arena Swim of the Week: 15-Year-Old Emir Batur Albayrak Drops 15:06 1500 Free

Swim of the Week is brought to you by arena, a SwimSwam partner.

Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.

At the Turkish Long Course Winter Championships in late December, Emir Batur Albayrak swam what appears to be the fastest 1500 freestyle from a 15-year-old male swimmer in history.

Albayrak put up a scintillating long course time of 15:06.24 at the competition, annihilating the previous fastest time on record from a 15 and under swimmer, which also happened to belong to a Turkish native, Kuzey Tuncelli, who clocked 15:14.04 in July.

Tuncelli’s swim came while he was still 14, one month prior to his 15th birthday, at the Turkish Age Group Champs the week after the European Junior Championships, where both Albayrak and Tuncelli were competing.

At Euro Juniors, held in Otopeni, Romania, Albayrak won bronze in the boys’ 1500 free in a time of 15:15.24, dropping three seconds from his best time, while Tuncelli logged a 15:25.02 PB in the prelims before placing eighth in the final in 15:29.12. Tuncelli then turned around eight days later to clock the aforementioned 15:14.04.

But Albayrak blew away that mark at the Winter Champs in Istanbul, with his 15:06.24 standing up as the fastest from a 15-year-old (or younger) by nearly eight seconds.

For context, the Australian record for 15-year-olds is 15:14.73, set by Mack Horton in 2012, and the fastest time recorded by a U.S. swimmer at the age of 15 is listed as the 15:31.20 produced by Long Island Aquatic Club’s Sean Green at the 2022 Junior National Championships (though USA Swimming’s database could be missing times).

In the U.S. 15-16 age group, Albayrak would rank fourth behind Bobby Hackett (15:03.91), Larsen Jensen (15:04.83) and Bobby Finke (15:05.29), all of whom swam those times within a few months of their 17th birthdays (and have won Olympic medals in the event).

Albayrak took his swim out at a blistering pace, sub-1:01 on every 100 through the first 600, and didn’t really fade down the stretch before managing to muster up a 57.6 closing split.

Tuncelli didn’t have the same early speed as Albayrak, and also couldn’t up the pace to the same level at the end of the race.

Split Comparison

Tuncelli, July 2022
Albayrak, Dec. 2022


2:00.38 (1:01.57)
1:57.56 (1:00.34)

3:01.59 (1:01.21)
2:57.96 (1:00.40)

4:02.98 (1:01.39)
3:58.62 (1:00.66)

5:04.09 (1:01.11)
4:59.06 (1:00.44)

6:05.18 (1:01.09)
5:59.86 (1:00.80)

7:05.85 (1:00.67)
7:01.09 (1:01.23)

8:06.50 (1:00.65)
8:02.04 (1:00.95)

9:07.46 (1:00.96)
9:02.92 (1:00.88)

10:08.57 (1:01.11)
10:03.80 (1:00.88)

11:09.86 (1:01.29)
11:05.03 (1:01.23)

12:11.18 (1:01.32)
12:06.13 (1:01.10)

13:12.63 (1:01.45)
13:07.52 (1:01.39)

14:13.91 (1:01.28)
14:08.57 (1:01.05)

15:14.04 (1:00.13)
15:06.24 (57.67)

Albayrak went on to win the 800 free in a time of 7:59.34—just over three seconds quicker than he was on the way out in the mile—to inch under his previous Turkish Age Record of 7:59.57 set in November.

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