2021 US Open: Day 2 Finals Live Recap

by Emma Edmund 53

December 02nd, 2021 National, News, Previews & Recaps


Distance stars once again headline tonight’s finals session, with Olympic gold medalists Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke both set to race in the 400 free.

Ledecky cruised to the top spot this morning at 4:01.64, turning in a 58.70 final 100. Her championship heat will include three 16-year-olds, including Erin Gemmell. Finke, the Olympic Champion in the 800 and 1500, was the No. 3 seed at 3:56.27 on the men’s side, with Trey Freeman leading the way at 3:50.53.

Leah Smith, also known for his distance prowess, is the top seed in the women’s 200 IM at 2:12.92 — a new lifetime best shortly after moving her training base to the University of Texas.

Finally, the 50 frees will see veterans Mallory Comerford, Madison Kennedy, and meet record holder Bruno Fratus race. Comerford was the top qualifier at 25.37 in prelims, while Kennedy clocked in fourth at 25.73; Fratus was fourth on the men’s side at 22.58.

Women’s 400 Free Final

  • World: 3:56.46, Katie Ledecky (2016)
  • American: 3:56.46, Katie Ledecky (2016)
  • US Open Meet: 4:00.81, Katie Ledecky (2019)

Katie Ledecky did it again. After pulling out a body length ahead by the end of the first 100, Ledecky won the event in 4:00.51, breaking her own U.S. Open meet record from 2019. She finished with a sub-1:00 time, mimicking her speed from prelims when she swam the last 100 in 58.70.

Yesterday, Ledecky won the 800 free in 8:12.81, also setting a new meet record in that event.

Ledecky finished ten seconds ahead of second-place Erin Gemmell, who finished in 4:10.12. Gemmell is just 16 years old. Sierra Schmidt and Katrina Bellio took third and fourth, respectively, with Schmidt finishing in 4:12.53 and Bellio just .20 behind her at 4:12.73.

Schmidt also made the podium in the 800, finishing third in that event.

Ledecky’s Splits

Men’s 400 Free Final

  • World: Paul Biedermann (2009)
  • American: 3:42.78, Larsen Jensen (2008)
  • US Open Meet: 3:45.63, Zane Grothe (2016)

Trey Freeman, who was top seed going into the event, and Hoe Yean Khiew, the Malaysian champion in the 400 free, both led the event neck-and-neck at the halfway point. But it was Freeman who took the win, swimming 3:49.06 to best Khiew’s 3:50.52.

Bobby Finke is known for his closing speed, but it wasn’t enough to get him to catch up. His 27-second last 50 allowed him to pass Charlie Clark to take third at 3:51.44.

Freeman’s Splits

Women’s 200 IM Final

  • World: 2:06.12, Katinka Hosszu (2015)
  • American: 2:06.15, Ariana Kukors (2009)
  • US Open Meet: 2:08.84, Melanie Margalis (2019)

Leah Smith went out with a 28.23 butterfly leg, and after losing her edge to Summer Smith in the backstroke, she quickly regained it in the breaststroke, splitting 39.14.

Leah Smith finished in 2:11.67, winning gold and improving on her personal best of 2:12.92, set at the prelims. That time would’ve won her seventh at the Tokyo Olympics.

Summer Smith took second with 2:15.02, holding off third-place Abby Hay, who finished in 2:15.45.

Men’s 200 IM Final

  • World: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte (2011)
  • American: 1:54.00, Ryan Lochte (2011)
  • US Open Meet: 1:57.28, Chase T Kalisz (2019)

Eighteen-year-old Baylor Nelson led by a body length by the end of the backstroke, ultimately finishing first at 1:59.86, becoming only the tenth person in the 17/18 age group to ever finish sub-2:00.

Nelson beat his best time of 2:01.08 and became the ninth-fastest 17/18 swimmer of all time.

Nelson’s Splits

Collyn Gagne finished second at 2:02.59, and Joaquin Gonzalez Pinero finished third at 2:04.49.

Women’s 50 Free Final

  • World: 23.67, Sarah Sjostrom (2017)
  • American: 23.97, Simone Manuel (2017)
  • US Open Meet: 24.43, Simone Manuel (2019)

Mallory Comerford finished first in 25.24 — her fastest 50 free since June 2019. Arina Openysheva finished second in 25.33, and Camille Spink finished third in 25.36. All three finished faster than Comerford’s prelims top time of 25.37. Seven of the eight championship finalists were under 26, with NCAP’s Tatum Wall finishing eighth at 26.05.

Men’s 50 Free Final

  • World: 20.91, Cesar Cielo (2009)
  • American: 21.04, Caeleb Dressel (2019, 2021)
  • US Open Meet: 21.59, Bruno G Fratus (2019)

Veteran (and meet record-holder) Bruno Fratus got it done in the men’s 50, winning the close event in 22.36. Florida’s Adam Chaney was just .01 behind at 22.37, while Serbian Andrej Barna was third in 22.43. Chaney’s been as fast as 22.00, while the 32-year-old Fratus, the Tokyo bronze medalist in the event, owns a 21.27.

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Go, Summer, go!
8 months ago

It’s nice to see that 2 girls in US open women’s 400 free final are from Etobicoke Swimming, Canada! The same swim club as Summer Mcintosh!

8 months ago

Leah Smith has one of the most unusual techniques I have ever seen. It’s very efficient and it’s really high tempo, which is something rare from a distance freestyler!

8 months ago

Looking forward to a monster 400 IM for Leah Smith. So excited to see her bounce back.

8 months ago

Ledecky has 21 races under 4minutes. So we can assume that she knows what the best her strategy in this race is. But you can hardly find if at all two similarly looking splits. And despite her 3:56 personal best the 4min result isn’t still a walk-in-the-park.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Yozhik
8 months ago

Ledecky has bunched results. She is always very good even in prelims. But these days that leads to bloated expectation regarding upside. Once she looks very smooth in prelims or run of the mill meets it sparks projections of return to 2016 form or thereabouts. That’s not going to happen. I guarantee the 4:01 prelim had commenters here thinking 3:58 in the final. We’ll see the same trend going forward.

Philip Johnson
8 months ago

Ledecky could be at home chilling, basking in her Olympic medals but she’s out there crushing it. Ledecky is such a legend.

Reply to  Philip Johnson
8 months ago

Titmus will be back racing in about a week too. It’ll be interesting to see where she’s at after such a long break.

Reply to  Troyy
8 months ago

Titmus was very careful or not interested in great times this April at nationals. So there were a lot of speculations (Australian posters) if she would be able at all to go under 3:59 or even 4:00
She skipped then a big meet in May. And then BOOM!!! 1:53.09 and 3:56.9 at trials.
She keeps her cards close. I don’t think there would be a virtual in-season competition between Ledecky and Titmus. They both are too strong to play intimidation games during the training period.

Last edited 8 months ago by Yozhik
Reply to  Yozhik
8 months ago

Titmus also had some shoulder issues, so that could be the reason.

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Miranda
8 months ago

It was the reason. The shoulder issues were worse than advertised. Titmus said after Tokyo that she lost so much time due to the shoulder that she didn’t regain belief in defeating Ledecky until posting those times in Australian trials.

8 months ago

I really hope Comerford can find her form again. Still the second fastest American ever in the 100, and if she gets close to her best times in the 100 & 200 she’ll make some international teams.

Reply to  oxyswim
8 months ago

Where is she training these days? Is she still training at Louisville?

8 months ago

How are you born in 2007 and go 22.95?

Reply to  Swimmer
8 months ago

I’m still trying to wrap my mind around the reality that kids born in 2007 are out of kindergarten and one of them is going 22.95. 🤯

8 months ago

new nag record for heilman 22.95