World Championships, Day Four Semifinals: Regan Smith Snatches American Record From Berkoff in 50 Backstroke

Regan Smith -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

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World Championships, Day Four Semifinals: Regan Smith Snatches American Record From Berkoff in 50 Backstroke

After finishing second behind Australian rival Kaylee McKeown in the 100 backstroke final Tuesday, Regan Smith will go into the 50 back final in pole position after she got the better of the field in the semifinals. On her way to a win in the second semifinal heat, Smith swam a time of 27.10 that broke Katharine Berkoff’s American record in the event by two hundredths.

Smith’s time moved her into a tie with the Netherlands’ Kira Toussaint for third all-time in the event, with only Chinese swimmers Liu Xiang (26.98) and Zhao Jing (27.06) having ever posted quicker marks. Smith would be the favorite heading into the final, but she is likely to have a double Thursday evening with the 200 butterfly and 50 back final, and with the fly happening first, we’ll see how much energy Smith has remaining before she faces a tough 50 back field.

McKeown, meanwhile, won the second semifinal in 27.26, and that was good enough for the second spot out of semis. Great Britain’s Lauren Cox swam an impressive time of 27.29 for third while the top-two finishers from last year’s Worlds, Berkoff and Canada’s Kylie Masse, tied for fourth in 27.49. France’s Analia Pigree, who won bronze last year, took sixth in 27.70, and Canada’s Ingrid Wilm was seventh (27.70).

There was a tie for eighth place between a pair of Chinese teammates, with Wang Xueer and Wan Letian each finishing in 27.74, setting up a swimoff to determine the last spot in the final. Wang won the swimoff at the end of the session, going 27.78 to the 27.90 of Wan.


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