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).
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.
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.
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.
Tule Nation Tritons was a topic of discussion around the pool deck among numerous teams during the early days of the Winter Age Group Championships when TNT was in 4th place among 38 teams competing at the meet. Once all was said and done, at 1,018 points, TNT finished a respectable 6th among the field, with 19 of our 28 swimmers scoring in individual events, two of whom scored in triple digits.
With 128 points, fourteen year old Bryan Wong was the lead scorer, winning four of his six events at the meet, three of which resulted in team records. His first win was in the 200 IM, swimming under the 2-minute mark for the first time with a 1:58.54 and being among 64 fourteen year old boys in the nation to do so. Bryan’s previous record was 2:02.10 set at the Hanford meet in September. Following the short IM was the win in the 400 IM where he once again swam uncontested, with a 4:13.69 finishing four seconds ahead of the next swimmer. His next win was nearly a 2-second drop over his previous record of 2:12.50 from the Kevin Perry meet in the 200 IM, where his 2:10.70 now ranks 43rd nationally. His final win was in the 500 freestyle, where his 4:45.93 missed the meet record by less than two seconds, but was an improvement of his own team record of 4:46.81 from Kevin Perry, and now stands as the 50th fastest nationally for boys at age 14. Bryan set team records in three additional events, and these included the 100 breaststroke, where his 59.76 was enough for a 2nd place finish, and was an improvement of his Kevin Perry time of 1:01.10, and currently ranks 32nd nationally. His 1:48.21 in the 200 freestyle tops his Merced swim of 1:49.68 in October, and is the 153rd fastest nationally. Finally, his 49.66 in the 100 free is a new team record for him, falling under Kyle Grissom’s 50.40 set at the Terrapin meet in the winter of 2012, standing as the 179th fastest nationally.
Drew Black was the only other triple-digit point getter at 119 points from individual events, with her highest place being a 2nd place finish in the 11-12 girls 100 butterfly. While still on the bottom of the age group, her 1:00.13 at finals went under Mallory Korenwinder’s previous team record of 1:02.68 set at Far Westerns in 2011, and with a time that currently stands as the 2nd fastest nationally for girls at age 11 (the top time being posted from the same meet). Her next highest finish was 3rd, and this was in the 50 butterfly, where she posted a time of 27.34, again falling under Mallory’s previous team record of 27.67 set at the same Far Western meet. Drew’s time is currently the 7th fastest posted nationally.
Our third highest point getter was 12-year old Alexa Wong. With 94 points, she finished 2nd in three events that included the 200 IM, 200 fly, and 400 IM, all three which resulted in team records. Her 2:14.61 in the 200 IM went under Danielle Albright’s 2:15.50 set at Far Westerns in 2015, and stands as the 48th fastest nationally for girls at age 12. Her 2nd place finish in the 200 fly resulted from a 2:13.69, and is an improvement of Drew Black’s previous team record of 2:18.63 set at the Tulare meet earlier in the same month. The new record stands as the 19th fastest time nationally for a 12-year old girl. Finally, her 4:42.88 stands as the 16th fastest time in the nation, and slides under Danielle Albright’s previous team record of 4:43.59 set at Far Westerns in 2015.
Bryce Wong was our only other event champion, winning the 200 fly after posting a lifetime best of 1:55.55 in the preliminary heats. He earned three additional championship swims that included the 100 breast (1:01.76), 100 fly (52.58), and 200 IM (2:01.68) events, and also swam a final in the 200 breast. Visalia’s Ella Bettencourt competed on the bottom of the 13-14 age division, yet earned a championship swim in the 50 free by posting a time of 25.72 in the preliminary heats. She also earned second swims in the 200 free, 100 back, and 100 free events. Visalia’s Janessa Bringe had a championship swim by finishing 8th with a lifetime best of 2:14.33 in the 200 fly. She also had second swims in the 100 fly, 200 IM, 400 IM, and 500 freestyle events. Selma’s William Butts had 4 swims in the championship finals, his highest place being three 4th place finishes that included the 50 fly (27.88), 50 back (29.93), and 100 fly (1:07.57). Two other championship swims of his included a 5th place in the 50 breast (32.89), and 8th place in the 100 free (59.90). He also earned seconds swim in the 100 breast, 100 back, and 100 fly events. Visalia’s Layla Flores is another individual competing on the bottom of the age division, yet who earned a championship seeding in finals. She posted a time of 2:10.23 in the 15-18 division of the 200 IM to finish 3rd in the event. She also earned second swims in the 100 breast, 50 free, 100 back and 100 free events. Porterville’s 8-year old Regan Hildreth earned her championship swim with an 8th place finish in the 10-under (yea, she’s 8 in the 10-under division) 50 breaststroke after swimming a time of 40.54 in the preliminary heats. She also earned a second swim in the 100 breast. Another 8-year old phenom who earned a championship final in the 10-under division was Selma’s Logan Huckabay who touched 5th in the 10-under 50 fly with a time of 34.52. He also earned second swims in the 100 free, 100 IM, and 50 free events. His brother, Lucas Huckabay, while competing on the bottom of the 11-12 age division, earned a championship swim in the 200 free after posting a time of 2:09.31 in the preliminary heats. He also earned a final swim in the 50 breast, 100 free, 50 fly, 100 breast and 50 free events. Ava Olson is another of our swimmers competing on the bottom of the age bracket, and she still earned a top-8 finish in two events that included a 6th place finish in the 200 fly after posting a lifetime best of 2:18.64 in the preliminary heats, and then finished 8th in the 100 breast after posting another lifetime best of 1:10.06 in prelims. Sydnee Wilson was another double championship finalist. Her top finish was a 4th place in the 50 breaststroke, improving her time by over a second to a 33.27, and then again improving by over a second in the 50 free to a 26.44 to touch 6th there. Sydnee also earned second swim in the 100 free and 100 breaststroke.
Six additional swimmers earned a final (top-16), scoring, swim, and these include Selma’s Jackson Huckabay who earned consolation swims in the 200 IM and 400 IM, along with his brother, Jonas Huckabay, who earned consolation swims in the 100 breast, 200 free and 100 free events. Hanford’s Thomas Matthews finished in the consolation finals in six events that included the 200 back, 50 fly, 200 fly, 400 IM, 100 back, and 100 fly, while 11-year old Addison Mccullough earned top16 finishes in the 12-under 200 fly and 200 breaststroke events. Also competing at the bottom of the 11-12 division, and scoring, was Lemoore’s Michelle Murphy who finished top-16 in the 200 back and 500 free events. Finally, Gage Price had 4 top-16 performances that included the 100 fly, 100 back, 500 free and 200 back.
Thirteen year old Laney Cox had her highest finish at 21st in the 13-14 200 breaststroke, while 13-year old Drew Johnston touched 18th in the 13-14 100 backstroke. Ashton King came back from college to finish 29th in the 200 back, while Lemoore’s Madalynn Lady finished 23rd as her highest finish in the 200 breast. Kristine Marinos of Visalia had her highest place as 22nd in the 100 back, and Selma’s Mark Marroquin touched 41st as his highest finish, and in the 100 fly. Lemoore’s Amy Murphy had her best place at 35th while on the bottom of the age group, and Visalia’s Vincent Sanchez, also on the bottom of the age group, finished 39th as his highest place. Visalia’s Luke Vanwoudenberg touched 21st in the 200 back as his highest finish.
While our age group swimmers competed at the San Diego-Imperial’s Winter Age Group Championships in Chula Vista, Danielle Albright was our only swimmer to compete at the senior-level Sectional Championships hosted by Southern California Swimming, and held at Crafton Hills College in Yucaipa. Danielle competed in four events, and scored in three of those. Her highest finish was a 3rd place in the 100 yard breaststroke where she posted a time of 1:04.49 in the event. She later backed up the championship performance with a 4th place finish in the 200 breaststroke, swimming a time of 2:22.76, improving nearly three full seconds from her preliminary swim. Her other final was the bonus time of 4:44.53 in the 400 IM to touch 20th, moving up from 27th, and improving nearly six seconds from her prelim swim there.
Two of our three Winter Junior National qualifiers are returning to the meet over the first weekend of December, after making their first appearance last winter. Both JD Koster and Preston Niayesh are returning veterans to the meet, and Preston Niayesh came away with a 100% improvement rate, and earned a final swim in the consolation heat of the 100 breaststroke, touching 14th in the event after posting a lifetime best of 55.78 in the preliminary heats. His time is an improvement over his Kevin Perry record set the previous month as 56.68, and the time currently stands as the 38th fastest nationally for 18-year old male swimmers. Preston also improved his team record in the 200 breaststroke, posting the 63rd nationally ranked time of 2:03.23 for 18-year olds, and once again going under his Kevin Perry record of 2:05.40.
Our next highest finisher was JD Koster, who touched 42nd in the 200 fly, posting his lifetime best of 1:50.78 in the event. JD is our only swimmer who qualified in three events for the meet, swimming also the 200 IM (1:56.05), and 100 fly (50.57) events. Garrison Price made his first appearance at a USA Swimming Junior National meet, and his highest finish was 91st in the 200 fly (1:54.15). He also competed in the 100 fly (50.77).
Preston Niayesh made his first appearance at a National meet by traveling to Greensboro, North Carolina to compete at the 2018 Winter National Championships in both the 100 and 200 meter breaststroke events over the last weekend of November. The 2018 Winter Nationals is the first opportunity for swimmers across the nation to achieve an Olympic Trial time standard since the posting of the new cuts just months prior. This is the primary reason the meet is conducted long course, opposed to the traditional short course arrangement. Preston finished 35th in the 200 meter breaststroke, swimming a time of 2:25.99, and finished 46th in the 100 breaststroke after swimming a time of 1:06.59 there.