Rex Maurer and Matthew Chai Battle to 4:17s in 500 Free at Kevin Perry Invite

By Braden Keith on SwimSwam

2021 Kevin B. Perry Invite

November 4-7, 2021
Splash! La Mirada Regional Aquatics Center, La Mirada, California/
Short Course Yards, Prelims/Finals
Results on Meet Mobile: “2021 CA Kevin B Perry Senior Meet @RMDA v1” (search “Perry”)

Rex Maurer, the #2 recruit in the high school class of 2023, made his case for #1 on Friday night at the Kevin B. Perry Invite in Los Angeles.

Maurer swam a 4:17.52 in the 500 free final, winning a blistering head-to-head battle with senior Cal commit Matthew Chai, who was a tenth back in 4:27.27.

Maurer was already the top-ranked swimmer in the class in the 500 free with a best of 4:19.57, which he knocked two seconds off on Friday.

Maurer’s closing 100 meter split is what set him apart in this race from Chai, making up a full-second deficit in the last two laps, and against his previous personal best.

Maurer previous PB

Rex Maurer Splits

Matthew Chai Splits

100y
48.74
48.39
49.91

200y
52.8
53.08
42.17

300y
53.66
53.54
52.44

400y
52.78
52.35
51.78

500y
51.59
50.16
51.32

Not to be overlooked, the time was also a personal best for Chai by almost 6 seconds.

Chai is a very good distance freestyler, and this 500 free is almost a ‘sprint’ for him, and he showed much-improved ‘speed’ in the event. His time surpasses Liam Custer’s 4:18.49 that was the best time in the class when we did our spring re-rank. Chai was unranked at that time, but with his latest drops, almost definitely will be when we re-evaluate the class later in the season.

He also dropped 19 seconds off his previous best time in the 1000 free, touching in 8:55.87. His best time entering the meet was 9:15.00.

In that 1000 free on Thursday, Chai won handily over the runner-up Maurer. Maurer was 2nd in 9:07.55, which is an 11.5 seconds improvement off his previous personal best. The 200 and 500 frees are Maurer’s best events (he just missed the US Junior National Team in the 400 free by .16 seconds), so a big drop in the 1000 shows an expansion of his range. He also split 1:37 on the anchor of an 800 free relay and 20.12 on the anchor of a 200 medley relay.

Maurer’s parents Lea and Erik Maurer were both NCAA Champions at Stanford, and Lea, an Olympic gold medalist, is the current interim head coach at USC.

The top performance on the girls’ side so far came from a pair of youngsters at the top of the table. 15-year old Teagan O’Dell won in 22.78, after a 22.61 in prelims, and 14-year old Bella Brito finished 2nd in 22.88.

That ties Brito with Olympic gold medalist Amanda Weir as the 28thf-best time in 13-14 age group history in the 50 free. Those are the first two swims by any 15-and-under this season under 23 seconds.

Other Day 1 & 2 Highlights

Mission Viejo’s Justina Kozan, a member of the USA Swimming Junior National Team in four events, won the 200 IM in 1:57.73. Kozan was previously training under Mark Schubert at Mission Viejo, though Schubert recently left the program to move down the road to SET. That’s about 1.4 seconds short of her best time. Jamie Brennan finished 2nd in 1:59.31, which is a 2.6 second improvement on her previous best time of 2:01.91 done at this meet two years ago. Brennan is a senior and a Northwestern commit.
Another Northwestern commit, Tona Zinn from Socal Aquatics Association, won the boys’ 200 IM in 1:47.72. He was 1:46.4 at the CIF Division 2 Championship meet in May. Further down the rankings, Ray Liu, who is Maurer’s high school teammate at Loyola High and Rose Bowl Aquatics, swam 1:51.68 for 13th place. Between prelims and finals, he dropped almost 3 seconds off his lifetime best. That swim ranks him 30th all-time in the 13-14 age group, and 1st nationally in the age group this season. He is only a high school freshman.
13-year old Kayla Han, a National Age Group Record breaker in the 11-12 age group and the youngest 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials qualifier, won the 1000 free in 9:51.26. That swim is a 21.5 second improvement off her previous lifetime best from last December, and, even at the very young end of the age group, ranks her 52nd all-time among American 13-14s. Kathryn Hazle finished 2nd in 9:56.41, which is also a huge personal best – her fastest coming into the meet was 10:12. Hazle is a high school junior who has not yet announced a college commitment.

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