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Girls' Swimming Athlete of the Year
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Girls' Swimming Athlete of the Year

 

2000

Sara McLarty
Deland High School, Deland, Florida

McLarty was the Florida Class 3A state champion in the 200-meter individual medley and finished second in the 500-meter freestyle last fall. A versatile athlete, she also qualified for the state championships every year in cross country and track in addition to swimming, earning All-State honors in cross country. A Junior National champion, McLarty has qualified for the Junior Nationals in five events and the Senior Nationals in three events. She also is a four-time National Iron Kids Triathlon champion. She was invited to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in August, and will try to earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic Team. "Athletes like Sara McLarty are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "She has worked extremely hard to develop her skills and has become one of the best swimmers not only in the state of Florida, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring her."  Also an outstanding student, McLarty ranks in the top 5 per cent of her class with a 4.06 grade-point average, and is a member of the National Honor Society. She has accepted a scholarship to the University of Florida, selecting the Gators over Kentucky, Auburn, Nebraska, and North Carolina.

 

2001

Kaitlin Sandeno
El Toro High School, Lake Forest, California

"Athletes like Kaitlin Sandeno are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "She has worked extremely hard to develop her skills and has become one of the best swimmers not only in the state of California, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring him." Sandeno is a seasoned national and international veteran, earning an Olympic bronze medal last summer in the 400-meter freestyle. She also competed in the Olympic Games in the 400-meter individual medley, finishing fourth, and in the 200-meter butterfly, finishing sixth. At the USA Swimming Championships, she won the 200 butterfly and the 400 individual medley, and finished second in the 400 freestyle. She was selected as the National Athlete of the Year by SchoolSports.com.

 

2002

Mary Descenza
Rosary High School, Aurora, Illinois

"Athletes like Mary Descenza are among the success stories produced in high school athletics today," NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro said. "She has worked extremely hard to develop her skills and has become one of the best swimmers not only in the state of Illinois, but the entire nation, and we are proud to be honoring her." Descenza set a national high school record (53.11) earlier this year in her specialty, the 100-meter butterfly, and is ranked No. 6 nationally in that event. She won her third state title this year to go along with a pair of state championships in the 200-meter freestyle. Also an established national and international veteran, Descenza finished fourth in the 100-meter butterfly in the FINA World Long Course Championships and second-, third-, and fourth-place finishes in the FINA World Short Course Championships this year. She also competed in the 2000 Olympic Trials as a 15-year-old - the youngest competitor to qualify for the finals by six years - and finished sixth. She already has qualified for the 2004 Olympic Trials, and earned a scholarship to the University of Georgia.

 

2003

Kara Lynn Joyce
Pioneer High School, Ann Arbor, Michigan

"Kara Lynn Joyce has put together the type of high school career that makes it clear that she has been and will continue to be a force on the women's swimming scene," said NHSCA executive director Bob Ferraro. "The NHSCA is proud to name Kara Lynn Joyce its National High School Senior Girls Golf Athlete of the Year." Joyce capped a remarkable prep career by setting national records and winning Michigan state championships in both the 50-yard and 100-yard freestyle races. She set national standards by swimming 22.04 for the 50-yard sprint and 48.59 in the 100-yard event. A member of the 2002 U.S. National Junior Team, Joyce will also represent the United States at the 2003 Pan-American Games. She will attend the University of Georgia to further her academic and swimming careers.

 

2004

Rhiannon Jeffrey
Atlantic High School, Delray Beach, Florida

Jeffrey will also compete for an Olympic spot after amazingly qualifying for the trials in the 50, 100 and 200-meter freestyle events. Jeffrey holds eight Florida individual high school titles, and successfully made a transition after her sophomore season to move from only sprints to attempting the 200-meters where she graduated with two state championships.

 

2005

Hannah Smith
Dexter High School, Dexter, Michigan

Smith set state records in winning the 50-meter freestyle and the 100 backstroke as a senior, leading Dexter High to a runnerup finish in the Division II state tournament. She advanced to the finals in six events in the Spring Junior Nationals in March, led by finishes of third place in the 100 backstroke and fourth place in the 200 backstroke. Her other finishes: sixth (50 freestyle, 50 backstroke), seventh (100 freestyle) and 14th (50 butterfly). The 77 points she earned for her club, the Ann Arbor Swim Club, were the most earned by any senior female athlete in the competition and the fifth highest total overall.

 

2006

Alexandra Clarke
Sunnyslope High School, Phoenix, Arizona

Clarke overcame three knee surgeries since the seventh grade and a season-long recovery from a sprained ankle to win her second consecutive Class 4A state titles in the 200 freestyle (1:52.02) and the 500 freestyle (5:01.58). Clarke's performance helped Sunnyslope win its first state team title. She continued to enhance her reputation as one of the nation's top distance swimmers with victories in the 500, 1000 and 1650 freestyle at the Short Course Junior Nationals in March. Also an outstanding student, Clarke was honored this spring as a National Merit Scholar.

 

2007

Lauren English
Montville Township High School, Montville, New Jersey

English set two state records this year and became the first girl to win four Meet of Champions state backstroke titles and only the fourth girl to win a single event four times. She broke her own state record by swimming the 100-yard backstroke in 54.39 seconds, and also upset a three-time defending state champion to win the 50-yard freestyle in a state-record 23.11 seconds. English finished ninth in the 100-meter backstroke in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials, and the next year she set the national high school record (1:02.17), a mark she broke (1:01.39) in the Morris County Championships this year. She will attend the University of Georgia.

 

2008

Michelle McKeehan
Center Grove High School, Greenwood, Indiana

McKeehan became the fourth Indiana girl to become a four-time state champion in two different events. She set a national record for the second straight year in the 200 individual medley and also won her fourth title in the 100 breaststroke. She won the individual medley last season in 1:58.06, a national record that stood six days before Mary Beck of Austin Westlake High swam 1:57.74 and 1:57.41 on back-to-back days at the Texas state meet. This year, McKeehan swam 1:56.87 to reclaim the record. She won the breaststroke in 1:00.12 to break her own state record (1:00.23) set last year, and that time was just .52 seconds off the national record. McKeehan, who won the breaststroke in the Pan-American Games last summer, will join last year's Senior Athlete of the Year, Lauren English of Montville (N.J.) High, at the University of Georgia next fall.

 

2009

Mary Beck
Westlake High School, Austin, Texas

Beck also was a national record-setter this year - for the second year in a row. She swam 1:56.45 in her signature event, the 200-yard individual medley, setting a state record for the third consecutive year. She broke the national record of 1:56.87 set by last year's National High School Girls Swimmer of the Year, Michelle McKeehan of Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove High. Beck's time of 1:57.41 in last year's Class 5A state meet also was a national record until McKeehan broke it at her state meet. Beck's time in the 100-yard backstroke (53.03) not only is also a state record, but the national public school record, and she is a two-time state champion in that event. Beck also swam the nation's fourth-fastest time in the 100-yard freestyle in 2008 (49.54) and holds the Junior Pan Pacific Championships records in the 200 and 400 individual medleys. She will attend the University of California-Berkeley.

 

2010

Emily Bos
Holland High School, Holland, Michigan

A two-time Division 2 Girls Swimmer of the Year, Bos is a six-time individual state champion who owns four state records, three as an individual. She set the all-class record (54.05) in the 100 backstroke in 2008, her third state title in that event, and set two Division 2 state records in the same meet: 22.62 in the 50 freestyle, winning the first of two titles in that event, and 1:45.27 as part of the 200 medley relay. Bos gave up a chance to become a four-time backstroke state champion to help her team earn more points, and she repeated as 50 freestyle champion and set another Division 2 record in the 100 freestyle (49.94), the second-fastest time in that event in state history, to help Holland earn state team runner-up honors. She competed in the backstroke at the 2008 U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing 38th among 122 competitors, and is the 47th fastest female in the world in the event. The Detroit Athletic Club named Bos its Michigan Student Athlete of the Year, and she is just the second West Michigan recipient of the award in its 14-year history. She will attend Auburn University.

 

2011

Gretchen Jaques
Glendora High School, Glendora, California  

Nicknamed "The Glendoranator” for her domination of her two current signature events, the 200 individual medley and the 100 breaststroke, Jacques completed a two-year sweep of the Southern Section (SS) Division 2 titles in both events, giving her a perfect 8-for-8 record in Division 2 individual finals, and also won SS Masters titles in both events. She is ranked No. 1 among high school seniors in both events. Jaques was the SS Division 2 champion in the 50 and 100 freestyle her freshman and sophomore years, and the SS Masters champion in the 50 as a freshman. As a junior, Jaques broke U.S. Olympian Janet Evans’ national high school record in the 200 individual medley – a record that had stood since 1988 – in the preliminaries, and in the finals, she set the all-time California high school record with a time of 1:57.91, breaking a nine-year-old record. She also set the Division 2 meet record in the 100 breaststroke (1:00.83). She was the Swimmer of the Meet at the USA Swimming Short Course Junior Nationals in December, scoring a meet-high 94 points, and was honored by Sports Illustrated magazine in its Faces in the Crowd section in the Jan. 24 issue. A three-time San Gabriel Valley Tribune Swimmer of the Year, Jaques will attend the University of Texas.

 

2012

Bonnie Brandon
Cherry Creek High School, Greenwood Village, Colorado

One of the most storied swimmers to come out of one of Colorado’s most storied programs, the 6-foot-2 Brandon went 4-for-4in the 5A state championships, finishing her career with 14titles – seven individual and seven in relays. She also won four events her freshman and sophomore years. Brandon broke her own state records in winning the 200 individual medley and the500 freestyle for the second time in her career, and also was apart of the Bruins’ state-record 200 freestyle relay performance in 2011. Her time of 1:59.09 in the medley was 2.8 seconds faster than the record she set in the preliminaries the previous day. And in the 500, her time of 4:43.52 beat the state record she set as a sophomore by more than eight seconds. Brandon also swam anchor legs to help the Bruins to a sweep of the 200and 400 freestyle relays. She also owns titles in the 50 and 400freestyle and the 100 backstroke. The former national record holder in the 13-14 age group in the 200 backstroke, Brandon was the silver medalist at the Junior Pan-Pacific Championships in 2010 and at the Pan-American Games in 2011, finishing third in the USA Swimming National Championships. She is ranked fourth in the United States and 24th in the world in the event. Also an outstanding student with a 4.0 grade-point average,she will attend the University of Arizona.

 

2013

Missy Franklin
Regis Jesuit, Aurora Colorado  

While Missy Franklin won America’s hearts at the 2012 London Olympic Games with four gold medals and a bronze, it was what she did in high school that really stands-out. Franklin didn’t rest on her Olympic glory – instead she returned to Regis Jesuit to swim with her friends for her senior season. Franklin led here school to the Colorado 5A title, its second in three years. In the pool, Franklin won two individual gold medals this year and two for her team’s 200 and 400 relay teams while setting a national record in the 200-yard individual medley.  

 

2014

Janet Hu
Oakton High School, Vienna, Virginia

Janet Hu has been opening eyes in the sport since she was 12 years old when she broke her first national record in her age group. She closed out her high school career undefeated in individual high school competition by winning gold medals in the 50 freestyle and 100 fly that led her school to its third straight Virginia high school team championship. Hu, who was the #2 recruit in the nation, will swim for Stanford University. Hu is the first girls’ swimmer from Virginia honored by the NHSCA.

 

2015

Katie Ledecky
Stone Ridge School of the Sacred Heart, Bethesda, Maryland

Like 2013 honoree Missy Franklin of Regis Jesuit High School in Colorado, Katie Ledecky ended her high school career with an Olympic Gold Medal.  As a 15-year old, Ledecky surprised the world by capturing the 800-meter freestyle gold at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London. She is the current world record holder in the 400-, 800-, and 1,500-meter freestyle (long course). She also owns the fastest-ever swims in the 500- and 1,650-yard freestyles.  Her high school career came to a close in February at the D.C Metros where she lowered her own national high school record in the 200 freestyle and obliterated her own American record in the 500-yard freestyle. Ledecky will attend Stanford.

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