By Amy Padilla//Contributor | Friday, August 9, 2019
Anticipation and excitement filled the Stanford Avery Aquatic Center on day three of the Speedo Junior National Championships as the nation's top up and coming swimmers hit the water.
Three was the magic number tonight during the women’s 400 free, with Jillian Cox from Austin Trinity Aquatic Club, Miranda Heckman from Pleasanton Seahawks, and Ellie Marquardt from Aquatic Team of Mecklenburg battling for the title during the last 50.
Heckman, the 100 freestyle champion from Wednesday night, was in the lead after first 100 meters but Cox pulled ahead after the 200. After the two swimmers came off their last turn, Mecklenburg surged forward to catch up to them. The three athletes flew into the wall with Cox touching first at 4:13.24, the 11th fastest time in history for the 13-14 age group. Miranda Heckman came in second with a 4:13.27 and Mecklenburg finished third with a time of 4:13.49.
The men’s 400 free was also noteworthy. In the B final, Florida native Brendon Driscoll pushed ahead after the 300. Yet, Colby Mefford from Sierra Marlins Swim Team took over on the last 50, finishing first in 3:56.22, a full second under the Olympic Trials cut. Driscoll touched second in 3:57.74.
The men’s 400 free championship final featured an intense duel between Jack Walker from SwimMAC Carolina and Aquabears swimmer, 1500 free champion, James Plage. Walker pushed out in front, followed closely by Plage. The fierce competitiveness between the two swimmers was suspenseful, as both battled to be first to the wall.
Walker triumphed over Plage by just five hundredths of a second at 3:53.02. Plage touched second in a time of 3:53.07 and Cole Kuster from Purple Valley Aquatics finished third in 3:55.94. Afterwards, Walker held up the peace sign and pumped his fist in the air after realizing he’d won. The top four finishers from this event made the Olympic Trials cut.
In the women’s 100 fly, Lucy Bell from Fort Collins Area Swim Team secured the title with a blazing time of 59.05. Bell led off the blocks but was pursued closely by Dynamo Swim Club’s Tristen Ulett and Rachel Klinker from the Lexington Dolphins. Ulett touched the wall second in 1:00.03 and Klinker grabbed third at 1:00.32.
Ethan Hu from Peak Swimming claimed the men’s 100 fly title in 53.71, earning an Olympic Trials cut in the process. Matthew Jensen from Upper Dublin Aquatic Club went out in 25.12 before Hu found his speed coming home for the win. Aiden Hayes from Sooner Swim Club took second in 53.92, while Jenson touched third in 54.11.
Day three’s final event was the men’s 4x200 free, which was packed full of passionate swims. Heat 2 proved fastest on the night. SwimMAC Carolina and Dynamo, battled for the lead throughout. SwimMAC pulled away on the last leg, earning the title with Jack Walker, Hugh Svendsen, Tim Connery and Baylor Nelson in 7:27.66. Dynamo Swim Club touched second in 7:31.11, and Irvine Novaquatics claimed third in 7:34.53.
The Speedo Junior National Championships continue through Saturday with daily prelims at 9 a.m. and finals at 5 p.m. PT. Visit usaswimming.org for live coverage, race footage, results, and recaps.