Kathleen Baker Drops 200 IM From World Championship Program; Ella Eastin Picks Up Spot

Kathleen Baker will no longer be swimming the 200 IM at World Championships; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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Kathleen Baker will be a little less busy in two and a half weeks at the 2019 World Championships. She was originally scheduled to swim the 50, 100 and 200 back, along with the 200 IM. But Baker has indicated she has dropped the 200 IM at Worlds since the final falls on the same day as the 100 back semi-final.

Ella Eastin will pick up the vacant Worlds spot in the 200 IM.

Baker was ranked second in the world in 2018 with her 2:08.32 she swam at US Nationals last July. She is the third fastest American this year in the 200 IM with a 2:10.65 behind Madisyn Cox, who is not swimming at Worlds, and Melanie Margalis, who will be swimming on her third Worlds team in the 200 IM.

Baker will now be solely focusing on swimming backstroke in Korea, where she will do battle with the likes of Canada’s Kylie Masse and Italy’s Margherita Panziera. That leaves the door open for Eastin to make her World Championship debut.

The updated roster looks like this:

US Women’s Roster For World Championships

  • Kathleen Baker, 50/100/200 back
  • Mallory Comerford, 100 free
  • Kelsi Dahlia, 50/100 fly
  • Gabby DeLoof, 4×200 free
  • Katie Drabot, 200 fly
  • Ella Eastin, 200 IM
  • Hali Flickinger, 200 fly
  • Brooke Forde, 400 IM
  • Margo Geer, 4×100 free
  • Lilly King, 50/100/200 breast
  • Katie Ledecky, 200/400/800/1500
  • Simone Manuel, 50/100 free, 4×200 free
  • Melanie Margalis, 200 IM, 4×200 free
  • Ally McHugh, 400 IM
  • Katie McLaughlin, 100 fly
  • Lia Neal, 4×100 free
  • Allison Schmitt, 200 free, 4×200 free
  • Leah Smith, 400/800 free, 4×200 free
  • Regan Smith, 200 back
  • Olivia Smoliga, 50/100 back
  • Micah Sumrall, 100/200 breast
  • Ashley Twichell, 1500 free
  • Abbey Weitzeil, 50 free, 4×100 free

This is not the first time an American swimmer dropped the 200 IM in favor of the 100 back. Elizabeth Pelton dropped the 200 IM in 2009 after qualifying in the 100 back as well. She gave way to Ariana Kukors, who ended up breaking the world record and winning the gold medal at the 2009 Worlds in the 200 IM. Kathleen Baker’s spot could lead to a huge opportunity for her former bay area rival Eastin.

Eastin is swimming the 200 IM this week at the World University Games in Naples, Italy. Eastin will be swimming in her first World Championships and is one of five swimmers from the contingent at Palo Alto. She will join Stanford teammates Katie Drabot, Brooke Forde, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel in Gwangju this summer.