The New, Young Faces of USA Women’s 200 Backstroke Events in 2018

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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By Kevin Donnelly, Swimming World College Intern.

Last weekend at the Mel Zajac Invitational in Vancouver, 15-year-old phenom Isabelle Stadden swam an incredible 2:08.37 in the women’s 200 back, placing first overall and vaulting to eighth in the world for the 2018 long course season. Stadden, who swims for the Aquajets Swim Team in Minnesota, now stands as the fastest American woman of any age in 2018 – just a couple tenths of a second ahead of 16-year-old Regan Smith, who swam a 2:08.64 at the Austin Pro Swim Series back in early January.

Changing of the Guards in the 200 Backstroke

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The young duo of Stadden and Smith developing into international-level talents in the backstroke events marks a changing of the guard, so to speak, for American women’s backstroke. After Missy Franklin and Maya DiRado won Olympic golds in the 200 back in 2012 and 2016, respectively, new faces have been taking to the event for the US.

Last summer, Kathleen Baker and Smith represented the US at the 2017 World Championships in the 200 back, with both advancing to the final; Baker won the bronze medal, while Smith took eighth in her first international final to date.

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Photo Courtesy: SIPA USA

Reviewing 2017 Backstroke Results

The US National Championships in 2017 saw its fair share of great American talent emerge in the women’s backstroke events. Three American women broke the 2:10 barrier in the final, with Baker leading the way at a 2:06.38. Smith claimed second in 2:08.55 (slower than what Stadden put up last weekend in Vancouver). Asia Seidt took third with a 2:08.99.

During the National Championship meet, Stadden – then just 14 years old – was competing in the same event at an Aquajets-hosted meet and posted a 2:18.10. Now, less than a year later, Stadden has lopped off nearly ten seconds and stands as a favorite to challenge the women who qualified for the World Championships last summer.

The US women’s 200 backstroke is beginning to heat up with intense competition. It will be interesting to see which ladies snag the top three spots at the National Championships this summer to qualify for the 2018 Pan Pac Team.

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