After Fractured Foot and Gutsy Semifinal of 200 Backstroke, Kathleen Baker Still Pushing For Tokyo

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

After Fractured Foot and Gutsy Semifinal of 200 Backstroke, Kathleen Baker Still Pushing For Tokyo

Kathleen Baker, the 2016 Olympic silver medalist in the women’s 100 back, has had a rough week at the Olympic Trials in Omaha after she failed to make the final in her first two events, the 100 backstroke and 200 IM. Days before the meet began, Baker revealed she had fractured her foot in a “freak accident,” and although she had been able to be in the water, she has been walking in a boot. However, Baker will have one more shot to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics after she qualified for the women’s 200 back final, scheduled for Saturday night.

Baker qualified fourth in the 200 back semifinals in 2:08.58, by far her best swim of the meet. Previously, she had gone out fast in the 100 back semis and flipped first before fading badly and ending up 11th. Baker faded to another 11th-place finish in the 200 IM semis. But after two full days off, she returned for the 200 back and swam a consistent race with no noticeable fade to book her spot in the championship heat.

While Baker is better known for her 100 back, she is the former world record-holder and third-fastest swimmer ever in 58.00, she also has had a solid track record in the four-lap event over the years. She ranks 13th all-time and fifth-fastest ever among Americans, as well as the second-fastest active American behind world record-holder Regan Smith. Smith is the big favorite to win the event in the final, but there should be a tight battle for second. We’ll see if Baker has enough in the tank to keep up with the likes of 100 back runner-up Rhyan White, 200-yard back NCAA champion Phoebe Bacon and other top backstrokers like Isabelle Stadden.