U.S. Olympic Trials: Regan Smith Dials Up Sub-58 Effort in 100 Backstroke to Pace Dynamic Field

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Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Regan Smith Dials Up Sub-58 Effort in 100 Backstroke to Pace Dynamic Field

Given the depth the United States boasts across multiple events, it is usually difficult to identify one event as the can’t-miss discipline of the United States Olympic Trials. This year, though, there has been months-long focus on the women’s 100-meter backstroke. Why? Well, when the final unfolds on Tuesday night, there is a guarantee that an Olympic-medal contender will be left at home, forced to watch the action in Tokyo from afar.

Between the two semifinals at the CHI Health Center, there were five sub-59 performances, headlined by Regan Smith clocking in at 57.92. The time for Smith is the second-fastest of her career and landed her Lane Four for the final, the teenager just a swim away from becoming an Olympian for the first time. Smith was dominant in her semifinal, turning in first place at 28.24 and widening her advantage with every stroke on the lap home.

Smith will be the heavy favorite for the title in the final, but she must maintain her guard due to the quartet of chasers she will have to fend off. Claiming the second seed was 2016 Olympian Olivia Smoliga, who won the first semifinal in 58.50. Also cracking the 59-second barrier were Katharine Berkoff (58.62), Rhyan White and Isabelle Stadden. White and Stadden produced matching marks of 58.99.

The 100 backstroke underwent a world-record rewrite just a few days ago, thanks to Kaylee McKeown delivering an effort of 57.45 at the Australian Olympic Trials in Adelaide. That swim bettered Smith’s former global standard of 57.57, set on the front of the American medley relay at the 2019 World Championships.

Whether Smith can scare McKeown’s newly minted record will be interesting, but with a 57-point outing the semifinal as fuel, a pursuit is not out of the question. What will be missing from the final is former world-record holder Kathleen Baker, who failed to advance while dealing with a foot injury.

Results:

1. Regan Smith, 57.92
2. Olivia Smoliga, 58.50
3. Katharine Berkoff, 58.62
4. Isabelle Stadden, 58.99
4. Rhyan White, 58.99
6. Phoebe Bacon, 59.62
7. Catie DeLoof, 59.90
8. Lisa Bratton, 1:00.18