Over 900 swimmers representing about 35 teams competed at the Winter Age Group Championships on Coronado Island in San Diego over the third weekend of December, and our group of 23 TNT swimmers finished among the top-9 scoring teams at the meet. A total of 652 points from individual events were generated by fifteen of our swimmers, led by Drew Black who had the busiest schedule by earning a second swim in the maximum number of events that a swimmer may enter, and generating 140 points at the meet. Although our team didn’t field a single individual event champion, Drew managed to earn three runner-up positions, and was our only swimmer with a 2nd place in any individual event finishing second in the 10-under 100 free (1:00.96), 50 fly (30.77), and 50 free (28.19). Our next highest point getter was Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy, and she accumulated 98 points by earning a second swim in six of her nine events, and scoring in all nine. Her highest finish was 4th in the 10-under 50 freestyle where she posted a time of 29.14 while competing in her first Winter Age Group Championship meet. Besides Drew Black, only two other swimmers came away with a finish as high as 3rd place, and Ava Olson was one of them. At 79 points, Ava also generated the third highest points from individual events, and placed 3rd in the 12-under 200 fly with a time of 2:22.55.
Our remaining finalists include Hanford’s Addison Mccullough at 67 points by scoring in all nine events, her highest place being 7th in the 10-under 50 breast where she posted a time of 40.29 in the preliminary heats. Next was Selma’s Sienna Abernathy, who was the other 3rd place finisher, and doing so in the 10-under 100 free with a time of 1:04.08, and accumulating 64 points across the three days. Bryan Wong competed at the bottom of the 13-14 age division, and scored 59 points with his highest place being 4th in both the 400 IM (4:23.94), and 200 breast (2:16.34) events. Peyton Costa scored in seven of his nine events, with his highest finish being 4th in the 100 free (51.25). Bryce Wong finished 7th in the 15-18 200 fly with a time of 2:02.83, and scored 25 points total, while younger sister, Alexa Wong accumulated 18 points while competing at the bottom of the 11-12 girls division, and having her highest finish as 11th in the 100 fly with a time of 1:06.91. Visalia’s Janessa Bringe brought in 17 points and scored in 9th place as her highest finish in the 13-over 1650 freestyle with a lifetime best of 18:16.49, while Hanford’s Thomas Matthews raked in 12 points for the 11-12 boys division, placing 7th in the 12-under 200 fly, swimming the short course event for the first time, and posting a 2:48.26 as his time. Selma’s Trent Reiger scored in the 11-12 boys 50 fly, earning his final swim, and 10th place finish, while competing at his first Winter Age Group Championships, and posting a time of 30.10. Seventeen year old Brett Wong also placed 10th in 15-18 200 fly with his lifetime best of 2:04.86, while a Visalia duo of Ciara Clarke, and Ella Bettencourt each scored in multiple events, Ciara having her highest finish as 13th in the 11-12 girls 50 fly (29.85), while Ella finished 15th as her highest place in both the 11-12 girls 50 breast (35.60), and 100 breast (1:18.09).
Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt was also one of only three swimmers who improved 100% of their times while competing at the meet. She improved all six events she entered, with the largest improvement exceeding three seconds in the 100 breaststroke. Another swimmer with a 100% improvement rate was Selma’s Daniel Haley who entered seven events, and improved all seven, and dropping over twelve seconds in the 1000 freestyle. Hanford’s Isabella Klawitter was our final swimmer who maintained 100% improvement, and she did this by entering and improving the 50, 100, 200 and 500 freestyle events. Her largest drop was nearly thirty-one seconds in the 500 freestyle. Fourteen additional swimmers improved 50% or more of their times, and these included: Peyton Costa (89%), Ava Olson (89%), Ciara Clarke (86%), Alexa Wong (83%), Dylan Hunt (80%), Drew Black (78%), Michelle Murphy (78%), Madalynn Lady (75%), Brett Wong (67%), Bryan Wong (60%), Janessa Bringe (50%), Ashton King (50%), Thomas Matthews (50%), and Bryce Wong (50%).
Congratulations for qualifying, and competing at their first Winter Age Group Championships, goes to ten-year old Maguire Barteau whose highest finish was 21st in the 50 backstroke, and twelve year old Amy Murphy whose highest finish was 31st in the 12-under 200 breaststroke. Congratulations also go to Katherine Sullivan whose highest place was 20th in the 15-18 girls 200 butterfly event.