Allison Schmitt Posts Strong Early Marker in 200 Freestyle at Pro Series Stop in Knoxville

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Allison Schmitt knows a little something about starring at the Olympic Games, and the veteran freestyler certainly opened her Olympic season in stylish fashion on Friday night. Kicking off the second night of the TYR Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Schmitt produced a strong performance to secure top honors in her prime event, the 200-meter freestyle.


Nearly eight years after claiming the gold medal in the 200 free at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Schmitt made it clear she plans to be a contender this summer, when the Olympics head to Tokyo. In front of the field for all but the first lap, Schmitt posted a winning time of 1:56.01. That effort enabled the eight-time Olympic medalist to comfortably outdistance countrywomen Simone Manuel (1:57.25) and Melanie Margalis (1:57.80).

A three-time Olympian, Schmitt figures to be one of the crowd favorites at the United States Olympic Trials in Omaha in June. Over the past few years, Schmitt has spoken openly about her battles with depression and has encouraged others to seek help when facing similar ordeals. The willingness of a high-profile name and decorated Olympian to discuss depression has emphasized the fact that the disease can affect anyone.

By nearly dipping under the 1:56 barrier in the first month of the Olympic campaign, Schmitt served notice that her training under coach Bob Bowman is going well. Last month, Schmitt turned in a time of 1:56.47 in Atlanta, a mark that left ranked 13th in the world for the year.

“I’m excited,” Schmitt said. “This will be my fourth Trials, and so I’m excited for where we are. We’ve made a lot of progress, especially within the last four years. I’m happy with that time, and I know what we have to focus on from now until the end of summer.”


Photo Courtesy: Connor Trimble

A blue-chip recruit bound for the University of Texas and pegged as a future staple on the Team USA roster for international competitions, Carson Foster looked sharp in his 2020 debut. The 18-year-old from Ohio opened his night with a convincing triumph in the 200 freestyle, as his outing of 1:47.74 easily bested the 1:49.07 turned in by runnerup Zane Grothe. Foster later finished third in the 400 medley, where he placed behind Kieran Smith (4:16.36) and Jarod Arroyo (4:16.67).

Foster is an Olympic hopeful this summer in several events, but most notably the individual medley disciplines. While Foster will be a leading contender to contest a medley event in Tokyo, his continued growth in the 200 freestyle has opened doors for the teen to represent the United States in relay action, specifically as a leg on the 800 freestyle relay.


Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Three women went under 58 seconds in the 100 butterfly, with Amanda Kendall taking the decision in 57.65, followed by Regan Smith in a 17-18 NAG record of 57.86 and Kelsi Dahlia in 57.98. Kendall went out in 26.91, and that early speed was the deciding factor as Smith was closing the gap at the finish. The world-record holder in the 100 backstroke and 200 backstroke, Smith used the 100 fly to show her range. In Omaha, Smith is expected to lead the way in the backstroke events, but also contend for Olympic berths in the butterfly and the 200 freestyle, where relay bids are up for grabs.

“I usually consider myself a freestyler, and I still love freestyle, but now I consider butterfly my baby,” Kendall said. “It’s just a fun stroke. There’s only one speed which is fast. There’s a lot of international competition and if I can get up there with the best, then that would make me really happy.”

In other action, Annie Lazor emerged victorious in the women’s 100 breaststroke, her mark of 1:06.68 placing her more than a second clear of Emily Escobedo (1:07.71). Nic Fink prevailed in the men’s 100 breast, going 1:00.00. Giles Smith topped the field in the championship heat of the 100 butterfly, but his winning time of 52.56 was slower than the 52.52 posted by Andrew Seliskar to win the consolation final. Madisyn Cox topped the competition in the 400 individual medley in 4:39.25.

“It’s a great training block and confidence boost, especially given that I’ve had a pretty hard week in training this week,” Lazor said. “To know that I can train hard this week and still get up at the end of the week and race is kind of what it’s all about. At Trials, you’re going to be racing a lot—you’ll be racing three times instead of two. So it’s nice to know that even with a heavy load, I can still get up and race fast.”