2021 U.S. Open Championships Live Recap: Day 4 Finals

2021 US OPEN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Katie Ledecky will look to conclude her event schedule with a dominant performance in tonight’s 1500 free final. She’s the top seed by 31 seconds, and that’s with Ledecky’s entry time of 15:35.35, about 15 seconds slower than her own world record (15:20.48) from 2018. If she wins the 1500, she’ll have secured the 200-1500 freestyle sweep at the US Open.

One of her new Florida training partners, Bobby Finke, will also race this event and is the top seed (14:39.65) for the men. Finke was just off Connor Jaeger’s American Record (14:39.48) when he famously won this race in Tokyo. Ledecky and Finke won gold medals in both the 800 and 1500 freestyle events at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Regan Smith, who owns both the World and American Record, enters Saturday’s finals as the top seed in the 200 back. She’s already won the 100 back (58.69), and is also the top seed for tonight’s 200 fly (2:13.41). Smith is the defending Olympic silver medalist in the event, so all eyes will be on her tonight.

Leah Smith will also tackle the 200 back/200 fly double in the final session of the US Open.

14-year old Thomas Heilman qualified 14th out of prelims while setting the 13-14 NAG Record (51.12), and his 6th of the meet, however he dropped out of this race. He’ll race the 200 fly, which he also set a personal best in (2:01.95). With the schedule change, he has the opportunity to after Michael Phelps‘ 13-14 200 fly NAG, which stands at 1:59.02 from 2000.

In the 100 freestyles, Mallory Comerford is the top seed on the women’s side (55.1), while Louisville’s Andrej Barna (48.66) is the top seed on the men’s side. Gus Borges, who’s now training with Sergio Lopez and Pinnacle Racing, dropped a huge personal best this morning (49.34). Tate Jackson, who’s made a return to racing at this meet, cracked the 50-second barrier in prelims and is the 3rd seed for finals (49.89).

MEN’S 1500 FREE – FINAL

  • World Record – 14:31.02, Sun Yang, China (2012)
  • American Record – 14:39.48, Connor Jaeger, USA (2016)
  • US Open Championship Record – 14:55.46, Damien Joly, France (2017)

Top 8:

  1. Bobby Finke (FLOR) – 15:04.77
  2. Charlie Clark (OSU) – 15:07.53
  3. Trey Freeman (FLOR) – 15:24.83
  4. Will Gallant (NCS) – 15:26.60
  5. Eric Brown (PCSC) -15:32.54
  6. Brennan Gravley (FLOR) – 15:35.96
  7. Josh Parent (ABF) – 15:40.70
  8. Minseop Kim (KOR) – 15:42.10

Bobby Finke and Charlie Clark were even through the 1400, but Finke started to make his move around the final 125 meters. Finke split 56.2 (29.6/26.6) on the final 100 meters to surpass Clark with a 2 body-length lead by the time they’d hit the finish.

Finke held the race together with precision, hitting :30’s on every 50 except for the opening leg (27.68) and the final 3 50s, which were 29.9, 29.6, and 26.6. Notably, his last 50 (26.6) was a full second faster, further demonstrating Finke’s ability to close his races and run down his competitors at the end.

Finke had also won the 800 free (7:54.07) and 400 IM (4:17.39) in previous sessions.

WOMEN’S 1500 FREE – FINAL

Top 8:

  1. Katie Ledecky (UN-FLOR) – 15:45.32
  2. Sierra Schmidt (SAC) – 16:21.56
  3. Elise Bauer (FLOR) – 16:32.55
  4. Katrina Bellio (ESWI) – 16:42.05
  5. Kayla Han (RMDA) – 16:43.02
  6. Erin Gemmell (NCAP) – 16:46.94
  7. Chloe Kim (SCAR) – 16:55.42
  8. Blair Stoneburg (TCA) 16:56.05

Similar to Finke, Ledecky was extremely consistent with her mile splitting, holding between 31.3 and 31.8 throughout the race. Ledecky was able to close with a strong 30.29 on her final 50 meters.

When asked about her consistency with her splits, she stated “That’s what I train for, so I’m happy about that.”

Ledecky was the only athlete to swim the race under 16 minutes, with Sierra Schmidt was the next closest competitor (16:21.56).

Elise Bauer snagged the 3rd place finish from lane 1 and dropped over 7 seconds off her previous best time.

13 year-old Kayla Han (16:43.02) dropped another 9 seconds from her personal best, cracking a sub 16:50 for the 1st time.

WOMEN’S 200 BACK – FINAL

  • World Record – 2:03.35, Regan Smith, USA (2019)
  • American Record – 2:03.35, Regan Smith, USA (2019)
  • US Open Championship Record – 2:08.42, Hayley McGregory, USA (2008)

Top 8:

  1. Regan Smith (UN-PC) – 2:07.09
  2. Leah Smith (TXLA) – 2:11.26
  3. Julia Podkoscielny (PCS) – 2:12.42
  4. Rosie Zavaros (FLOR) – 2:12.83
  5. Summer Smith (TENN) – 2:13.16
  6. Aislin Farris (ABF) – 2:14.40
  7. Ella Varga (UCSC) – 2:14.57
  8. Emily Thompson (GSCY) – 2:15.62

Regan Smith led from start to finish and set a new US Open Championship Record (2:07.09). This shatters Haley McGregory’s previous Championship Record (2:08.42) from 2008.

“I was really pleased, I’ve been trying to play around with my (200 back) race strategy, trying to stay more relaxed in the front-end,” Smith commented about her race.

In prelims, Smith was out at the 100 in 1:04.38. Tonight, she took a more aggressive approach as she was out in a “relaxed” 1:02.13. She continued her consistency with a 32.2 split on the 3rd 50, and closed in 32.6.

Even after a stellar in-season 200 back, Smith is ready for the 200 fly later in the session.

“These are two of my best events, this double is tough, but I enjoy it. I’m going to go into this 200 fly and see what I can do.”

Leah Smith dropped a few tenths from her prelims swim, but has dropped over 4 seconds in the event at this meet. This marks Smith’s 2nd best time of the meet, after her 2:11 performance in the 200 IM on Friday.

MEN’s 200 BACK – FINAL

  • World Record – 1:51.92, Aaron Peirsol, USA (2009)
  • American Record – 1:51.92, Aaron Perisol, USA (2009)
  • US Open Championship Record – 1:54.59, Nick Thoman, USA (2009)

Top 8:

  1. Vaggelis Makrygiannis (UN-CA) – 2:00.48
  2. Baylor Nelson (MAC-NC) – 2:00.85
  3. Richie Stokes (UCSC) – 2:01.24
  4. Yeziel Morales (AZFL) – 2:01.29
  5. Caleb Maldari (MAC-NC) – 2:01.53
  6. Jack Aikins (UVA) – 2:02.42
  7. Hoe Yean Khiew (MAS) – 2:04.73

Vaggelis Makrygiannis and Baylor Nelson battled throughout the race, but it was Makrygiannis who got his hand to the wall 1st by out-splitting Nelson 29.9 to 30.5 on the last 50 meters. This was the only sub-30 final 50 meters in the final heat.

Makrygiannis has now swept the backstroke events at the US Open, as he won the 100 back (54.06) last night.

Nelson, who’s committed to swim at Texas A&M next fall, has dropped over 2 seconds (2:00.85) in this event on the day.

Blake Hanna (CATS) was disqualified out of lane 1.

WOMEN’S 100 FREE – FINAL

  • World Record – 51.71, Sarah Sjostrom, Sweden (2017)
  • American Record – 52.04, Simone Manuel, USA (2019)
  • US Open Championship Record – 53.42, Erika Brown, USA (2019)

Top 8:

  1. Mallory Comerford (CARD) – 54.74
  2. Arina Openysheva (UOFL) – 55.23
  3. Camille Spink (NCAP) – 55.44
  4. Julia Mrozinski (TENN) – 55.79
  5. Micayla Cronk (FLOR) – 55.86
  6. Talia Bates (FLOR) – 56.11
  7. Mrina Spadoni (UN-FL) – 56.44
  8. Ella Welch (CARD) – 56.90

Mallory Comerford successfully swept both the 50 and 100 free events in Greensboro and seems to be pleased with the progress she’s made.

“I wanted to be under :55 and see what I can do to be better than this morning.”

Comerford’s quick adjustments allowed her to drop 4 tenths from this morning. She was still out in 26.2, but closed much faster tonight (28.5 compared to 28.8) over the final 50 meters.

Comerford’s time tonight was only three-tenths short of her time from the Olympic Trials (54.43), where she just missed making the team by placing 14th out of the semifinals. In the Olympic Trials final, Allison Schmitt was the 6th athlete to make the team (54.12).

Comerford was a ways off her best time (52.29) from 2017, but she’s still content with her performances and is enjoying the process.

“I love being here, and I love racing, and it’s why I love to swim.”

MEN’S 100 FREE – FINAL

  • World Record – 46.91, Cesar Cielo, Brazil (2009)
  • American Record – 46.96, Caeleb Dressel, USA (2019)
  • US Open Championship Record – 47.69, Zach Apple, USA (2019)

Top 8:

  1. Andrej Barna (CARD) – 48.44
  2. Gus Borges (PRVT) – 49.40
  3. Tate Jackson (NTRO) – 49.52
  4. Brady Samuels (UN-IN) – 49.89
  5. Nikola Acin (UN-IN) – 50.18
  6. Eric Friese (FLOR) – 50.23
  7. Edouard Fullum-Huot (PCSC) – 50.87
  8. Minjoon Kim (KOR) – 50.90

Louisville’s Andrej Barna led from start-to-finish, winning the 100 free in a time of 48.44 (23.1/25.2).

Barna owns the Serbian national record in this event (47.94) and represented his home country at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

On the last 15 meters, Barna explained that he modified his race strategy based on this morning’s performance.

“I tried to build the 2nd 50 instead of blasting it off the wall, and it worked better than this morning.”

Rounding out the top 3 finishers, Gus Borges was just off his time from this morning, and Tate Jackson drops a few tenths from this morning.

WOMEN’S 200 BREAST – FINAL

  • World Record – 2:18.95, Tatjana Schoenmaker, South Africa (2021)
  • American Record – 2:19.59, Rebecca Soni, USA (2012)
  • US Open Championship Record – 2:22.00, Emily Escobedo, USA (2019)

Top 8:

  1. Ahryoung Kim (KOR) – 2:29.86
  2. Abby Hay (UOFL) – 2:30.51
  3. Tylor Mathieu (FLOR) – 2:32.73
  4. Grace Rainey (MAC-NC) – 2:33.21
  5. Karina Kanary (TXLA) – 2:33.77
  6. Sofia Plaza (MAC-NC) – 2:34.65
  7. Ella Smith (ABF) – 2:38.31
  8. Maia Hall (NEB) – 2:38.43

15-year old Kim Ahryoung had a quick first 50 meters in the prelims, taking the 200 out in 33.8. Tonight, she was out a little slower (34.2), but that strategy ended up playing out at the end.

It was Louisville’s Abby Hay that was leading at the 100 (1:12.23) and through the 150. However, Ahryoung showed great closing speed as she edged out Hay at the end (2:29.86) on the last 50 meters. Ahryoung’s last 3 50’s were between 38.1 and 38.8, while Hay split 39 on the last 50.

Hay clips her previous best time by a few tenths to take 2nd overall. Florida’s Tylor Mathieu moved up from 6th to 3rd and drops 2 seconds from her previous best time.

MEN’S 200 BREAST – FINAL

  • World Record – 2:06.12, Anton Chupkov, Russia (2019)
  • American Record – 2:07.17, Josh Prenot, USA (2016)
  • US Open Championship Record – 2:09.67, Cody Miller, USA (2019)

Top 8:

  1. Brandon Fischer (UN-PC) – 2:13.21
  2. Raphael Rached Windmuller (FLOR) – 2:15.92
  3. Marcus Mok (UN-IL) – 2:16.80
  4. Matthew Lucky (UN-NC) – 2:17.97
  5. Mattle Steele (UN-GA) – 2:18.69
  6. Ben Delmar (MAC-NC) – 2:19.74
  7. Matthew Kroll (MAC-NC) – 2:21.34
  8. Soo Hwan Park (KOR) – 2:22.40

The men’s 200 breaststroke featured a back-and-forth battle for the lead throughout the entire race.

After the 150 mark, Windmuller edged out in front of Mok, but it was 32-year old Fischer who had the best back-end and exploded past both Windmuller and Mok. Even with 5 teenagers in the field, Fischer was the only athlete to have a sub-1:10 final 100 meters, as he closed in 1:09.1 (34.3/34.7).

“You don’t want to go out too fast, so you just need to be patient,” Fischer explained when asked about his race. Tonight, Fischer was just off his personal best of 2:12.93.

WOMEN’S 200 FLY – FINAL

  • World Record – 2:01.81, Liu Zige, China (2009)
  • American Record – 2:04.14, Mary Mohler, USA (2009)
  • US Open Championship Record – 2:07.20, Susie O’Neill, Australia (1999)

Top 8:

  1. Regan Smith (UN-PC) – 2:10.58
  2. Leah Gingrich (HURR-GA) – 2:11.02
  3. Amanda Ray (FLOR) – 2:11.51
  4. Mabel Zavaros (FLOR) – 2:14.32*
  5. Eleanor Sun (NCAP) – 2:14.32*
  6. Ella Jansen (ESWI-US) – 2:15.22
  7. Summer Smith (TENN) – 2:15.51
  8. Leah Smith (TXLA) – 2:15.70

There were 3 Smiths featured in this final, with Regan Smith finishing on top. Smith successfully completed the 200 back/200 fly double, winning her 2nd event of the night in 2:10.58

When asked about her strategy,  Smith explained: ” (I wanted to) try my best not to die. I wanted to leave it all in the pool and do my best.”

However, Smith was nearly out-touched by 31-year old Leah Gingrich, who split 33.59 on the final 50. Regan maintained her splitting on the back-end (34.0/34.1), but explained that she was tired after a long event schedule. Leah Smith, who also completed the same double, finished 8th, just off her time from the prelims.

MEN’S 200 FLY – FINAL

  • World Record – 1:50.73, Kristof Milak, Hungary (2019)
  • American Record – 1:51.51, Michael Phelps, USA (2009)
  • US Open Championship Record – 1:55.60, Luca Urlando, USA (2019)

Top 8:

  1. Minseop Kim (KOR) – 1:59.30
  2. Junheon Hwangbo (KOR) – 1:59.33
  3. Thomas Heilman (CA-Y-VA) – 1:59.87
  4. Jace Crawford (FLOR) – 2:00.10
  5. Landon Gentry (NCAP) – 2:02.29
  6. Logan Zucker (MAC-NC) – 2:02.88
  7. Joaquin Gonzalez Pinero (FLOR) – 2:02.98
  8. Zach Ward (BKYS-OH) – 2:03.25

The last event of the US Open featured 3 athletes, all teenagers, break 2:00 in the 200 fly finals. All 3 of these athletes were more conservative on the front-end and were able to power through their last 100 meters.

Landon Gentry was out in a blazing 56.46, but fell apart on the last 50, splitting 34.14 and ended up 5th. Korea’s Minseop Kim and Junheon Hwangbo went 1-2 and were only separated by .03.

Thomas Heilman placed 3rd and nearly broke Michael Phelps‘ 13-14 NAG record (1:59.87), which stands at a 1:59.02 from 2000. However, Heilman turned in his 1st sub-2:00 performance and is now ranked as #2 all-time for his age group, only behind Phelps.

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Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

26.6 oh my god

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  Ledecky will go 3:55 in Paris
1 month ago

Charlie Clark gonna go to the bathroom tonight, and check behind his shoulder to see if Finke is surging

former D3 swimming prospect
1 month ago

26.6 lol

Speed racer
1 month ago

The mile results are for the heat not the event.

Calvin
1 month ago

He got Finked again lol

Troyy
Reply to  Calvin
1 month ago

Finke was already ahead at the final 50 this time.

swimfan210_
1 month ago

Regan Smith in really good form 58.6/2:07.0 with the 200 fly still to go

swimfan27
1 month ago

So close for Heilman. That is an insane time at 14 years old

swimfan27
Reply to  swimfan27
1 month ago

My money is on him now for Paris. 200 fly, perhaps both relays.

Joel Lin
Reply to  swimfan27
1 month ago

He’s still growing & is improving at a rapid rate. These are insane times for his age. He will be formidable in the next few years.

Joe
Reply to  swimfan27
1 month ago

Is there a Sportsbook to put money on Olympic futures?

Marklewis
Reply to  swimfan27
1 month ago

Thomas is a big strong boy. He looks stronger than Phelps or Andrew did at that age.

USA could use some help in the 200 butterfly.

ALEXANDER POP-OFF
1 month ago

I suspect that a number of Tokyo Olympic champions will not win their events at Worlds next year. It happens but I predict that it will be even more striking next year, esp. on the women’s side.

Joel
Reply to  Matthew Harder
1 month ago

2007 Worlds was in March or April I think

Corn Pop
Reply to  Joel
1 month ago

Yes Southern hemi but there was not a major meet in year prior. Also everyone had several years notice & no Covid restrictions . In 2021-22 , one cannot even plan preps eg lead up comps.

Im still baffled why the US team stayed in a completely different city ( Geelong) when Melbourne has multiple accom & pools . I can only guess they wanted to stop them going out on the town . Its a human right to enjoy oneself sometimes.

Fan
1 month ago

Correction – Brandon Fischer’s personal best is actually a 2:11.91 🙂

Another correction for Rowdy and NBC – He has competed since 2008 OT’s, not 2016. 🙂

Awesome article.