Why Kate Douglass Decided to Attend Doha World Championships

Kate Douglass -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Why Kate Douglass Decided to Attend Doha World Championships

After two consecutive dominant seasons on the college level in which she swam the fastest short course yards times ever in four different events, Kate Douglass is not racing for the University of Virginia this season. But she still has a championship meet on which to focus in advance of this summer’s Olympic Trials, with the 22-year-old from Pelham, N.Y., one of the most high-profile American swimmers to accept a spot on the team for the Doha World Championships.

Douglass will be busy next week, as she is entered in six individual events over the course of the eight-day meet. She will start by defending her world title in the 200 IM, in a field missing top rivals Summer McIntosh, Kaylee McKeown, Yu Yiting and Virginia training partner Alex Walsh, and Douglass will be the heavy gold-medal favorite in the 200 breaststroke after she joined the sub-2:20 club with an American record last month at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Knoxville, Tenn.

Douglass is also entered in the 50 and 100 freestyle, both events where she is seeded fourth and definitely among the medal threats, as well as the 100 breast and 50 butterfly. It’s unclear if Douglass and fellow American star Claire Curzan will race women’s relays given the lack of depth on the American roster, but they will surely compete with their male counterparts on the mixed 400 medley and freestyle relays.

Why make the trip across the world so close to Olympic Trials? Douglass said that she’s used to championship-level racing at this time of year, and she feels that the positives she could glean from Doha outweigh any drawbacks.

Kate Douglass of the U.S.A. competes in the Women's Medley 200m Heats during the 20th World Aquatics Championships at the Marine Messe Hall A in Fukuoka (Japan), July 23rd, 2023.

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

“I kind of thought it just would be a good opportunity to go have a cool experience in Doha and also get a lot of racing practice in because obviously I’ll be doing a lot of races, and I think that will be a good thing to kind of show myself that I can do a bunch of races,” Douglass said. “It’s a long meet, and I think it could be a good confidence booster. I don’t think it’s really going to be detrimental my training.”

Potentially the busiest session of racing for Douglass will come on night six in Doha, when she could have the 100 free final, 200 breast final and 50 fly semifinal within 90 minutes. Last year, Douglass became the first swimmer since the World Championships adopted an eight-day format to race both the 100 free and 200 breast at the same meet, finishing fourth in the freestyle before a breaststroke silver.

This time, she will be in a mix with Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey, Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom, Australia’s Shayna Jack and the Netherlands’ Marrit Steenbergen in the 100 while the Netherlands’ Tes Schouten will be the only swimmer potentially close to Douglass in the breaststroke.

As for the 200 IM, without any of Douglass’ main rivals in town, she could cruise to a second consecutive title. That’s quite a turnaround for a swimmer who eschewed the event at a selection meet less than two years ago. Douglass had won an Olympic bronze medal one year earlier, but she simply disliked the event. Not the case anymore.

“I definitely think I’m in a good spot with the 200 IM,” Douglass said. “I think last summer definitely helped. It showed me that all the training I did for that race, it showed me that I was back in that race and I enjoyed training for it and racing it again. I guess I would say I’m in a pretty good place in that event, and I’m excited to continue training that and racing that with Alex.”

An elite international performer in butterfly, breaststroke and freestyle, Douglass admits that her backstroke still needs some work, and that stroke has been a target in training. “I think that’s why I’m excited about it,” she said. “The backstroke is definitely a big spot where I can make a lot of improvement, so that’s definitely been a big focus in training. I’m doing a lot more backstroke work and hoping we can bring down that split a little bit.”

She has already moved to the forefront of the global standings in the 200 breast, and now, a little bit of improvement on backstroke could yield a swim in Doha that will make Douglass tough to beat in the 200 IM at the Paris Games.

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Nick the biased Aussie
Nick the biased Aussie
20 days ago

Retirement in 2025?

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