U.S. International Team Trials: Regan Smith Edges Katharine Berkoff in 50 Back Prelims, Sets U.S. Open Record

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Regan Smith -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. International Team Trials: Regan Smith Edges Katharine Berkoff in 50 Back Prelims, Sets U.S. Open Record

At the U.S. International Team Trials, backstroking speed was on display in the final heat of the women’s 50 backstroke as Regan Smith and Katharine Berkoff went head-to-head. Berkoff, who took down Smith’s American record in the 100-yard back at last month’s NCAA Championships, took the lead off the start and breakout, but Smith slowly closed the gap as the swimmers came down the stretch.

At the finish, Smith got the touch in 27.40, just four hundredths ahead of Berkoff in 27.44.The two swimmers ended up just off Olivia Smoliga’s American record of 27.33, which she set while capturing the world title in the 50 back in 2019. Smith did lower the U.S. Open record, a mark of 27.43 that Smoliga set in 2019.

Smoliga qualified third in 27.75, while Rhyan White, who qualified for Worlds with a second-place finish in Wednesday’s 200 back, ended up fourth in 27.93. A field of impressive sprinters will race in the final with Erika Brown (28.05), Claire Curzan (28.09), Kylee Alons (28.25) and Gretchen Walsh (28.26) getting into the final. Walsh was the second-place finisher in the 100-yard back at NCAAs last month, going under Smith’s previous American record in the process.

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