World Championships, Day 8 Finals: Kate Douglass Breaks American Record in 50 Free, Wins Silver Medal

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

World Championships, Day 8 Finals: Kate Douglass Breaks American Record in 50 Free, Wins Silver Medal

Kate Douglass has reached the individual medal podium for the third time this week at the World Championships, and she did so in record-breaking fashion. In the 50 freestyle final, Douglass’ final race of the eight-day meet, the 22-year-old American got off to a sizzling start, and while she could not hold off sprint superstar Sarah Sjostrom, she did become the quickest U.S. swimmer in history.

Douglass touched in 23.91 to take down the American record of 23.97 set by Simone Manuel at the 2017 World Championships, a meet where Manuel won bronze behind Sjostrom and Ranomi Kromowidjojo. No other American had ever broken 24, with Abbey Weitzeil coming the closest at last year’s U.S. Nationals where she clocked 24.00.

Douglass has now knocked a half-second off her best time in the 50 free over the past three months to become the eighth-fastest woman ever in the event. She swam a lifetime best of 24.38 at the U.S. Open in early December, where she beat her top American rivals including Weitzeil and Torri Huske, and then in the early rounds in Doha, Douglass went 24.19 and 24.24. But that was a precursor to her sub-24 finals swim. Douglass now looks like the favorite to win the 50 free at this year’s U.S. Olympic Trials, although it’s worth noting the event will conflict with the 200 IM in the race program.

Her successful performance at the World Championships in Doha began with gold in the 200 individual medley, and Douglass continued wracking up medals throughout the week. On night six, Douglass took fourth in a tight 100 free final before coming back minutes later to earn silver in the 200 breaststroke. The 50 free bronze gives Douglass an individual medal in three different disciplines this week, joining Tracy Caulkins as the only American woman to ever pull off that feat, according to NBC Sports’ Nick Zaccardi.

Douglass and Curzan did not race any women’s relays this week (the U.S. scratched two relays and missed the final in the third), but she anchored both United States mixed relays, taking gold in the 400 medley and bronze in the 400 free.

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