U.S. Nationals: Kate Douglass Drops Hammer With 2:08.29 in 200 IM Prelims

Kate Douglass -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Nationals: Kate Douglass Drops Hammer With 2:08.29 in 200 IM Prelims

Nine months after claiming Olympic bronze in the 200 individual medley, Kate Douglass was absent from the event at the next U.S. selection meet. Having already secured her World Championships spot in the 200 breaststroke and 400 freestyle relay, Douglass chose to skip an event that was not her favorite and race the 50 free on the final day instead. With the decision, Douglass gave up a very strong chance at a World Championships individual medal.

Now, Douglass has put together a season that has her climbing the list of world’s top swimmers, and that has included a return to the 200 IM. At the NCAA Championships, Douglass swam the fastest time in history in all three of her events (short course yards), including a 200 IM performance where she beat the previous best set by world champion and Virginia teammate Alex Walsh by 1.71 seconds.

Already in Indianapolis, Douglass has shown her ability to convert that success to long course. She pulled off an upset win in the 100 free, placed second behind Lilly King in the 200 breast and took third in a deep 100 fly field. She ranks among the top four in the world in all of those events, even as she was not quick enough to earn a Worlds spot in the 100 fly.

And as for the 200 IM, Douglass has firmly returned to the mix, stamping her name on the list of true international contenders in the event with a 2:08.29 prelims swim. That broke her personal-best time of 2:09.04 set on the way to Olympic bronze two years ago, and she now ranks third in the world behind Summer McIntosh and Kaylee McKeown. Douglass is now the 11th-fastest woman in history in the race and the third-best American behind Ariana Kukors and Walsh.

Douglass did not need to swim so fast in the morning, not as she pulled away from Leah Hayes, last year’s World Championships bronze medalist in the event, in their heat on the breaststroke leg. She ended up beating that field by more than four seconds, and she was three seconds clear of the rest of the field in qualifying. We’ll see how much speed Douglass has left for the evening swim, where we can expect Walsh to return to the 2:07 range and Hayes to be well under 2:10.

Walsh was second in prelims in 2:11.02, while Torri Huske, the 100 fly winner, took third in 2:12.23. Hayes’ time of 2:12.32 was good enough for fourth, while Wisconsin teammates Phoebe Bacon (2:13.35) and Beata Nelson (2:13.40) took fifth and sixth, respectively. Bella Sims, who is qualified for Worlds after finishing second in the 400 free, was seventh in 2:13.61.

There was a tie for eighth in prelims between Virginia’s Abby Harter and Florida’s Isabel Ivey, with both clocking 2:14.23, setting up a  swim-off for the eighth spot in the final. In that swim-off, Ivey took the lead on backstroke, but Harter’s superior breaststroke pushed her ahead, and she held on at the end. Harter touched in 2:13.60 to make the A-final, and Ivey finished in 2:14.03, faster than her prelims effort but relegating her to the consolation heat.

Immediately after, a second swim-off for the C-final in the event saw Louisville’s Abby Hay get the better of Trojan’s Isabelle Odgers, 2:15.76 to 2:16.92.

Florida’s Zoe Dixon would have qualified for the final after she swam a best time by a second at 2:13.19, which would have been fifth in prelims, but Dixon was disqualified for a butterfly kick during breaststroke.

Notably, Regan Smith skipped the event, despite clocking 2:08.48 in the event in June. After winning the 100 back Friday night, her third victory of the meet after the 200 fly and 200 back, Smith said, “I’m tapping out. I’m good with that, too. I know my place with my breaststroke. I’m excited to watch Kate and Alex rip it tomorrow.”

Abby Hay 2:15.76, Odgers 2:16.92

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