15-Year-Old Katie Grimes Completes Sandpipers Sweep of Junior National 7.5k

2022 US Open Water Junior National Championships

It was cloudy and humid at Fort Myers Beach Sunday morning when 15-year-old Tokyo Olympian and 10k National champion Katie Grimes won the girls’ Junior National 7.5k race. This completed a Sandpipers sweep of the event as her teammate Ilya Kharun won the boys’ Junior National 7.5k.

2022 U.S. Junior National 7.5k – Top 3 Finishers

Katie Grimes (SAND)
Claire Stuhlmacher (UN-Fsla)
Mary McKenna (Long Island Express)

The top 8 finishers (unofficially, per USA Swimming’s live stream) are:

Katie Grimes (SAND)
Claire Stuhlmacher (UN-Fsla)
Mary McKenna Long Island Express)
Sofia Giordano (Long Island Aquatic) 
Elsa Fullerton (Loveland)
Kaimakana Flanagan (Kamehameha) 16
Courtney Watts (Machine)
Cadence Fort (Gulf Coast)

Grimes established a 6-body-length lead early on in the race, her blue and yellow Sandpipers cap visible far ahead of the field. The packs behind her also set a fast pace, quickly creating large separations between the groups. 14-year-old Claire Stuhlmacher, 15-year-old Cadence Fort of Gulf Coast, and 15-year-old Courtney Watts of Machine Aquatics were up in that first pack trailing Grimes for most of the race. 

Heading into lap four, Grimes’ lead swelled to about 42 seconds as she continued to swim in a pack of her own. This lead was insurmountable and she finished in first place. The swimmers behind her made big moves on the final two laps where four athletes overtook Fort and Watts – Long Island Express’s Mary McKenna, Long Island Aquatic’s Sofia Giordano, Loveland’s Elsa Fullerton, and Kamehameha’s Kaimakana Flanagan. All four swimmers are 15 years old except Flanagan who is 16.

This meet serves as a selection process for the 2022 U.S. Open Water National Junior Team and the 2022 FINA World Junior Open Water Championships Team. First place in the Junior National 7.5k earns a spot on the National Junior team while the top two male and female finishers in the 16-17 age group qualify for the World Junior team roster, according to USA Swimming.

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