2017 U.S. Worlds Trials Preview: Meili Flipping the Script in 200 BR

Find links to all of our event-by-event previews here.


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

Katie Meili is the fastest American in 2017 for the 200 breast by over two seconds with her 2:23.18 statement swim from the Arena PSS Atlanta. Meili has been swimming very well this spring, including a 1:05 already under her belt in the 100, and she’s looking great going into Trials in both breaststrokes. She first broke through the 2:30 barrier in this event in 2015, then brought her best time all the way down to a 2:23.69 in 2016, which she did at the Arena PSS Austin in January of 2016.

Meili really tanked this race in prelims at Olympic Trials last year. She had already made the Olympic team in the 100 breast, but her time of 2:30.66 was a second and a half out of making the semifinals, and very off form for her. In Indianapolis, the 200 breast is day 2, the 50 breast day 3, and the 100 breast day 4 for Meili, assuming she swims all three. This isn’t to say that event order was definitely the reason for her 2:30 in Omaha, but having the event first might yield different results than we saw last year. All Meili really has to do is match her time from Atlanta– last year, a 2:24 won in Omaha.

Madisyn Cox (photo: Tim Binning)

Melanie Margalis and Madisyn Cox have both been 2:25 this spring– for Cox, that was a lifetime best, done at the Arena PSS Santa Clara. Both women have told SwimSwam that they have yet to decide on their full event schedule, and both are strong 200 freestylers, an event that comes right before the 200 breast on Day 2 in Indy. It would be more likely for Margalis to focus instead on the 200 free rather than Cox, as Margalis made the 2016 Olympic team for the 4×200 free relay with a sixth place finish in Omaha, while Cox didn’t swim the race at that meet. We’ll have them in our top 8, but there’s definitely the possibility that one or both drop out of the event when their schedules are finalized.

2016 OT champion Lilly King hasn’t been a slouch this season, with a 2:25 under her belt as well. She was 2:24.03 at Trials, which still stands as her best time, and she’s been 2:24 five different times over the last couple seasons. King will be vying for a spot with likely competitor Molly Hannis. The runner-up last year in Omaha, Hannis has been 2:28.20 this spring. That isn’t a great time– she was 2:25 in March before Trials last year. She has been swimming well in the 50 and 100, but it doesn’t seem as though she’s a solid candidate for a top spot in Indy right now. But keep an eye on her regardless to see if she repeats her unique strategy of skipping her final underwater pullout – that unorthodox move ended up sparking the best closing 50 in the Olympic Trials field for Hannis last summer.

Meanwhile, UMBC standout Emily Escobedo‘s 2:26.04 best time from the Santa Clara PSS meet sits right behind King in this season’s ranks.

Bethany Galat (photo: Tim Binning)

3rd place finisher in Omaha, Bethany Galat, has been 2:28.61 in 2017 at the Texas Senior Circuit meet a few weeks ago. Before everyone grabs their pitchforks and torches when we place her highly here– Galat was 2:33 at the 2016 Pro Swim Series Austin meet, the one where she went 2:30.0 this year. Additionally, the only time she’s ever broken 2:30 at a non-champ meet prior to this season was at the 2015 Art Adamson Invitational (2:29.42). Galat is a big-time taper swimmer, and she had an outstanding NCAA meet this March. Look for her to place well in Indy, if not surprise to knock off a big gun for a Worlds spot.

Breeja Larson should make a bid for a spot in the finals in this event. She’s been 2:27.09 for the 6th best time by an American this year, and while we haven’t seen the speed that she showed in her prime, she still has the talent and experience to put up a strong time in Indy. Larson will have to fight off some younger competitors, though. Miranda TuckerMargaret Aroesty, and Riley Scott have all been in the 2:27-2:28 range this spring.

Meanwhile, 2016 Jr Pan Pac 200 breast gold medalist Zoe Bartel will look to improve upon her 2:25.46 best time. Any serious improvement from the teenager could be significant– if she takes just a second or a bit more off of her best, that could be enough to secure a Worlds spot. This is one of the weakest events for the U.S. women in terms of worldwide competition, and it won’t take a top world-ranking time to make the American team for Budapest.


1 Katie Meili 2:23.18 2:23.8
2 Lilly King 2:24.03 2:24.2
3 Madisyn Cox 2:25.62 2:24.3
4 Bethany Galat 2:24.34 2:24.3
5 Emily Escobedo 2:26.04 2:24.8
6 Melanie Margalis 2:24.68 2:25.8
7 Molly Hannis 2:24.39 2:26.6
8 Zoe Bartel 2:25.46 2:26.8

Dark horse: Vanessa Pearl, Metroplex Aquatics. A recent University of Florida commit, Pearl quietly went 2:29.43 at the Atlanta Classic in May, nearly going a best time. She broke 2:10 in yards for the first time in March, going well under that mark (2:08.51) for a two-plus second drop from her previous best. If she can take her best down to a 2:27-low, she could sneak into the final.

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5 years ago

I honestly don’t really care who wins, but I’d like to see at least 2 sub 2:24s

Tea rex
5 years ago

We need a kick starter campaign to bring Rebecca Soni out of retirement. This event has not been the same without her.

Reply to  Tea rex
5 years ago

She still looks pretty fit on her social media. I wouldn’t put it past her to give these girls a run.

5 years ago

Larson could pop up a 2:24 for second behind Meili for real… I think she could do it with Lawrence gone and King isn’t strong at 200. Also, Cox could do something special, who knows. This event is wide open now.

5 years ago

C’mon Bethany…Mishawaka Mamacita…get top two, Boo! You’ve got fans out here

5 years ago

Meili worthy competitor, but too much credit given to mouth from Indiana.

5 years ago

my concern with Meilli in this event is that she has to have 3 solid 200’s …she can be a little up and down in this event

5 years ago

King and Larson. The case I’ll try to make for Larson over Meili/Hannis is that she’s swimming like it’s 2012 again. Breeja’s in season 2:07,9 (SCM) and 2:04,7 (SCY) are indications that she’s at least as fast as she was in 2012 (let’s call that her prime). At 24 (or 25) she’s still in her prime and seems to be taking a serious run at this.

Reply to  Marley09
5 years ago

2:17,9 (scm) i meant. Still good.

Reply to  Marley09
5 years ago

trying to talk yourself in to thinking she will make it. short course and long course are not the same. even in 2012, her 200 breast wouldn’t stack up today.

5 years ago

Galat broke 2:30 at the Texas Senior Circuit meet with a 2:28.80

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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