2021 TYR Pro Swim Series: 200 Freestyle Depth Showing Out For American Women in Prelims

200 Freestyle top seed Regan Smith. Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

The 2021 TYR Pro Swim Series continued Friday morning from San Antonio and Richmond as many of the United States’ best were opening up the Olympic year in their first long course action since late November. This morning’s session was a short one with the 200 free, 100 fly, 100 breast and 400 IM on the heat sheet.

Finals will begin at 7 p.m. EST and San Antonio finals will be on Olympic Channel.


200 Freestyle

Riptide’s Regan Smith leads the San Antonio field with a 2:00.35 just ahead of Sarasota’s Emma Weyant (2:00.75) and Texas’ Madisyn Cox (2:00.87). The American women have been traditionally strong in the 4×200 freestyle relay, winning the Olympic or World titles every year from 2011 – 2017, finishing with a silver medal at the 2019 Worlds but also finishing under the existing world record.

Smith and Weyant are two rising stars who have put their names in for consideration in the 200 freestyle while also being stronger forces in other events, with Smith holding the world records in the 100 and 200 back and Weyant winning the 2019 national title in the 400 IM.

Also in San Antonio, Olympians Abbey Weitzeil (2:01.18), Melanie Margalis (2:01.55) and Olivia Smoliga (2:01.75) finished in the top eight with Smoliga needing a swim-off to advance to the A-Final with Cal junior Isabel Ivey. It should be a great race as many of the women will have Olympic relay spots in the back of their minds.

In Richmond, Erin Gemmell of the famed Nation’s Capital Swim Club, holds the top spot at 2:00.56 ahead of Long Island’s Tess Howley (2:01.16) and rising star Cavan Gormsen (2:01.83).

100 Breast

Reigning Olympic gold medalist Lilly King holds the top seed in San Antonio in the 100 breaststroke with a 1:08.19, comfortably ahead of 2012 Olympian Micah Sumrall (1:09.44) and backstroke specialist Kathleen Baker (1:09.67). King has been virtually unbeatable in breaststroke races since winning gold in Rio in 2016 and she is head and shoulders above the field here. Baker, who won Olympic silver in the 100 back, has emerged as a strong contender in the 200 IM and looks to be strengthening her weaknesses with a racing opportunity here in the 100 breaststroke.

In Richmond, Olympic hopeful Emily Escobedo is the top seed at 1:08.36 and although she and King will not be racing side by side, it will be an exciting virtual race to see who comes out on top as Escobedo, a graduate of UMBC, has really bloomed into a world star in breaststroke. 17-year-old Letitia Sim of Alabama is the second seed at 1:08.97 ahead of Michigan grad Miranda Tucker (1:09.50).

We highlighted before the TYR Pro Swim Series that there could be a breakout star at this meet and Sim may have turned some heads this morning with her swim.

100 Fly

Texas freshman Olivia Bray had a nice morning swim in San Antonio with her 59.29 as she is just ahead of Regan Smith at 59.32. Those two were the only ones to break a minute as Wisconsin grad Beata Nelson (1:00.07) was just on the outside looking in. Nelson had a tremendous short course career at the University of Wisconsin but many doubted her ability to translate that to long course meters, but with her near sub minute 100 fly this morning, it appears that the long course training at Wisconsin’s new pool may already be paying dividends for the first-year pro.

In Richmond, Long Island’s Tess Howley (1:00.26) was the top seed ahead of Tennessee’s Maddy Banic (1:00.29), who had a very nice showing at the International Swimming League where she broke the American record in the 50 fly in short course meters. Banic is another swimmer that was primarily known to be a strong short course swimmer but she had a strong morning swim in long course, and a sub-minute 100 fly in January after the pandemic lockdown would be a good stepping stone for her heading into the rest of 2021.

400 IM

Emma Weyant, who is staying at home in Sarasota with coach Brent Arckey and delaying her enrollment to the University of Virginia, is the top seed in the 400 IM from San Antonio with a 4:41.92 ahead of Wisconsin’s Ally McHugh (4:42.62), who made the final at the 2019 Worlds. The 400 IM is one of the most difficult races and after some extended time out of the water due to the COVID-19 pandemic this summer, it was going to be interesting to see how the best distance swimmers would fare trying to get back into long course 400 IM racing. Weyant, who is 19, had a good showing this morning as she was not far off her best of 4:35.

Madisyn Cox, another one of the top IM’ers in the USA, is seeded third at 4:47.90 ahead of Texas’ Evie Pfeifer (4:48.34) and rising star Justina Kozan (4:50.97).

From Richmond, 16-year-old Zoe Dixon from the famed NOVA of Virginia swam a 4:45.55 ahead of fellow Virginian Samantha Tadder (4:49.72).

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