Sandpipers of Nevada swimmers showed at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, that their performances in last year’s Summer Olympic Games were no fluke.
Bella Sims and Claire Weinstein were on the 4×200-meter freestyle relay team that earned gold Wednesday with a meet record time of 7 minutes, 41.45 seconds. That mark was 1.22 seconds off the world record.
Katie Grimes won silver medals in the 1,500-meter freestyle Monday and 400-meter individual medley Saturday, and she could pick up another medal Tuesday in the 10-kilometer open water. She is the only American woman competing in pool and open water.
In the relay, Sims swam the anchor leg after Katie Ledecky gave the U.S. a substantial lead. She followed Ledecky’s 200-meter time of 1:53.67 with a 1:54.60 to secure the victory.
Sims also swam the anchor in the heats, clocking a 1:55.91. She won silver in the event at last year’s Tokyo Olympics, but competed in the heats and not the final.
“When she was able to swim (well in the heat) and go faster than her lifetime best, it showed the coaches there that, ‘Hey, if we put her at the end and we’re in the race by that point, she’s got a really good shot at stepping up at that level and finishing the job,’” Sandpipers assistant coach Jake Des Roches said.
Sims, 17, and Weinstein, 15, were on the relay team that included veterans Ledecky, 25, and Leah Smith, 27. The teenagers are putting themselves in position to make the 2024 U.S. Olympic team for the Paris Games.
So is Grimes, 16, who finished fourth in Tokyo in the 800-meter freestyle.
Grimes now looks as if she could be one of the top Americans in Paris, taking more than six seconds off her best time to finish second to Ledecky in the 1,500 and become the youngest U.S. medalist at the World Championships since Ledecky in 2013. Ledecky, Sandpipers of Nevada team member and 2021 Olympic silver medalist Erica Sullivan and two-time world champion Kate Ziegler are the only Americans who have gone faster in the 1,500.
“I’m just so happy that I was able to get another medal for team USA,” Grimes told NBC Sports. “I was really nervous leading up to this race, but talking to all my teammates really made me calm.”
In the 400 IM, Grimes swam a 4:32.67 to finish behind Canadian Summer McIntosh, 15, who clocked a 4:32.04.
“It’s quite clearly a big step up in terms of her racing abilities and her focus and how she’s able to handle these international and world-class swim meets now,” Des Roches said of Grimes. “When we’re talking about especially a 15-year-old last summer being on the world stage at the Olympics, that’s a really hard spot for anyone to be whether you’re 15 or 40.”
In open water, Grimes will compete in the women’s 10K on Tuesday with Canadian and fellow Sandpiper Abby Dunford, 16.
Former Sandpipers Brennan Gravley, 21, and Dylan Gravley, 19, also will compete in open water. Both brothers will swim Wednesday in the 10K, and Brennan also will compete in the 5K on Monday.