Katharine Berkoff Drops 59.52 in 100 Backstroke at Cary Sectionals

Katharine Berkoff -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Katharine Berkoff Drops 59.52 in 100 Back at Cary Sectionals

Heading into her senior season at North Carolina State University, Katharine Berkoff has won an NCAA title and achieved some international success, but she has also contended with exceptional U.S. depth in the women’s backstroke events. At the NCAA Championships in March, Berkoff became the first woman ever to break 49 in the 100-yard back as she won a second consecutive national title, and one month later, she won the 50-meter back at the U.S. International Team Trials to qualify for her first World Championships. But in the 100 back, Berkoff ended up fourth in an elite field.

After taking silver in the 50 back at the World Championships, Berkoff is racing this weekend at a Sectionals meet in Cary, N.C., just a few miles away from NC State’s campus, and she won the 100 back Friday in 59.52. The time was about nine tenths shy of her season-best time of 58.61 from April that ranks her sixth in the world for 2022.

In the men’s 200 freestyle, NC State’s Noah Bowers put up a time of 1:47.58, just off the speed required to qualify for the final in the event at a U.S. national meet. Bowers had never broken 1:49 prior to the day. Wolfpack swimmers had a big night with Annabel Crush winning the women’s 200 free (2:00.83), Grace Sheble taking the women’s 400 IM (4:47.35) and Hunter Tapp putting up a mark of 55.17 to win the men’s 100 back. The only non-NC State winner in Cary was SwimMAC Carolina’s Baylor Nelson, who won the 400 IM in 4:18.41 after taking the 200 IM Thursday.

Meanwhile, NC State sophomore-to-be Aiden Hayes is racing this week at a separate Sectionals meet in Columbia, Mo., while representing his home club (Sooner Swim Club). After swimming a time of 51.78 in the 100 fly Thursday, he won the 200 fly Thursday in 1:58.33, while Missouri’s Jack Dahlgren placed second in 2:00.05.