.92. The new record stands as the 28th fastest nationally for 12-year old girls to date. Her next highest finish was a 7th place in the 400 IM where her time of 4:38.43 is a new Sectional cut for her, and is an improvement of her JO record of 4:40.62 set in February. This is the 26th ranked time nationally. Next in place was an 8th place finish, and another team record, in the 200 IM where she posted a time of 2:11.86, again swimming under her JO record (2:14.08), and posting the 49th fastest time nationally. Her final record was also in an IM, but this time she swam a 1:02.50 in the 100 IM, and this is a new record for her, sliding just under Danielle Albright’s 1:02.85 set at the Clovis meet in 2016. This time stands as the 98th fastest nationally. Alexa also earned an 8th place finish in the 500 free (5:21.59), a 9th place finish in the 100 fly (1:00.04), and a 17th place finish in the 100 free (55.93).
Visalia’s Janessa Bringe had our next highest point accumulation ranking for her 17-18 division. Her 20th place ranking resulted in her scoring in all four of her events, the highest of which resulted from the 10:47.90 in the 1000 freestyle, and 5th place finish there. She also finished 7th in the 400 IM (4:47.77), 9th in the 200 fly (2:13.74), and 10th in the 500 free where she posted a lifetime best of 5:12.14 in the preliminary heats.
Our only other swimmer to score points was Drew Black who did so in two events, beginning with a record breaking time of 59.53 in the 100 fly, swimming twice under the minute mark, and becoming the first 11-12 year old girl in the history of our team to do so. Drew’s previous record was 1:00.13 set at the Winter Age Group Championships in December. Her new record stands as the 69th fastest nationally for girls at age 12. She also swam under her preexisting team record in the 50 fly, this time posting a time of 26.88, and earning a second swim in the consolation heat where she placed 11th. This time currently ranks as the 64th fastest nationally. Drew did score in the 200 fly where she placed 6th after posting a lifetime best in the preliminary heats (2:12.92).
Ava Olson had her highest place at 21st in the 13-14 200 yard breaststroke (2:28.32), while Porterville’s Trevor Riley improved 100% of his times and had his highest touch at 24th in the 15-16 100 free (49.36). Selma’s 8-year old Logan Huckabay touched 33rd in the 10-under 100 fly with his best time of 1:15.78, while Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt improved 100% of her times, and was 36th in the 50 free (25.12) while competing on the bottom of the age group. Also on the bottom of the age group was Selma’s Lucas Huckabay who touched 43rd in the 11-12 boys 200 free (2:07.83).
Our nation’s Division 1 NCAA Swimming Championships is considered to offer the fastest level of competition outside of the actual Olympic Games. Considering that many swimmers across the nation, and in the history of swimming, who have achieved Olympic Trial cuts have never earned a spot to compete at the Division 1 NCAA meet is an arguable testament that the D-1 NCAA level of competition supersedes even the Olympic Trials. It is, unquestionably, the fastest short course yard meet in the world, and getting an invitation to compete there is truly an accomplishment.
In the course of our team, we’ve proudly had four swimmers compete in individual events at the D-1 NCAA Championships, and most recently Mallory Korenwinder (competing for the University of Arizona) and Kyle Grissom (competing for USC) completed their season at this culminating meet in Austin, Texas. The two join Kohlton Norys (who competed for Auburn), and Samantha Goates (who competed for LSU) as D-1 NCAA qualifiers. Kyle Grissom had participated at the NCAA meet for the past three years, and his 50 freestyle time of 19.35 was fast enough to earn a spot at the meet this year. Mallory made her second appearance at the meet this year, after posting a time of 59.90 in the 100 yard breaststroke event. Kyle finished 26th for the 50 free in a field of 46 at the meet (the winning time this year was 18.63), while Mallory finished 30th for the 100 breaststroke in a field of 50 (the winning time was 55.73).
Six TNT swimmers traveled to the Roseville Aquatic Complex to compete in the 2019 South Western Age Group Regional (SWAGR) Championships that recognizes only the top 10 swimmers from each age to advance to finals, and Visalia’s 13-year old Ella Bettencourt did just that in three different events. Her highest place was 9th in the 13-year old 50 freestyle where she posted her lifetime best of 25.60 in the preliminary heats of the event. She then followed up with two additional championship swims that included another lifetime best of 2:02.66 from the preliminary heats of the 200 freestyle, and a lifetime best of 1:03.03 in the prelims of the 100 backstroke. Our next highest finish was Addison McCullough’s 17th place in the 12-year old girl’s 200 yard breaststroke, a 20th place finish for the 13-year old 100 fly by Visalia’s Emma Bettencourt, a 21st place in the 50 free by Visalia’s Lara Omololu, a 25th place finish in the 13-year old 200 back by Visalia’s Kristine Marinos, and finally a 39th place touch by Visalia’s Kate Geiger in the 13-year old 200 IM. Kate Geiger and Lara Omololu each improved 100% of their swims.
Our very own Missy LeStrange has received numerous recognitions in the past few years that included becoming inducted into the Hall of Fame, and being last year’s Grand Masters Triathlete of the Year, but this past month she had been notified that she is named the 2018 Overall Age Group Female Triathlete of the Year by the USA Triathlon’s Age Group Committee. This recognition places her as the most recognized age group triathlete for the year based on performances. This past year, Missy earned four world titles for her division in a six-week span that took to competitions in Australia, South Africa, and Hawaii to name a few locations. Many thanks for attributing part of her development to TNT Swimming. (Read the publication of all triathletes recognized here.) Congratulations – we are very proud.
Eleven TNT swimmers competed at the Juanita Allington Memorial Senior meet over the second weekend of March, and nine of our swimmers scored by placing among the top 20. All points from individual events were led by Visalia’s graduating senior, Janessa Bringe. Janessa competed in seven events, and scored in all seven, garnering over 71 points in total. Her highest finish was 5th in the 1000 freestyle (10:48.05), and she followed that with two additional championship swims that included an 8th place finish in the 500 free (5:13.82), and 10th place finish in the 200 free (2:01.78). Her consolation swims included the 200 fly (2:11.47), 400 IM (4:44.91), 100 fly (1:01.27), and 200 IM (2:16.87) events.
Our next leading scorer was Visalia’s Layla Flores who also had a championship swim, and her highest place was also a 5th place finish, but in the 200 IM (2:12.59). Her consolation swims included the 100 free (53.97), 200 back (2:14.93), 400 IM (4:48.81), and 100 fly (1:00.46) events. Visalia’s graduating senior, Megan Ridenour, shared in our team’s highest finish of 5th by doing so in the 100 breaststroke (1:06.82) event. She also had a bonus swim, and 31st place finish, in the 100 fly. Ava Olson had our only other championship finish, and she did this with a 9th place touch in the 100 breaststroke where she posted her lifetime best of 1:09.68. She also had consolation swims in the 200 breast and 100 fly events. Our team’s next highest finish came in an 11th place in the 200 IM by Selma’s Jackson Huckabay who posted a time of 1:58.99, improving nearly three seconds. He also had a bonus swim in the 100 fly. His training partner, Jonas Huckabay, scored in the 100 breast (1:04.68) by finishing 15th there, and also earned a bonus swim in the 200 IM. Visalia’s Luke Vanwoudenberg, along with his training partner, Ella Bettencourt, both had their highest scoring events at 16th place with Luke doing so in the 200 back (2:06.04), and Ella doing so in two events that included the 50 free (25.73) and then again in the 100 back (1:03.20). Both swimmers posted lifetime best times in these events. Luke also scored in the 100 back (58.19) with a 19th place finish, while Ella had two additional bonus swims that included the 200 free and 100 breaststroke events. Making her first appearance at a senior meet was Visalia’s Emma Bettencourt who had her highest finish as 50th in the 100 fly (1:07.57). Drew Black competed in the 200 breaststroke event.
At age 12, Alexa Wong’s highest finish was 14th, swimming a time of 1:02.55 in the 100 back. She also scored in the 200 back by posting a time of 2:16.00, placing 18th, and setting a new team record by sliding under the 2:16.49 record set by Samantha Goates at the Tulare meet back in 2003. Alexa’s new record is among the top 200 swims in the nation, at 199, for girls at age 12.
Ten TNT swimmers competed at the 2019 Spring Sectional meet held over the last weekend of February in Carlsbad, California, and half of our team earned a second swim at the meet. Our highest place was a championship swim, and 10th place finish in the 100 breaststroke where Preston Niayesh posted a time of 56.74 to reflect our team’s highest place. Following closely was an 11th place finish by Garrison Price who won the consolation heat with a time of 1:50.09 in the 200 fly, and improved nearly two seconds in the event. Two additional swimmers scored in the consolation heat (top 20) by placing 19th, and these included Danielle Albright’s 1:04.86 in the 100 breaststroke, and JK Koster’s 1:53.34 in the 200 fly. Our remaining points came in the bonus heat where Bryce Wong, making his first appearance to the Spring Sectional meet, touched 29th with a time of 1:55.29 in the 200 fly.
Visalia’s Layla Flores had her highest place at 72nd in the 50 free (24.46) while her training partner, Mackenzie Garza, touched 50th in the same event (24.25). Visalia’s Lauren Geiger, now competing for Fresno Pacific, touched 106th in the 100 fly (58.86), and Selma’s Jonas Huckabay had his highest finish at 76th in the 200 free (1:45.10). At age 14 Bryan Wong was our youngest competitor, and he finished 39th at his best in the 400 IM (4:08.97).
Bryan Wong was our only swimmer to set 13-14 year old team records at the meet, and he did this in three events, beginning with his time of 4:41.01 in the 500 free by improving nearly five seconds. This falls well under his 4:45.93 record he set at the Winter Age Group meet this past December, and currently stands as the 42nd fastest nationally for boys at age 14. He then posted a time of 4:08.97 in the 400 IM to claim a new team record that was previously set at 4:13.18 by Nathan Rhea while competing at Winter Sectionals in 2009. This new record currently stands as the 43rd fastest nationally. Finally, by improving nearly a full second in the 200 breaststroke, Bryan posted a time of 2:09.80 and improved his Winter Age Group record of 2:10.70, and becomes the 49th fastest swimmer in the nation for the event, and age.
Thirty three of our 51 swimmers contributed points from individual events that resulted in an overall team finish of 3rd place at the 2019 Short Course Junior Olympic Championships hosted by Clovis over the third weekend of February. Our individual points were led by Selma’s eight year old Logan Huckabay who nearly went undefeated, winning six of his seven individual events, and thereby becoming the highpoint recipient at the meet for his age division and coming home with the largest number of individual wins for our team. His long list of wins in the 8-under division include the 100 free, 50 back, 50 fly, 100 IM, 50 breast and 50 free. The only 2nd place finish occurred when he challenged the 10-under boys, and touched 2nd in the 100 fly. Logan was one of only eight TNT swimmers who came away as event champions in one or more events.
Drew Black was our next highest point-getter, and was an event champion in the 11-12 year old 50 fly event, and was the runner up in three additional events that included the 200 fly, 100 free, and 100 fly events. Next in points, and bringing home the next largest number of wins in comparison to Logan, was Bryan Wong who was undefeated in all events he competed in, winning the 1650 free, 200 breast, 100 breast, 50 free and 1000 freestyle events in the 13-14 division. Our next highest points came from Alexa Wong, who behind Logan and Bryan, had the next highest number of wins at four. Alexa took home the gold in the 400 IM, 200 fly, 100 IM, and 200 IM events for the 11-12 girls division. Garrison Price also had four wins, and in four events, thereby being one of only two TNT swimmers to remain undefeated, winning the 15-18 200 free, 100 breast, 200 back and 100 free events, and, along with Lucas Huckabay, provided the 5th highest contribution to the overall team score. Three additional swimmers returned as event champions, and these include Gage Price who won the 13-14 100 back, Visalia’s Luke Vanwoudenberg who took home gold in the 15-18 year old 200 IM, and Bryce Wong who was the champion in the 15-18 year old 50 freestyle event.
Eight team records were set by two swimmers from one family. Twelve year old Alexa Wong posted a time of 4:40.62 in the 400 IM thereby shaving off over two seconds from her previous record set at the Winter Age Group Championships last December. Her new time stands as the 28th fastest nationally for girls at age 12. Her 2:13.35 in the 200 fly was also an improvement of her own previous record of 2:13.69, also set at the Winter Age Group meet, and this time now ranks 36th nationally. Winning the 200 IM with a time of 2:14.08 resulted in an improvement of another record previously held by her from the same December meet. Her new time currently stands as the 83rd fastest nationally. She went on to improve over seven seconds in the 200 freestyle and became the first 11-12 year old girl in the history of our team to swim under the two-minute mark. Her 1:59.61 is an improvement of Danielle Albright’s previous record of 2:00.81 set at the Age Group Championships in 2015, and Alexa’s new record currently stands as the 119th fastest time in the nation.
Bryan Wong had our only other record-breaking performances, and he reset the bar in five events beginning with his time of 16:26.93 in the 1650 freestyle. His 74 second improvement fell under Nathan Rhea’s 16:41.65 that was set at Sectionals in 2009, and the new record stands as the 55th fastest nationally for boys at age 14. He led off the 800 free relay with a time of 1:47.16, and improved his own previous record of 1:48.21 and posted the 192nd fastest time nationally. His next record resulted from the 59.66 in the 100 breaststroke, which was once again an improvement of his previous record 59.76 set last December, and now ranks 58th nationally for boys the same age. His relay leadoff time of 49.28 in the 100 free also slid under his previous record (49.66), and stands in the 235th spot nationally. Bryan finished off the meet by improving over 40 seconds in the 1000 freestyle, posting a time of 9:40.12, falling once again under Nathan Rhea’s previous team record of 9:55.37 set at Sectional in 2009, and is his highest ranked event at 24th based on the Junior Olympics.
Sixteen TNT swimmers maintained a 100% improvement rate at Junior Olympics despite the inclement weather. Congratulations to: Riley Carpenter, Ivy Carter, Isaak Ensz, Koen Ensz, Layla Flores, Nadia Garabedian, Alyssa Gonzalez, Lucas Huckabay, Lucas Mcmunn, Kamlynn Newlin, Jade Perez, Garrison Price, Blake Sifton, Maryn Vanwoudenberg, Alexa Wong and Bryce Wong.