The Bar Set By The Greatest Age Groupers In Swimming History: No Asterisk Required

Michael Phelps [photo: USA Swimming]

It was April 1 this year when FINA began to recognise World Junior Records, the jest of conditions imposed hardly amusing for those who would prefer to see a sport less burdened with footnotes and asterisks so convoluted as to send a sane man screaming away from the pool

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Your list of the greatest age groupers is incomplete without Sippy Woodhead. If the US hadn’t boycotted 1980, she likely would have triumphed in several events there as a 16 year old. She won three gold and two silver at World Champs in 1978 as a 14 year old. She was never the same after the boycott.

Craig Lord

Dave: I don’t list them all – I mention but a few… that wasn’t the point of my exercise – but good to remind folk of leading youth swimmers through the ages… and the drop of boycott … thanks … there are very many names not mentioned here, of course … going way back beyond our time, too – the ‘complete’ list would be far too long 🙂


My favoutive US NAG record is this one:

13-14 yr Boys
1500m FR 15:31.03 – Jesse Vassallo, 1976*

It is almost inconceivable.

Jesse, you must have been a rock hard 14 yr old, and you still haven’t been topped 38 yrs later!

Clive Rushton

I think you said it all in the first paragraph:

“… a weighty, time-consuming [exercise] that would require the international federation to call in the help of those who kept the record.”

Obviously in the ‘too hard’ basket.

Clive Rushton

Second paragraph!!

Jorge Abril

Billabong, and Bobby Hackett 15-16yr 1500: 15:03.91!! (76)

Kim Simonsen


Craig Lord

And lots of others, Kim


who is the all time best world Rankings
i can see

Craig Lord

We publish top 10s from time to time to subscribers, Umberto, and produce an annual rankings booklet with the all-time top 10 in textile and all suits. Deep all-time rankings are part of our historic archive, a private resource.


2.10 in the 200 breast from Gyurta in Athens when he was 15 is something otherworldly indeed. Will stand for a couple of decades to come. In a worn Speedo he used to practice in because his coach told him those suits were useless haha.

Felix Sanchez

But surely the actual 200breast WR was swum by a junior.

Craig Lord

doesn’t count for WJR if before 2013, felix, regardless of whether the actual WR is held by a swimmer who was a junior at the time… Ledecky 2012 800 doesn’t count for the thread of history, for example

Felix Sanchez

I know Craig, that comment was just in response to the one immediately above. Unless ITR meant a record for a 15 year old rather than an actual junior record.

Craig Lord

🙂 Felix… it’s an article that gets updated after first posting in 2013, so I don’ follow the thread of comments… I just saw your latest one in the queue …

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