Podkoscielny, Zuchowski, Winkler Represent U.S. At Junior Pan Pacs That Begin Wednesday

By Sharon Robb
HONOLULU, Hawaii, August 23, 2022—The Florida Gold Coast will be well-represented when the Junior Pan Pacific Championships begin Wednesday at the K. Mark Takai Veterans Memorial Aquatics Center.

Julia Podkoscielny of Pine Crest Swimming, Josh Zuchowski of Flood Aquatics Swim Team (FAST) and Kaii Winkler of Eagle Aquatics are among 41 athletes representing the U.S. It has been called the best team USA Swimming has ever sent to the meet.

The talented trio, representing the U.S. internationally for the first time, will be among emerging stars from four Pan Pac charter nations (U.S., Canada, Japan, Australia) on display during the competitive four-day meet.

In addition to the four charter nations, other select non-European Swimming League (LEN) will also compete including New Zealand, China, Fiji, Singapore, South Korea and Ecuador. The meet is for countries that border the Pacific Ocean.

The event is the marquis junior international event on the 2022 calendar for the U.S.

USA Swimming’s selection process was the fastest 18 & unders (born in 2004 or later) from the U.S. International Trials in April. They were limited to 20 boys and 20 girls on the roster, though the roster wound up with 20 girls and 21 boys.

Podkoscielny, headed into her senior season at Pine Crest School, is an early University of Florida commit for the fall of 2023.

Podkoscielny tuned up for Pan Pacs at the USA Swimming Futures Championship in Cary, N.C. where she won two events, the 200 backstroke (2:13.86) and 400 individual medley (4:46.37); was second in the 100 backstroke (1:02.31) and 200 IM (2:15.08) and third in the 200 breaststroke (2:34.32). She also got in some racing at the Speedo Sectionals in Plantation where she competed in the 200 IM (2:16.45) and 400 IM (5:00.21).

Podkoscielny was ranked ninth on SwimSwam’s Way Too Early Recruit Ranks for the class of 2023. As an eighth grader, she was already one of Florida’s top high school swimmers.

Zuchowski, headed to Stanford on Sept. 6, fine tuned at the Speedo Junior National Championships where he made three finals. He won the 200 backstroke (1:58.42), was third in the 100 backstroke (55.18) and third in the 200 IM (2:01.92). He also won the 200 backstroke (2:01.13) and 200 IM (2:05.37) and was second in the 100 butterfly (54.69) at the FGC Long Course Senior Championships. At Speedo Sectionals, he won the 100 backstroke (56.34), 200 backstroke (2:02.98) and 50 backstroke (27.09).

Zuchowski is an 11-time national age group record holder, eight-time high school state champion and state 200 IM record holder for King’s Academy.

Kaii Winkler, 16, of Eagle Aquatics (100 freestyle) is a junior with the South Florida Heat. He is ranked ranked first in the state and seventh in the nation among 2024 recruits. He was a state 1A runner-up in the 200 freestyle in 1:36.78.

At the USA Swimming Futures Championship, he was third in the 100 freestyle (49.75). At Speedo Sectionals, he won the 100 freestyle (50.47) and 200 freestyle (1:52.19). He was also third in the 50 freestyle (23.58) and 200 IM (2:07.46) and third in the 50 butterfly (25.18).

Podkoscielny is entered in the 400 IM; Zuchowski in the 100 and 200 backstroke and Winkler the 100 freestyle although they may be added to other events and relays by the coaching staff.

Two other Floridians are on the roster: Michaela Mattes of Sarasota Sharks (800/1500 freestyle); and Gracie Weyant of Sarasota Sharks (200 breaststroke).

Headlining the U.S. roster are National Age Group record holders Erin Gemmell (Potomac, Md./Nation’s Capital Swim Club) and Thomas Heilman (Crozet, Va./Cavalier Aquatics/Piedmont Family YMCA). Sixteen swimmers are members of this year’s National Junior Team including Podkoscielny and Zuchowski.

The Junior Pan Pacific Championships coaching staff features head coach Brent Arckey (Sarasota Sharks) and assistant coaches Chuck Batchelor (SwimMAC Carolina), Tom Kleiboeker (Tsunami Swim Team of K.C.), Ginny Nussbaum (Long Island Aquatic Club), Chris Plumb (Carmel Swim Club) and Gary Taylor (Cavalier Aquatics/Piedmont Family YMCA).

Competition will take place through Saturday with prelims at 3 p.m. ET and finals at 11 p.m. ET. All sessions will be streamed at http://www.usaswimming.org/watch.

Wednesday’s events are: 200-meter freestyle, 100-meter backstroke, 200-meter butterfly, men’s 1500-meter freestyle, women’s 800-meter freestyle and 4×100-meter mixed medley relay.

Sharon Robb can be reached at sha11cats@aol.com