U.S. International Team Trials: Alex Walsh Breaks U.S. Open Record in 200 IM; Leah Hayes Second (VIDEO)

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The 2022 U.S. International Team Trials continued on Saturday with the final session of the meet from the Greensboro Aquatic Center.

The 200 IM was one of the most anticipated events, especially on the women’s side.

With so many stars vying for World Championship roster spots, it was an exciting event on the final night of the International Team Trials.

Alex Walsh, the Olympic silver medalist, broke the U.S. Open record in the event in 2:07.84, a time that is fastest in the world this year and a time that would have won the gold medal in Tokyo.

“It means a lot. I know it was Kathleen Baker’s record and she is a huge role model for me, so it means a lot,” Walsh said. “It was kind of an interesting race because so many of the top seeds scratched out. I needed to focus on my own race. I didn’t know I had a 2:07 in me at this meet, so I really couldn’t be happier with how I swam it. I am definitely becoming more confident in myself in that race and learning how to close it really well. I am really happy with how my endurance is looking.

“The confidence has stemmed from my training. That has been the biggest difference.”

Baker’s U.S. Open record was 2:08.32.

Leah Hayes, 16, was initially disqualified in the prelims by one official but it was eventually overturned and Hayes got a spot in the final and made the most of it, swimming the second-fastest time in the world this year at 2:09.99.

“I am just so honored. I can’t describe it. It is an overwhelming feel of joy,” Hayes said. “It is still quite a shock. As we were getting the team picture and I had a conversation with Katie Ledecky and Lilly King. Are you kidding me? It was definitely a fun week. The realization that I was coming here finally came when I was packing. I didn’t want to put expectations on myself, but to make the team was quite a surprise to me, and I am honored. Swimming next to Alex Walsh was incredible. I have looked up to her for a long time and she is so nice.”

Walsh was happy to have Hayes join her on the worlds team.

“I knew the she had it in her,” Walsh said. “She is a rising star for sure.”

Walsh was the NCAA champion in the event, part of a remarkable meet that saw her win both IM events and the 200 butterfly. She won the Olympic silver medal in the 200 IM in Tokyo and has continued to climb into the world’s elite in multiple events.

Beata Nelson took the lead after the butterfly leg of the race, just ahead of Walsh.

In the backstroke, Walsh took over the lead and Hayes was second, ahead of Nelson at the halfway point.

Walsh continued to build her lead during the breaststroke, as expected and hung on in the freestyle leg.

Hayes was able to hang on for second place after making the move early in the race.

Nelson won the event at the NCAA championships a few years ago. She finished seventh at the Olympic trials in the 200 IM.

Nelson finished third in 2:11.80, followed by Indiana’s Mackenzie Looze (2:13.28), USC’s Isabelle Odgers (2:15.33), Tennessee’s Sara Stotler (2:15.40), Louisville’s Abby Hay (2:16.30) and Nova’s Teagan O’Dell (2:17.62).

Here are all the links you need for coverage of the USA Swimming International Team Trials:

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