Regan Smith Doubles At U.S. Open, Including Lightning 100 Backstroke; Katie Ledecky Not Pleased With Win In 200 Freestyle


Regan Smith Doubles At U.S. Open, Including Lightning 100 Backstroke

Given the way she opened the U.S. Open on Thursday night, Regan Smith seemed primed to produce a dazzling show on the second night of competition. And that is exactly what the 20-year-old did at the Greensboro Aquatic Center, as Smith bested the competition in the 100-meter butterfly and 100 backstroke.

Packaging the best front half and back half of the 100 fly, Smith cruised to a dominant win. Smith touched the wall in 57.65, not far off her personal best, and topped second-place finisher Beata Nelson (58.93) by more than a second. Gabi Albiero was the third-place finisher in 59.06. With the 100 fly ranking no higher than fourth on Smith’s list of top events, her effort is a positive sign for where she sits on the cusp of 2023.

As strong as she was in the 100 butterfly, Smith was sensational in the 100 backstroke, where she produced a winning time of 57.95. Smith was out in 28.38 and came home in 29.57 to secure a decisive margin over Katharine Berkoff (59.87). The time delivered by Smith was faster than the 58.22 she managed en route to the gold medal at the World Championships in Budapest.

In late summer, Smith announced she was foregoing her final three years of collegiate eligibility to turn professional. As part of that decision, Smith opted to shift her coaching setup to Bob Bowman in the Arizona desert. Based on what Smith has done during her two days in North Carolina, it’s clear her training under Bowman is paying dividends.

Prior to her victory in the 100 butterfly, Smith claimed a first-place finish in the 200 individual medley during Thursday night action, her time of 2:10.40 setting a personal record and opening eyes. The momentum gained from that performance carried over into the Friday schedule and is allowing Smith to put a nifty bow on her 2022 campaign.

Smith is slated to race the 200 butterfly and 200 backstroke on the last day of the meet, a double that could provide the latest evidence of the Team USA star’s growth during her three months working with Bowman. Especially in the 200 backstroke, Smith has an opportunity to deliver a statement swim in an event in which she is the world-record holder, but has not represented the United States at the last two major international competitions.

Katie Ledecky Grabs Third Win

Although she called it a “bad day,” Katie Ledecky picked up her third victory of the meet, complementing prior first-place finishes in the 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle with a win in the 200 freestyle. Challenged by rising star Erin Gemmell, Ledecky posted a time of 1:56.74 to edge Gemmell, who touched the wall in 1:57.16.

Ledecky was not pleased with the swim, saying she felt off. But after Gemmell led at the 50-meter mark in 27.13, Ledecky took command and led through the remainder of the race. Ledecky was coming off an impressive win over Summer McIntosh in the 400 freestyle from Thursday night, a showdown in which both women went sub-4:00.

In Other Action:

Ireland’s Mona McSharry was the class of the field, as she nearly dipped below 1:07. McSharry took the win in 1:07.06, which was comfortably ahead of the 1:08.46 of Kaelyn Gridley.

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