Gators Excel at 2024 YMCA Short Course National Championships

Adam SakryGators Swim Team

five swimmers posing at a swim meet

Competing at the National Championships is a big deal in any sport. It’s quite an honor, for it represents the ultimate achievement for that sport. For example, just check out what has been going on recently in basketball. Well, it’s no different in swimming, especially at the YMCA level. 1,177 swimmers, representing 171 different YMCAs from around the country, competed this past week in the 2024 YMCA Short Course National Championship (Y-Nats). The 5-day meet was held at the Greensboro Aquatic Complex in North Carolina.

Five St. Cloud Area YMCA Gator swimmers qualified for this year’s Championships: Charlie Bobick, Hunter Jokinen, Evan Scapanski, Izzy Westling and Megan Willenbring. All five attended. And, we’re happy to say that all five Gator swimmers swimmers lived-up to that Championship-standard level of performance. KUDOS!

Charlie Bobick qualified and competed in three National Championship 15 & Under D Finals, posting three new amazing swims in the process. He opened with the 200Y Free on Thursday, placing 31st overall in 1:44.42. On Friday, Charlie placed 26th overall in the 200Y IM (1:55.46). And on Saturday, he blistered the 100Y Breaststroke in: 58.65, placing 29th overall. All three times are not only brand new lifetime best times, but all are AAA times, and the Breaststroke time actually netted 803 Hytek points, our top-scoring Gator swim of the Season.

Izzy Westling produced a similar result. Izzy qualified and competed in two National Championship 15 & Under D Finals in both of the Freestyle sprint events. In the Friday night 50Y Free D Final, she placed 27th overall in :23.93. And in Saturday’s 100Y Free D Final, Izzy placed 26th overall in :52.07. Izzy also took advantage of the Time Trials that were offered at the meet. She opened by dropping a full second off her 100Y Fly (:58.66) time. Next, she rocked her 200Y IM in 2:09.11. Both are not only lifetime best times, but both are also AAA times, and three of her swims at the meet scored in the 700 Hytek points range.

For their efforts, Both Charlie and Izzy were awarded our Gator Co-Swimmers of the Meet honors.

And speaking of fast swims, it must be time to talk about Hunter Jokinen. Hunter took even greater advantage of the Time Trials opportunities offered at Y-Nats to post two new lifetime best times. In the 100Y Free, Hunter trimmed 12 more hundredths off his time, touching the pad in :49.07. But it was in the 100Y Backstroke, an event of recent focus for Hunter, in which he did his best work. How about dropping almost 2 seconds of your lifetime best (:55.14)? Now, you don’t see that every day – not at this level. And with that particular swim, Hunter claimed our Gator Fast Swim of the Meet.

Megan Willenbring has had a very interesting Championship Season, to say the least. You’ve heard the expression: “A Man for All Seasons”? Well, how about “A Swimmer for All Strokes”? Early in our Championship Season, Megan decided to excel in her 100Y Breaststroke and 1,000Y Freestyle events. She posted fast times in both and actually won Championship events in both as well. So, what was left to do at the very last of the Championship meets? What hadn’t she done yet? Yup, you guessed it: Butterfly and Backstroke. In Time Trials, Megan torched her 100Y Back in (1:00.56) and blistered her 100Y Fly in (:59.28). Both represent brand new lifetime best times. For her efforts, Megan was awarded our Gator Most Improved Swimmer of the Meet.

Evan Scapanski was our other Gator Y-Nats competitor. Even while balancing another school sport, Evan took home our Gator Tail Solid Swim of the Meet with his gritty Time Trial effort in the 100Y Free (:54.12).

Go Gators!