Kathleen Baker Stuns With World Record On Night Four Of US Nationals

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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The 2018 Phillips 66 National Championships continues tonight in Irvine, CA with the best of the United States vying for spots on a number of international rosters for this summer and next year’s World Championships team.

There were plenty of shocking swims tonight, with the most impressive having to go to Kathleen Baker. The swimmer stunned the crowd with a new world record in the women’s 100 backstroke on the fourth night of finals in Irvine, blasting a 58.00 to nearly become the first woman under 57 seconds in the event and make her the fastest swimmer in the event in 2018 by more than half a second.

Michael Andrew followed up with his 50 breast win and U.S. Open record last night with another win in the 100 breast tonight, while Lilly King punched her ticket to Pan Pacs with a dominant win in the women’s event. And two Olympic gold medalists, Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers, closed the night by going 1-2 in the men’s 100 back and posting the two fastest times in the world this year. Check out all the highlights from the fourth night of finals below!

Finals Heat Sheet – Day Four
Day Four Predictions
Official Psych Sheet

Day Three Finals:

  • Women’s 400 Free
  • Men’s 400 Free
  • Women’s 100 Breast
  • Men’s 100 Breast
  • Women’s 50 Back
  • Men’s 50 Back

Women’s 400 Free

Katie Ledecky won her third National title of the meet to kick off the penultimate night of finals, leading through the entire race to touch in 3:59.09. While that it off of her season best of 3:57.94 (which also stands as the U.S. Open record), that time is still nearly two seconds faster than anyone else in the world. Ledecky was under her own world record pace through the first half of the race but couldn’t quite stay there through the final meters of the race.

Leah Smith was second in 4:02.21, about a 1.5 seconds off of her lifetime best and two seconds faster than she has been so far this season. That  swim moves her up one spot in the world rankings to third, jumping past China’s Jianjiahe Wang (4:03.14) and moving behind Australia’s Ariarne Titmus (4:00.93).

In third was Haley Anderson in 4:07.21, which is her first time under 4:08 and another big best time for the Trojan swimmer at this meet after her third place finish in the 800 free on night one. Just behind her was former Purdue swimming Kaersten Meitz in 4:07.60, which was also her first time under 4:08.

Sierra Schmidt (4:08.98), Geena Freriks (4:09.04), Hali Flickinger (4:10.42), and Kirsten Jacobsen (4:11.14) made up the rest of the A-final. Allison Schmitt, who is already on the Pan Pacs team after her second place finish in the 200 free, won the B final in 4:08.46.

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Men’s 400 Free

Zane Grothe battled his way to a win in the 400 free, holding off a persistent Grant Shoults to come away with the win in 3:46.53. Shoults was with Grothe the entire way but couldn’t catch him over the last 100 meters. He was less than half a second behind in 3:46.90. That’s a season best by about two seconds for Grothe and a big lifetime best for Shoults by about 1.5 seconds. Both men will also be for sure heading to Tokyo for Pan Pacs.

In third was Chris Weiser (3:48.92), while Zach Yeadon was fourth in 3:49.09. Yeadon actually briefly held the lead in the race at the 200 mark, but couldn’t hold onto the pace over the second half of the race. Trey Freeman and World Junior Champion Andrew Abruzzo had a strong battle for fifth, with Freeman getting the edge 3:49.90 to 3:50.04.

True Sweetser was seventh in 3:51.98, just ahead of Ben Lawless (3:52.01).

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Women’s 100 Breast

Lilly King backed up her win in the 50 breast yesterday with a dominant showing the 100 breast tonight, recording the only time under 1:06 in the field this evening with a 1:05.36. King was out fast in 30.32 and never looked back, punching her ticket to Pan Pacs after failing to qualify earlier in the meet in the 200 breast. That also improves on King’s second ranked time in the world this year, but wasn’t enough to catch #1 ranked Yulia Efimova (1:04.98).

In second was Katie Meili in 1:06.19, which also puts her on the Pan Pacs team. King and Meili went 1-2 in this event last summer at World Championships, and the two will have another chance to repeat that finish this summer in Tokyo. In third was 200 breast champ Micah Sumrall, who was only fifth at the turn but had the fastest closing split of the field (34.91) to finish in 1:06.34. That is her best time, breaking her 1:06.51 from 2014.

In fourth was top seed Molly Hannis, who went a 1:05.78 lifetime best this morning but was 1:06.36 in the final. Hannis was out fast just 3-tenths behind King, but couldn’t hold on the second 50. She will have to wait to see if her swim will be good enough for a spot on the Pan Pacs team. In fifth was Breeja Larson (1:07.80), while Jorie Caneta (1:07.82), Emily Weiss (1:07.99), and Riley Scott (1:08.24) rounded out the A-final.

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Men’s 100 Breast

Michael Andrew stunned the field with a 59.38 win in the 100 breast, giving the 19-year-old his second National title of the meet and dropping close to a half second from his best time from earlier this season. Andrew was actually out in only fifth at the 50 wall in 27.67, but had the fastest closing split of the field (31.71) to get his hands to the wall first.

In second was Andrew Wilson in 59.43, just a few tenths off his best time from earlier this season at the TYR Pro Series in Atlanta. Just behind Wilson in third was Devon Nowicki (59.48), who has had a breakout year that could be culminating with him earning a spot on the Pac Pacs roster. Nowicki was actually first to the wall at the 50 and under American record pace in 27.21, so there may be even more in the tank for him this summer.

In fourth was American record holder Kevin Cordes in 59.72, who will have to wait to see if that swim will be good enough for a shot at Pan Pacs and a chance to qualify for Worlds. He was followed by Cody Miller (59.77), Nic Fink (1:00.12), 200 breast champion Josh Prenot (1:00.42), and Will Licon (1:00.53).

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Women’s 100 Back

Kathleen Baker stunned the crowd with the first world record of the 2018 Nationals meet, nearly becoming the first woman under 58 seconds with a 58.00. Baker was out very fast, flipping nearly 6-tenths under world record pace at 27.90. She was able to hold on down the stretch to get to the wall in 58.00, breaking Canadian Kylie Masse’s record from World Championships last year while also erasing Missy Franklin’s 2012 American record and Baker’s own U.S. Open record from last summer.

The top three finishers were all under 59 seconds, with Olivia Smoliga punching her ticket to Pan Pacs with a 58.75 that improves her best time by .02. Regan Smith followed in third in 58.83, a best time and another new world junior record holder for the 16-year-old. Phoebe Bacon, who was the second seed out of prelims, was slightly off her morning time to finish in fourth in this final.

Katharine Berkoff was fifth in 59.77, which is the 17-year-old’s first time under 1:00. NC State’s Elise Haan was sixth in 1:00.08, while Ali DeLoof (1:00.13) and Lida Bratton (1:00.55) rounded out the final.

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Men’s 100 Back

The final of the men’s 100 back featured two Olympic gold medalists in Ryan Murphy and Matt Grevers, and the two made it a race down to the wire as they went 1-2 at the finish. Murphy got his hand to the wall just ahead of Grevers to give himself the backstroke triple at this meet, touching in 52.51 to Grever’s 52.55.

Grever’s second place ensures he’ll have a spot on the Pan Pacs roster and puts him in a strong position to qualify for 2019 Worlds. Those times move both men to first and second respectively in the world so far for 2018. In third was NC State’s Justin Ress (53.26), who may get a chance to swim this event at Pan Pacs as well. Ress was second to Murphy in the 50 back last night and was also under the former American record.

Cal’s Bryce Mefford was fourth in 53.84, followed by teammate Jacob Pebley (54.05) and Texas swimmer Austin Katz (54.06). Daniel Carr, the fourth Cal swimmer in the A-final, was seventh in 54.27, while Harvard’s Dean Farris rounded out the final with a 54.55. Screen Shot 2018-07-28 at 10.25.29 PM