Regan Smith Shatters Missy Franklin’s 200 Back World Record In 2:03.35 (Video)

Regan Smith of the United States of America (USA) celebrates a New World Record after competing in the women’s 200m Backstroke Semifinal during the Swimming events at the Gwangju 2019 FINA World Championships, Gwangju, South Korea, 26 July 2019.
Regan Smith reacts to a new world record. - Photo Courtesy: Patrick B. Kraemer

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World Swimming Championships (Regan Smith)

Gwangju 2019

Day Six Semifinals

Women’s 200 Backstroke

Regan Smith of the United States looked impressive in the women’s 200 back prelims when she broke her own world junior record with a 2:06.01, but as it turns up, that was just the beginning. Smith looked like a world title contender, but few expected she would shatter Missy Franklin’s world record. Smith did just that, recording a monumental 2:03.35 to take down the 2:04.06 Franklin set on her way to Olympic gold in 2012.

Smith’s splits: 29.06, 1:00.37, 1:31.84, 2:03.35
Franklin’s splits:
29.53, 1:00.50, 1:32.16, 2:04.06

The outcome of the semifinal was never in doubt, as Smith stormed ahead of the field just as she had in the preliminary round. And what resulted was the fastest swim ever recorded by a whopping seven tenths, after Smith had entered the race ranked No. 9 all-time in the event.

“I’m in shock. I really don’t believe it. I didn’t think I’d ever do that. It’s crazy but I am very happy with what I was able to do,” Smith said. “I really just wanted to get myself in a good lane for tomorrow night’s final and I just hoping to slip under 2:06, that was my goal. If I (went) 2:05-mid or something, that would (have been) amazing. I exceeded my expectations and I’m super super happy.”

Previously, Smith won just a single senior-level international medal, a bronze in the 200 back at Pan Pacs in 2018. Smith made her international debut at the 2017 World Championships, where she finished eighth in the 200 back, and she later took down the world junior record in the 100 back. Smith didn’t have the opportunity to swim the 100 back in Gwangju, but she recorded a 58.45 last month that was faster than the gold medal-winning time in the event this week.

The U.S. World Championships team was selected last year, with Smith missing out on berths in both the 100 back and 200 fly by one spot. After her world record-breaking performance, Smith could still end up with another race in the Gwangju beyond the 200 back final, should the U.S. coaches elect to swim Smith on the leadoff leg of the 4×100 medley relay Sunday evening.

Behind Smith, Canada’s Kylie Masse took second in 2:06.57 to qualify for lane five in the final, while Italy’s Margherita Panziera took third in 2:06.62. Panziera and Masse had ranked second and third in the world, respectively, prior to Smith’s record-shattering swim.

A second Canadian, Taylor Ruck, got into the final, while two Australians, Minna Atherton and Kaylee McKeown, and two Hungarians, Katinka Hosszu and Katalin Burian, rounded out the top eight. American Kathleen Baker, the 100 back world record-holder and last year’s Pan Pacs champion, ended up ninth in 2:09.68.

  1. Regan Smith (USA), 2:03.35 WR
  2. Kylie Masse (CAN), 2:06.57
  3. Margherita Panziera (ITA), 2:06.62
  4. Minna Atherton (AUS), 2:07.38
  5. Katinka Hosszu (HUN), 2:07.48
  6. Kaylee McKeown (AUS), 2:08.19
  7. Taylor Ruck (CAN), 2:08.42
  8. Katalin Burian (HUN), 2:09.40

World Record Progression:

  • 2:03.35, Regan Smith, USA (2019)
  • 2:04.06, Missy Franklin, USA (2012)
  • 2:04.81, Kirsty Coventry, ZIM (2009)
  • 2:05.24, Kirsty Coventry, ZIM (2008)
  • 2:06.09, Margaret Hoelzer, USA (2008)
  • 2:06.39, Kirsty Coventry, ZIM (2008)
  • 2:06.62, Krisztina Egerszegi, HUN (1991)
  • 2:08.60, Betsy Mitchell, USA (1986)
  • 2:09.91, Cornelia Sirch, GDR (1982)
  • 2:11.77, Rica Reinisch, GDR (1980)

All-Time Performers:

  1. 2:03.35, Regan Smith, USA (2019)
  2. 2:04.06, Missy Franklin, USA (2012)
  3. 2:04.81, Kirsty Coventry, ZIM (2009)
  4. 2:04.94, Anastasia Zueva, RUS (2009)
  5. 2:05.68, Emily Seebohm, AUS (2017)
  6. 2:05.72, Margherita Panziera, ITA (2019)
  7. 2:05.85, Katinka Hosszu, HUN (2017)
  8. 2:05.94, Kylie Masse, CAN (2019)
  9. 2:05.99, Maya DiRado, USA (2016)
  10. 2:06.06, Belinda Hocking, AUS (2011)

Swimming World caught up with Regan Smith while she was on a training trip in Fort Myers in June. While on the trip she said, “I hope I can have a higher finish than I did in 2017.” She could be standing on top of the medal podium tomorrow night. You can watch her video feature below.

Read more about the FINA World Swimming Championships.


  1. Georgie Parkes

    Holy cow!!!! That is FAST Backstroke!!! ??

  2. Maureen Taylor O

    I would love the video of this swim for my little 9 year old backstroker!!!!

  3. Trina Thames

    Talk about shoulder roll amazing swim!

    • avatar
      Walter Snable

      Beautiful to watch,congrats

  4. Tim Hroma

    Wow!! Great job Regan!

  5. Kara Muscillo

    Kim Pfarrer DiJoseph this chic is ridic!! I mean she has nothing on your backstroke but she is FAST!

    • Kim Pfarrer DiJoseph

      Kara Muscillo crazy with all the up and rising smoking fast swims

  6. Gloria Garcia

    Diego Aguilera no ma!! El récord de franklin ?

  7. Ja Bounce

    That’s awesome!! Congrats Regan!

  8. avatar
    John Seelen

    A perfect illustration of how poorly thought out the American selection process was. Choosing a team one year ahead leaves off some of our best swimmers, particularly rapidly developing teenagers like Smith and Urlando, and includes swimmers that are off last year’s form. Any doubts that Smith could have won the 100 back? What a shame we didn’t get to see her in more than one event and that we didn’t get to see a future superstar like Urlando at all.

  9. Frank Carey

    “Awesome”… the correct word…!!!

  10. Wyatt Blanchard

    Good! The less Missy Franklin WR we have the better

    • Sam Engel

      Wyatt Blanchard why?

    • Wyatt Blanchard

      Sam Engel she’s a terrible ambassador for the sport

    • Susan Steeper Magnanelli

      Wyatt Blanchard so what has she done or not done to make her bad for the sport of swimming? Have you been involved with swimming before? Just curious.

    • John McCormack

      Wyatt Blanchard she turned you down didn’t she?

    • Wyatt Blanchard

      John McCormack that’s be kinda hard because she’s from Colorado and I’m from CA… but hey whatever helps you sleep at night

    • Frank Magnanelli

      Have your opinion, Wyatt but Missy was a great swimmer.

    • Susan Steeper Magnanelli

      Wyatt Blanchard well both my kids were yr round competitive swimmers, USA Swimming, summer league swimming and high school swimming. My daughter swam 4 years in college and qualified for NCAA Nationals all 4 yrs. My husband was a referee for all of those groups and I was a team rep and of course tons of timing. Involved in swimming for a good 15 yrs and I think you’re wrong about her. My daughter admired Missy very much as 200 back was her best event too. I don’t know what you feel is so bad about Missy. She inspired a lot of swimmers in her career.

      Here’s her reaction to her record being broken:

      I truly couldn’t be happier seeing my World Record go to someone who I believe at the bottom of my heart is one of the greatest inspirations and kindest humans in the world. Congrats my dear @reganesmith4 ? Thank you. For sharing your gift with us. You’re beyond a joy to watch.

    • Lisa Bendall

      Wyatt Blanchardyou are definitely not the epitome of sportsmanship. You clearly don’t have a legitimate leg to stand on because you couldn’t give an intelligent answer to Sam Engel’s question. Stop trolling

  11. Greg Ory

    Lots of WR’s going down… nice work kid!!!

  12. Amanda Braun Thorne

    her head is so fricking still and in perfect position. That is what good backstroke looks like. Wow. Amazing swim.

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