U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Six: Regan Smith, Kate Douglass Targeting 200-Meter American Records

Regan Smith
Regan Smith -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Six: Regan Smith, Kate Douglass Targeting 200-Meter American Records

American swimmers, coaches, officials and hundreds of thousands of fans will make their way to Lucas Oil Stadium — home of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts — for a unique U.S. Olympic Trials, complete with three temporary pools (two 50-meter and one 25-meter). The action takes place from June 15-23, with swimmers putting their hopes and dreams on the line for the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

These previews are part of a comprehensive Trials edition of Swimming World, which is set to be released this week.


Regan Smith, the silver medalist in the 200 fly at the 2021 Olympics and bronze medalist at the last two World Championships, is the big favorite to win this event and set up a duel for Olympic gold with Canadian teenager Summer McIntosh.

Last year, Smith broke an American record from the polyurethane suit era with a time of 2:03.87, jumping her to fourth all-time in the event. However, she likely will not need to be close to that time to book a ticket to Paris.

The battle for second place should be an intriguing one, with anyone who qualifies for the final likely to be in the mix. Dakota Luther has not represented the U.S. at a senior-level meet since 2017, while Lindsay Looney (2023 Worlds) and Rachel Klinker (2024 Worlds) have recently gotten a taste of high-level racing.

Tess Howley is coming off a strong freshman year at Virginia, while teenager Alex Shackell, a relay swimmer at last year’s Worlds, will receive a boost from the home crowd in Indianapolis.

Favorite: Regan Smith
Contenders: Dakota Luther, Tess Howley, Alex Shackell, Lindsay Looney, Rachel Klinker
Wild Cards: Kelly Pash, Emma Sticklen, Katie Grimes
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Hali Flickinger 2:05.85, Regan Smith 2:06.99
World Record/Splits: 2:01.81 Liu Zige, CHN (Jinan 10-21-09)
27.19           58.08 (30.89)           1:30.20 (32.12)           2:01.81 (31.61)


Having been on the podium at every major international meet since the 2016 Olympics, Ryan Murphy will seek to win the 200 back for his third straight Trials. He was the world champion in the event in 2022 and the silver medalist last year. No other American has broken 1:55 since 2021.

The slight favorite for second is Murphy’s Cal teammate Destin Lasco, a World Championships finalist last year and the owner of the fastest time ever in the short-course 200 yard back.

But Jack Aikins, Daniel Diehl, Ian Grum, Hunter Tapp, Keaton Jones and Tommy Janton are all swimmers who have posted times in the 1:56-range, and the versatile Carson Foster could also throw his name into the mix.

Favorite: Ryan Murphy
Contenders: Destin Lasco, Jack Aikins, Daniel Diehl, Ian Grum, Keaton Jones
Wild Cards: Hunter Tapp, Tommy Janton, Carson Foster
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Ryan Murphy 1:54.20, Bryce Mefford 1:54.79
World Record/Splits: 1:51.92 Aaron Peirsol, USA (Rome 7-31-09)
26.52           54.90 (28.38)           1:23.30 (28.40)           1:551.92 (28.62)


kate douglass

Kate Douglass — Photo Courtesy: Andrea Masini / Deepbluemedia / Insidefoto

Kate Douglass and Lilly King are the only two active Americans ever to break 2:20 in the 200 breaststroke. Douglass set the American record at 2:19.30 earlier this year, becoming the fourth-fastest performer in history, while King achieved the feat while winning silver at the Tokyo Olympics.

Douglass has been on the podium at three consecutive World Championships, and King was the champion in 2022. It would be a surprise if these two swimmers are not the American qualifiers for this year’s Games.

However, a swimmer in position to challenge for at least the second spot is Alex Walsh, Douglass’ training partner at the University of Virginia and the current NCAA champion in the 200 yard breaststroke. Walsh is best-known for her individual medley abilities, but breaststroke is her strongest stroke, and a swim in the low-2:20s would definitely put her in the mix.

Favorites: Kate Douglass, Lilly King
Contenders: N/A
Wild Cards: Alex Walsh, Ella Nelson, Lydia Jacoby
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Annie Lazor 2:21.07, Lilly King 2:21.75
World Record/Splits: 2:17.55 Evgeniia Chikunova, RUS (Kazan 4-21-23)
32.13           1:07.28 (35.15)           1:42.47 (35.19)           2:17.55 (35.08)

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