U.S. Olympic Trials: Hali Flickinger Top Seed, Regan Smith Strong in 200 Fly Semis

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Hali Flickinger; Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Hali Flickinger Top Seed, Regan Smith Strong in 200 Fly Semis

It can be hard to remember, with how exemplary she’s been at such a young age, that Regan Smith isn’t just a star in backstroke. She reminded the field in the 200 butterfly again Wednesday.

Smith is the second seed for Thursday night’s finals, where she’ll vie for her second swim at the Tokyo Olympics.

Smith won the first of two semifinal heats Wednesday in a time of 2:07.89, easing into finals in the stroke she calls “my first love” from when she was seven years old.

“I’m pretty pleased with both those races,” Smith said. “This morning was a little tight… Tonight I thought it was a great swim.”

Smith will have a great chance to get to Tokyo, but she won’t be the favorite in the event. That honor goes to Hali Flickinger, to no one’s surprise. The veteran, who finished seventh in the event in Rio, is the top seed, laying down a 2:06.73.

The third seed is another of the bumper crop of fast-rising teens, TAC Titans’ Charlotte Hook, who went 2:08.08. The 17-year-old is teammates with fellow teen sensation Claire Curzan.

Hook executed her race plan with plenty left in the tank late, appearing to gain on Flickinger as they closed in on the wall. The fact that so many teens have made it to Tokyo already on the women’s side is of some, but limited, motivation to Hook.

“It’s definitely super cool to see people my age make the team and make it seem so much more attainable,” she said. “But by the same token, you really just have to focus on yourself. I try not to get too caught up thinking about results and more so keeping focused on what I can control and swimming my race how I know I can swim it.”

Second to Smith was Olivia Carter, the Michigan swimmer who earns the fourth seed in 2:08.44. Carter didn’t make it back to semis in the 100 fly on Sunday, which offered her time to reset her meet. With a lot of visualization, she executed her race plan to her liking at night.

“I feel like I swam my own race this evening,” Carter said. “This morning, I think I got kind of caught up in what other people were doing. I hadn’t swum a race since Sunday … so I’ve been kind of out of it for a few days. But I feel like I got a little bit carried away with the field this morning. I had a good swim, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted it to be, but I worked on swimming my own race this evening.”

Flickinger’s heat produced five of the eight finalists, among them Kelly Pash in fifth. Dakota Luther, who was second in the morning, is the sixth seed in tomorrow’s final.

Women’s 200 Fly Finalists

  1. Hali Flickinger, 2:06.73
  2. Regan Smith, 2:07.89
  3. Charlotte Hook, 2:08.08
  4. Olivia Carter, 2:08.44
  5. Kelly Pash, 2:08.69
  6. Dakota Luther, 2:08.82
  7. Rachel Klinker, 2:09.18
  8. Lindsay Looney, 2:09.56