Aaron Shackell, Madi Mintenko Shine in 200 Freestyle at Junior Nationals
The fourth evening of finals at U.S. Junior Nationals in Irvine, Calif., featured a showdown in the boys’ 200 freestyle between a pair of swimmers who will race plenty over the next four years on opposite sides of the Cal-Stanford rivalry. Carmel’s Aaron Shackell, fresh off an impressive win in the 400 free Wednesday, was up against Jersey Wahoos’ Henry McFadden, who won a silver medal at last week’s World Championships as a prelims swimmer on the U.S. men’s 800 free relay.
In this race, Shackell had the early lead before McFadden took over with a 27.29 third 50, giving him a three-tenths edge on Shackell entering the home stretch. But Shackell finished in 26.82 to reassert control and finish in 1:47.46, a tenth ahead of McFadden’s 1:47.56. Both swimmers were just off their best times, with McFadden swimming a 1:46.94 at Nationals and Shackell going 1:47.29 previously. Meanwhile, the race for third went to Mason Manta Rays’ Jason Zhao, who swam a time of 1:49.26 as the only other swimmer to break 1:50.
Madi Mintenko swam a remarkable final length to secure victory in the girls’ 200 free. Mintenko, the 15-year-old daughter of two-time U.S. Olympian and current U.S. National Team Managing Director Lindsay Mintenko, trailed Crow Canyon’s Bailey Hartman through the first half of the race before taking a slight lead on the third 50. Mintenko then finished in 29.65 (a split only two swimmers matched in the final at U.S. Nationals in June) as she clocked a time of 1:58.07.
Second place went to Hartman in 1:59.23, her third runnerup result in two days after taking second in the 400 freestyle and 100 butterfly Wednesday, and Long Island’s Cavan Gormsen placed third (2:00.31).
Mintenko broke the meet record of 1:58.26 set by Lia Neal 12 years ago, one year before Neal qualified for her first Olympic team. Mintenko’s time would have made the final in Indianapolis, and it was her best time by more than one second. The Pikes Peak swimmer will not need to drop much time from that to put herself in contention for a final at next year’s U.S. Olympic Trials.
A trio of National Age Group records went down during Thursday’s session. Luka Mijatovic lowered his third 13-14 National Age Group record in the 200 free while the Mission Viejo girls and Lakeside Aquatic Club boys each swam marks in the 400 free relay. Maximus Williamson swam a sub-49 leadoff mark on Lakeside’s relay while Carmel’s Alex Shackell also posted an elite swim leading off her team’s second-place squad.
In the girls’ 100 backstroke, Aquajets’ Erin Kern held the early lead by three tenths, but Mission Viejo’s Teagan O’Dell blasted ahead coming home, winning the race in 1:00.50. O’Dell broke 1:00 for the first time in this event in her B-final win at Nationals, touching in 59.73. Long Island’s Tess Howley, the winner of both butterfly events in Irvine, touched second in 1:00.98, with Kern placing third in 1:01.17.
SwimMAC’s Ben Delmar and Elite Coronado’s Nick Mahabir went head-to-head over the entire distance of the boys’ 200 breaststroke, with Mahabir holding a slight lead through the first 150 meters, although Mahabir had cut it to seven hundredths with one length remaining. But then, Texas Ford’s Joshua Chen blasted off coming home, moving from a half-second down into the lead by the finish. Chen touched in 2:12.20, 12-hundredths ahead of a tie for second behind Delmar and Mahabir, who both clocked 2:12.32.
Firestone Akron’s Jonny Marshall finished nine tenths clear of the field in the boys’ 100 back while King Aquatic Club’s Drew Huston held off SwimMAC’s Caleb Maldari for second, 55.48 to 55.50. Maldari previously won the 200 back Wednesday evening. In the girls’ 200 breast, Mason Manta Rays’ Addie Robillard took over on the second half and took the win in 2:27.60, leaving Bellevue’s Piper Enge in second place with her 2:28.13. Lakeside’s Avery Collins was third in 2:29.44.