Bobby Finke, Leah Smith Earn 800 Freestyle Wins at TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont

Bobby Finke -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Bobby Finke, Leah Smith Earn 800 Freestyle Wins at TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont

The third stop of the 2023 TYR Pro Swim Series began Wednesday afternoon in Westmont, Ill., with 800 freestyle competition, and a pair of U.S. veterans picked up comfortable victories. In the men’s race, Bobby Finke swam to a four-second win over Charlie Clark while Leah Smith finished well ahead of the women’s field.

Finke, the Olympic and world champion in this event after a pair of come-from-behind, last-length victories at the last two major meets, negative-split the race by covering the first 400 meters in 3:58.20 before picking up the pace considerably and returning in 3:55.76. Gator Swim Club’s Finke finished in 7:53.96, almost 15 seconds shy of the American record he set at Worlds last year (7:39.36) while Clark, the Ohio State swimmer who was 12th at Worlds, took second in 7:57.97. Tommylee Camblong, a native of France now competing for the University of Georgia, took third in 8:01.02.

Meanwhile, Smith cruised to a time of 8:28.23 to win the women’s event. Smith, representing Longhorn Aquatics, finished fourth at the World Championships last year in 8:20.04, about a second behind bronze medalist Simona Quadarella, but her 2022 performance was a huge bounce-back after missing the 2021 Olympic team entirely.

Second place went to Brazil’s Beatriz Dizotti, who was competing in the second-fastest heat, in 8:32.93, while Chile’s Kristel Kobrich, a five-time Olympian who is now 37 years old, finished third in 8:37.18. Sun Devil’s Sierra Schmidt took fourth in 8:39.60. Erica Sullivan, the 2021 Olympic silver medalist in the 1500 free, was fifth (8:40.23) while Erin Gemmell placed sixth (8:42.13) in a rare appearance in the 16-length race.

Notably, Katie Ledecky is the five-time world champion, three-time Olympic champion and world-record holder in the 800 free, but she withdrew from the Westmont meet due to illness.

The meet continues with full prelims-finals action over the next three days, with Thursday’s slate of events including the 200 free, 100 breaststroke, 50 backstroke, 100 butterfly and 400 IM.


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