U.S. Nationals: On Way to 200 Freestyle Title, Luke Hobson Flashes Great Potential and American Depth (VIDEO)


U.S. Nationals: On Way to 200 Freestyle Title, Luke Hobson Flashes Great Potential and American Depth

The title corralled by the United States in the 800-meter freestyle relay at last month’s World Championships was deeply desired. It snapped a three-meet skid in the event during global competition (including a podium miss at the Tokyo Olympic Games), and with a 7:00.24 clocking, Team USA registered a formidable time.

During the second night of finals at the United States National Championships, Luke Hobson – among others – provided evidence that support for that relay is stashed away.

Heading into his sophomore season at the University of Texas, Hobson will return to Austin as a national champion, thanks to a career-best performance in the 200 freestyle. Racing at the William Woollett Aquatic Center, Hobson pulled away from the field during the second half of the race and touched the wall in 1:46.14. That effort enabled the 19-year-old to hold off Olympian Kieran Smith, who placed second in 1:46.32.

Meet Results

At the World Champs, the U.S. benefited from the combined efforts of Drew Kibler, Carson Foster, Trenton Julian and Smith. The first three members of the relay delivered splits in the 1:45-range while Smith hammered the anchor leg to the tune of a 1:44.35 effort. Still, there was a missing element in Budapest – a guy named Duncan Scott.

As the United States prevailed and Australia earned the silver medal at Worlds, Great Britain picked up the bronze medal. The foursome of James Guy, Jacob Whittle, Joe Litchfield and Tom Dean went 7:04.00, more than five seconds adrift of the time the British generated to win the Olympic crown in Tokyo. Much of the difference was due to Scott’s absence, as the Scottish star’s 1:43 ability was not available due to his recovery from COVID-19.

Because sports are often about opportunity and timing, the American contingent took advantage of Britain’s weakened lineup. Yet, there is also the realization that the British will once again be a gold-medal factor in the event, and the development of stellar 200 freestylers is a must for the United States on the road to the 2024 Olympics in Paris.

Hobson showed the future looks good.

At April’s International Team Trials, Hobson narrowly missed qualifying for the World Championships when he placed seventh in the 200 freestyle. Going 1:47.43, Hobson was a half-second out of the sixth-place position, which would have landed the youngster relay duty in Budapest. Instead, the freestyler went back to work and used Nationals as his latest chance to display his potential. All he did was shave more than a second off his time from a few months back.

En route to his first national title, Hobson raced within himself during the opening 100 meters, turning in seventh at the 50-meter mark and fifth at the midway point. Hobson picked up the pace on the third length and while he was fourth turning for home, Hobson was right with the leaders. He then turned in a closing split of 27.02 to leave the opposition behind.

“Going in, I knew I wanted to take out that first 100 pretty smooth (and) really work on that third 50 and last, and it worked out well,” Hobson said. “I had it coming home, and it felt great.”

With Hobson emerging as a guy who should boost the United States in future international meets, Smith figures to continue his role as a go-to performer. Optimism can also be found in what Jake Magahey and Grant House did in Irvine. On the way to third- and fourth-place, respectively, Magahey and House recorded times of 1:46.62 and 1:46.68.


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