TYR Pro Series: Regan Smith Wins Sneak Peek of Trials Final in 100 Back

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The final night of the TYR Pro Series stop in Des Moines was very much a sneak preview of what is to come at the United States Olympic Trials in June, especially in the women’s 100 backstroke. One night after prevailing in the 200 backstroke, Regan Smith bested a strong field at half the distance with the sixth-fastest time in history.

Smith led wire-to-wire in a field that also included former world-record holder Kathleen Baker and Olivia Smoliga, the world champion in the 50 backstroke. Smith fended off Baker down the stretch to touch in 58.18, with Baker following with an impressive time of 58.56. Smoliga checked in with a third-place finish of 59.25.

The women’s 100 backstroke is one of the most-anticipated events of the U.S. Trials in Omaha as it showcases an exceptionally deep field. The world-record holder at 57.57, Smith is the favorite to nail down the top spot for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, but it will not be an easy event for anyone to negotiate, including Smith.

 “It’s great because it is such a stacked and talented field,” Smith said. “The crowd here really felt it and I felt really hyped up and excited. It was just such a great field and it just makes me really excited to race. It’s nerve-wracking for sure but it’s important to use those nerves in a good way and fuel them into your race. It’s also great being next to those girls who are so talented just because we’ve all really gotten so close and I really look up to them so much, so it’s really great.”

Although the lineup in Des Moines was stacked, it was still missing some major players who will play a big role at Trials. Phoebe Bacon, with a career-best of 58.63, will surely be in the mix, along with Katharine Berkoff, Isabelle Stadden and Lisa Bratton. Of the top-five Americans in history, only Missy Franklin will be missing in Omaha.

Caeleb Dressel capped the night in style when he roared away from the competition in the 50 freestyle, going 21.51 for a message to his sprint foes ahead of the summer. Dressel used his trademark start to open up a sizable lead and beat a pair of veterans to the wall. Nathan Adrian was second in 21.88 while Canadian Brent Hayden, in the middle of a comeback after an eight-year layoff, was timed in 21.97.

The men’s 200 individual medley was captured by Michael Andrew, who pushed the pace for the first three legs and held on to post a personal best of 1:56.83. Andrew put together an excellent weekend in Iowa, as he won the 100 breaststroke in 59-low and was 51-low in the 100 butterfly. Come Trials, the key for Andrew will be selecting a schedule that allows him to seek multiple opportunities for Tokyo bids without overloading what his body can physically handle.

“This 200 I.M. is the biggest swim for me of the weekend,” Andrew said. “Coming into this, we’ve really been working a lot in the 200 I.M., knowing that it’s a relatively open event as far as open events for the U.S. team go. I knew I wanted to get under 1:57. That was the starting point. I was just trying to etch my name, get up there and try and make a statement to say that this is the race we’re focusing on and we’re coming for it, and I think we did a good job of that.”

The excitement brought by the women’s 100 backstroke was matched later in the session by Melanie Margalis and Madisyn Cox in the 200 individual medley. Racing side by side for the four laps, nothing separated the women at the finish as Margalis and Cox posted identical times of 2:09.03. Margalis was coming off a career-best effort en route to victory in the 400 medley on Friday night and looks to be the United States’ most well-rounded IM’er a few months out from Trials.

Coming off a dominant win in the 200 backstroke from Friday night, Ryan Murphy was equally impressive in the 100 back, as he won by more than a second. The reigning Olympic champion was timed in 52.79, with former Cal teammate and training partner Jacob Pebley finishing second in 54.45.

“Times aren’t really a focus, it’s more about executing,” Murphy said. “I feel like I did a good job there. I didn’t let myself get over-excited, and I think that’s the key for me in the 100 back. I want to kind of control it in the first 25 and then really rip it from there and I think I did a good job of that tonight.”

In the women’s 200 breaststroke, Annie Lazor showed that the momentum she picked up during the 2019 season has carried over to the Olympic year. Lazor posted the fastest time in the world this year in the 200 breast, going 2:21.67 to comfortably defeat Lilly King, who went 2:22.95. Lazor was the gold medalist in the 200 breast at last summer’s Pan American Games.

A strong surge in the final lap powered Nic Fink to victory in the men’s 200 breaststroke in 2:09.87, an effort that gave him breathing room over Athens Bulldogs teammates Chase Kalisz (2:11.61) and Kevin Cordes (2:11.99). Kalisz chose to bypass his specialty individual medley events in Des Moines and came away with solid showings throughout the meet in the 200 butterfly, 200 backstroke and 200 breaststroke. Kalisz was also second in the 200 fly and fifth in the 200 back.

With Katie Ledecky opting to scratch out of the 800 freestyle following wins in the 200 free, 400 free and 1500 free, the door was opened to Leah Smith. Clocking a strong time of 8:23.46, Smith secured a comfortable win over Hali Flickinger, who checked in at 8:29.96, a solid effort for the reigning World Champs silver medalist in the 200 butterfly.

 “I was really happy with that,” Smith said. “After I went 4:12 in the prelims in the 400 free feeling really smooth, I thought I could probably do that twice. I was kind of shooting for 8:24 or faster so I’m really happy with that. It was faster than U.S. Open, and I’ve been just looking to improve on each long course meet I have this season.”

Egypt’s Akaram Mahmoud won the men’s 800 freestyle in 7:55.89, slightly quicker than the 7:56.30 of Nick Norman. Katarzyna Wasick of Poland pulled off an upset in the women’s 50 freestyle, her 24.58 clipping world champion Simone Manuel, who was timed in 24.68.

 

4 comments

  1. Sarah Dodge

    Congratulations what an amazing strong, bad ass swimmer!

  2. Nick Cittadinni

    What an incredible field. Omaha is going to be heartbreaking.