SwimmingClaire Weinstein Breaks Through, Youngest at Worlds Since 2007

Claire Weinstein Breaks Through, Youngest at Worlds Since 2007


Claire Weinstein Breaks Through, Becomes Youngest U.S. Swimmer on Worlds Team Since 2007 (VIDEO)

In one length of freestyle, Claire Weinstein stamped her arrival on the national level. She was racing in the final of the women’s 200 freestyle at the U.S. International Team Trials following a brilliant prelims swim where she dropped eight tenths from her lifetime best. That earned her the lane next to superstar Katie Ledecky in the final.

And in that final, Weinstein split 29.34 on the final length to move from fifth place to second, passing a trio of Olympians, Alex Walsh, Leah Smith and Sandpipers of Nevada teammate Bella Sims. Weinstein finished in 1:57.08, another time drop of more than a half-second. The swim was good enough for second place, good enough to secure the honor of representing the U.S. in the event at this summer’s World Championships.

All from a swimmer who just turned 15 years old in March.

“It meant a lot. It was nice. It was a fun race, and it was great to drop time,” Weinstein said. “I kind of came into the meet thinking it would be a possibility that I would make the relay. In prelims, I was just trying to make the final. In finals, I was just trying to get top-six, so it was cool to get top-two.”

Last year at Olympic Trials, Weinstein was the youngest swimmer in the meet, the only athlete born in 2007 or later. She finished 20th in the 400 free, 28th in the 200 free and 34th in the 800 free, and shortly after that, Weinstein moved across the country from New York to Las Vegas to begin training with the Sandpipers of Nevada and coach Ron Aitken, who had just put three swimmers, Sims, Erica Sullivan and Katie Grimes, on the Olympic team.

In Vegas, Weinstein has thrived while training alongside swimmers like Sims and Grimes. “It’s really fun because everybody in our group is very motivated, so we just motivate each other. It’s definitely a great team environment,” she said.

At Winter Junior Nationals in Austin, Texas, she placed second (behind Grimes) in the 1650-yard free, third (behind Sims and Grimes) in the 500 free and fourth in the 200 free. Now, she has leveled-up again by a significant margin, jumping to an individual spot at the World Championships.

“I came into the meet thinking it would be a possibility that I would make the relay. In prelims, I was just trying to make the final. In finals, I was just trying to get top-six, so it was cool to get top-two,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein admitted that she struggles sometimes with handling nerves, and this race brought out some jitters as she prepared to race an experienced field led by Ledecky. “The ready room was a little intimidating,” Weinstein said.

Weinstein joins an impressive group of 15-year-old swimmers that have qualified for senior-level international teams, including Ledecky, Grimes, Missy Franklin and Elizabeth Beisel over the past few Olympics, but Weinstein will become the youngest American to compete at the Olympics or World Championships since a 14-year-old Beisel raced at the 2007 World Championships, a meet held when Weinstein was less than one month old.

Already, Weinstein is the third-fastest American woman ever in the 15-16 age group behind the esteemed duo of Franklin and Ledecky, and that’s with 22 months still to go in that age group. And after she placed fifth in the 800 free on Tuesday, Weinstein could have more big performances to come in the 400 free and 1500 free later in the meet.

And in two months, she will compete for the U.S. in the 200 free and 800 free relay at the World Championships in Budapest. She was already ticketed as a name to watch at the start of this 2024 Olympic cycle, but Weinstein is already flourishing, much sooner than expected.

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