U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 5 Prelims: Kate Douglass Takes Down Trials Record With Dominant 2:19 200 Breast

Kate Douglass -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 5 Prelims: Kate Douglass Takes Down Trials Record With Dominant 2:19 200 Breast

She did not compete on the first three days of Olympic Trials before cruising through the first three rounds of the 100 freestyle. But Kate Douglass decided that the prelims of the 200 breaststroke provided a great opportunity for her first statement swim of the week. There was no tangible advantage to pushing a sub-2:20 performance in the morning, especially considering no one in the field had previously gone sub-2:25, but Douglass used the swim to remind the world of her monumental ability in the event.

Earlier this year, Douglass broke Rebecca Soni’s 12-year-old American record with a time of 2:19.30, and for much of her heat, she was just off that pace while crushing her closest competition, Virginia teammate Ella Nelson. Douglass finished with a blistering time of 2:19.66, under the U.S. Nationals record of 2:20.34 that Soni posted in 2009. Only defending Olympic gold medalist Tatjana (Schoenmaker) Smith and Douglass herself have beaten that time thus far in 2024. Douglass crushed her heat by six seconds, even though Nelson ended up posting the third-fastest time of the morning at 2:25.86.

Lilly King, already on her third Olympic team following a convincing win in the 100 breast, went head-to-head with Alex Walsh in the fifth heat. As is her style, King established a big early lead before Walsh significantly closed the gap on the third 50, with the two swimmers appearing to touch the wall at exactly the same time. King then reasserted herself on the way home to touch in 2:25.61, which ended up as the second-best qualifying mark of the day, while Walsh went 2:26.96 for the fourth-best time.

Kaelyn Gridley, who crushed her seed time to make the final of the 100 breast, won her heat to finish sixth in 2:27.14, while Emma Weber was back in the pool after her shocking second-place finish in the 100 breast to qualify for her first Olympic team. Weber swam a mark of 2:28.82.

Thirteen total swimmers broke 2:30 in the prelims, including Alexis Yager (2:29.04), Raya Mellott (2:29.11), Maddy Huggins (2:29.17), Addie Robillard (2:29.21), Kaitlyn Dobler (2:29.34), Zoie Hartman (2:29.73) and Anna Keating (2:29.79). Keating made it five Virginia swimmers in the semifinals along with Douglass, Walsh, Nelson and Weber.

Gabrielle Rose, the 46-year-old who competed for Brazil in the 1996 Olympics and for the United States four years later, returned to the pool after a surprise semifinals appearance in the 100 breast. Rose entered as the slowest seed in the 200 breast, but she dominated the first heat of the event and recorded a time of 2:30.13, more than one-and-a-half seconds quicker than her entry time. Moreover, Rose had the top time entering the circle-seeded heats, and she was able to advance to the semifinals.

Isabelle Odgers (2:30.44) and Abigail Herscu (2:30.52) were the last swimmers to advance to the semis.

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