2017 U.S. Trials Previews: Baker, Smoliga Lead Tight Pack in 100 Back

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2017 U.S. Nationals/World Championships Trials

  • Tuesday, June 27th-Saturday, July 1st
  • 50-Meter Course
  • Indianapolis, Indiana
  • Meet Info

U.S. Olympians Kathleen Baker and Olivia Smoliga will once again have their showdown in the 100 back. After Smoliga took the narrow win ahead of Baker at Olympic Trials, Baker turned the tables in Rio to win a silver medal while Smoliga finished 6th. They faced offf again at the 2017 NCAA Championships, where Baker was again victorious by just a couple of tenths ahead of Smoliga. As the only 2 swimmers in the field who have swum below 59 seconds, we could see them once again racing stroke-for-stroke into the finish as they vie for a spot at the 2017 World Championships.

Though they’re the favorites heading into the meet, Baker and Smoliga will have their work cut out for them in the battle for Worlds roster spots. Amy Bilquist, who placed 3rd at Olympic Trials, returns after falling just hundredths short of making the Rio squad. With her 59.37 from Trials finals, Bilquist is a definite threat to snag a spot.

In addition to the 3 swimmers mentioned above, the field will also feature returning Olympic Trials finalists Ali Deloof, Hannah Stevens, and Clara Smiddy. With her in-season best time of 59.43 from the 2017 Mesa PSS, Deloof is looking particularly dangerous. Likewise, Stevens is a major player after blasting a personal best 59.40 at the 2017 Mizzou Invite.

After big swims during the NCAA season, Ally Howe and Asia Seidt have entered the conversation for a finals spot. Howe made headlines when she smashed Natalie Coughlin’s decades-old 100 yard back American Record, swimming a blistering 49.69 to win the Pac-12 title. With that kind of speed, we have to think she can make improvements on her current personal best 1:00.73. Seidt had a huge freshman season at Kentucky, and has already knocked over half a second off her best time this season with a 1:01.04 at the Atlanta Classic in May. While Seidt and Howe are 2 of the big-name NCAA swimmers competing for a spot, Tasija Karosas and Bridgette Alexander also have an outside shot.

Regan Smith (photo: Tim Binning)

Former Junior World Record holder Claire Adams, who now competes for Texas, struggled with an injury last summer, but looks to be in great form now. Her personal best is a 59.58, and we likely haven’t seen all she can do since she swam through that injury at 2016 Trials before knocking 7 tenths off her yards best during the NCAA season. 15-year-old Regan Smith will look to join Adams in the ranks of swimmers who have broken the 100 back Junior World Record. She’s nearly as fast as Adams was as a junior swimmer, having thrown down a 59.74 already this season. The record currently stands at a 59.37 done by Australia’s Minna Atherton.

Fellow junior standouts Lucie Nordmann (1:00.16), Grace Ariola (1:00.49), Eva Merrell (1:01.15), and Alex Walsh (1:00.84) are among the up-and-comers looking to break into the top 8. Walsh, Ariola, Smith, and Nordmann all made the semifinals at last summer’s Olympic Trials. Ariola and Nordmann narrowly missed making the final there at 9th and 10th respectively.

TOP 8 PREDICTIONS:

Place Swimmer Best Time Since 2015 Predicted Time
1 Kathleen Baker 58.75 58.9
2 Olivia Smoliga 58.95 59.1
3 Amy Bilquist 59.37 59.3
4 Ali Deloof 59.43 59.4
5 Hannah Stevens 59.4 59.4
6 Regan Smith 59.74 59.5
7 Claire Adams 59.58 59.6
8 Ally Howe 1:00.73 1:00.1

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Swope
5 years ago

Adams!!

Joe
5 years ago

The depth in this event in the US is unreal. Gonna be tough to make this team.

Swimmer
5 years ago

What about the Berkoff kid?

Harper
5 years ago

SMOLIGA!!

Gator fan
5 years ago

I say Baker goes 58 mid and Deloof goes 58 high, i feel a little too optimistic but I’m really looking forward to this race.

Dan
5 years ago

Well, I’m watching Regan Smith routinely popping 13-second 25`s backstroke from a push before shutting down the engines the last 25 in practice here at IUPUI. Looks cut and lightening fast. Don’t be surprised when she goes at least 59.25. Probably faster. This will be a great race. So much speed across the top 8.

marklewis
Reply to  Dan
5 years ago

Thanks for the inside information. I may put up her in the top 3 or 4 for the TYR contest.

Swamfan
5 years ago

This is probably the race I am most excited for at trials. I like Baker, and she has had a great year since Olympic trials but I wouldn’t be surprised if she misses the team. Deloof has looked great all season and Stevens had a great time at the Mizzou invite. My picks are baker and deloof but it’s going to be very close

Snarky
5 years ago

You can’t fake long course. Let’s see who has done the work since March.

korn
Reply to  Snarky
5 years ago

except in the 50’s

About Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh

Lauren Neidigh is a former NCAA swimmer at the University of Arizona (2013-2015) and the University of Florida (2011-2013). While her college swimming career left a bit to be desired, her Snapchat chin selfies and hot takes on Twitter do not disappoint. She's also a high school graduate of The …

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