2021 US Open: Day 4 Prelims Live Recap

by Emma Edmund 1

December 04th, 2021 College, National, News, U.S. Open


The final day of the 2021 U.S. Open Championships will kick off at 10 a.m. E.T. The swimmers will round out their last morning of competition with the 200 back, 100 free, 200 breast, and 200 fly.

Regan Smith has the World and American records in the 200 back, but she has yet to steal Missy Franklin’s U.S. Open record from 2013, or Hayley McGregory’s meet record from 2008. This morning will be her first opportunity to go for it, and she’s seeded No. 1 with a time of 2:06.79. She’ll be racing in the same heat as powerhouse Leah Smith, who is currently seeded fifteenth. Smith will also compete later in the meet in the 200 fly, where her seed time is about four seconds faster than No. 2 Leah Gingrich. On the men’s side, Hunter Tapp has had a successful SCY season with NC State, dropping two seconds off his personal best in the 200 back during his school’s invite in late November. At this meet, he’s just under four seconds from the U.S. Open record.

Mallory ComerfordArina Openysheva, and Camille Spink — the top three winners from Thursday night’s 50 free — occupy three of the four top seeds for the 100 going into prelims. The men’s 100 free will also be an interesting race, marking the return of Tate Jackson, who was suspended for one month by the USADA due to testing positive for the presence of THC, but ultimately took a five-month break from swimming. Andrej Barna, who finished ninth in the event at Tokyo, is the race’s top seed.

Ahryoung Kim, who finished fourth in the 100 breast, has the top seed in the 200 breast. Brandon Fischer leads the men’s side, along with Noah Nichols and Cooper Van Der Laan.

Thomas Heilman, the 14-year-old who has already set five National Age Group records this meet, will also be competing in the 100 free and 200 fly.

Women’s 200 Back

  1. Regan Smith (UN-PC): 2:10.51
  2. Leah Smith (TXLA): 2:11.55
  3. Rosie Zavaros (FLOR): 2:13.34
  4. Summer Smith (TENN): 2:13.56
  5. Julia Podkoscielny (PCS): 2:13.87
  6. Aislin Farris (ABF): 2:14.23
  7. Emily Thompson (GSCY): 2:15.77
  8. Ella Varga (UCSC): 2:15.80

Regan Smith cruised to the first place spot heading into finals, splitting 1:04.38/1:06.13 on her two 100s. Leah Smith was just a few tenths behind her heading into the back half, but wasn’t able to keep up as fast a pace, finishing 1:06.84 on the second 100. Though she hasn’t swam the event in long course since June, this is Regan Smith‘s slowest time this year with the exception of a swim in January.

Notably absent from prelims was seventh-place seed Mabel Zavaros, who was missing from her lane along with Dylan Scholes.

Emily Thompson is the youngest top-8 finisher at just 15 years old, working her way up to the A final from a No. 13 seed time. She’s just off her best time of 2:15.36, which she swam over the summer at the 2021 Speedo Summer Championships East.

Men’s 200 Back

  1. Hunter Tapp (NCS): 1:58.74
  2. Richie Stokes (UCSC): 2:01.40
  3. Caleb Maldari (MAC): 2:01.91
  4. Baylor Nelson (MAC): 2:02.30
  5. Hoe Yean Khiew (MAS): 2:02.49
  6. Yeziel Morales (AZFL): 2:02.62
  7. Jack Aikins (UVA): 2:03.21
  8. Blake Hanna (CATS): 2:03.97


Hunter Tapp kept his No. 1 seed after prelims, but No. 2 Jack Aikins slipped to the seventh spot as swimmers like Baylor Nelson and Hoe Yean Khiew — who won first in the 200 IM and second in the 400 free, respectively — beat him in the third heat.

Nelson swam a personal best by .12, and earlier in the meet he became the tenth 17/18 swimmer to go sub-2:00 in the 200 IM. He swam his previous best time at the 2021 Pro Series in Richmond, and he will have the opportunity to lower his time further tonight. Nelson was the only one in the top 8 to improve on his seed time.

It’s Caleb Maldari, however, that takes the spot as the youngest swimmer in the top 8, at just 16.

Women’s 100 Free

  1. Mallory Comerford (CARD): 55.10
  2. (TIE) Arina Openysheva (UOFL) and Camille Spink (NCAP): 55.66
  3. Julia Mrozinski (TENN): 56.14
  4. Marina Spadoni (UN-FL): 56.21
  5. Ella Welch (CARD): 56.28
  6. Talia Bates (FLOR): 56.36
  7. Erin Gemmell (NCAP): 56.87

Mallory Comerford, Arina Openyshevaand Camille Spink, the top 50 free swimmers, are also the top 100 free swimmers heading into finals. Comerford won the 50, and she’ll have the opportunity to do so again in the 100. She split 26.21/28.89.

Comerford’s training partner at Louisville, Openysheva, and high schooler at Nation’s Capital, Spink, swam the same time, but it was Spink who was ahead at the 50 and Openysheva who came back on the back half to tie for second. Spink is the #5 recruit for the Class of 2023, and she’s committed to swim for Tennessee.

Gemmell, who also competed in the 400 and finished second behind Katie Ledecky, is just 16. She was seeded in the top 8, and she’ll stay there for finals. She’s also Spink’s teammate.

Men’s 100 Free

  1. Andrej Barna (CARD): 48.66
  2. Gus Borges (PRVT): 49.34
  3. Tate Jackson (NTRO): 49.89
  4. Nikola Acin (UN-IN): 50.11
  5. Eric Friese (FLOR): 50.25
  6. Edouard Fullum-Huot (PCSC): 50.41
  7. Brady Samuels (UN-IN): 50.51
  8. Minjoon Kim (KOR): 50.65

Tate Jackson‘s five-month break hasn’t seemed to hurt him, as he was one of three swimmers who swam under 50 seconds in this morning’s prelims. He bumped up from a No. 16 seed to No. 3. Making an even more dramatic jump was Gus Borges, who jumped from No. 17, with a time of 50.50, to second.

Andrej Barna kept his number one spot, and heads into finals less than a second away from the meet record, which is held by Zach Apple at 47.69.

Thomas Heilman, back at it again, broke the NAG in the 100 free. This is his sixth NAG just at this meet, having previously gone 5-for-5 in his other events. His time of 51.12 broke his own record, which was 51.20 and was set in 2020.

Women’s 200 Breast

  1. Ahryoung Kim (KOR): 2:30.44
  2. Abby Hay (UOFL): 2:31.11
  3. Karina Kanary (TXLA): 2:34.89
  4. Grace Rainey (MAC): 2:35.41
  5. Sofia Plaza (MAC): 2:36.20
  6. Taylor Mathieu (FLOR): 2:36.99
  7. Ella Smith (ABF): 2:38.14
  8. Maia Hall (NEB): 2:39.31

Ahryoung Kim kept her No. 1 spot, beating second-place Abby Hay by just one second. Hay is just a second off her best time, which she set at 2:30.87 during Wave I of Olympic Trials.

Five of the eight top finishers are under 18, including Ahryoung Kim, who is just 15. Karina Kanary is 16, Grace Rainey is 17, Sofia Plaza is 16, and Ella Smith is 17.

Men’s 200 Breast

  1. Brandon Fischer (UN-PC): 2:15.75
  2. Noah Nichols (UVA): 2:17.38
  3. Marcus Mok (UN-IL): 2:18.24
  4. Matt Steele (UN-GA): 2:18.46
  5. Raphael Rached Windmuller (FLOR): 2:18.75
  6. Matthew Lucky (UN-NC): 2:19.35
  7. Ben Delmar (MAC): 2:19.57
  8. Soo Hwan Park (KOR): 2:19.89

Brandon Fischer swam to first in 2:15.75 in a relatively slow prelims where most of the top 8 seeds added significantly to their seed time. His time is consistent with his 200 breast times from the spring of 2021, but he’s been much faster over the summer.

Matt Steele and Ben Delmar, however, both swam personal bests.

Noah Nichols also kept his spot, finishing second. Nichols and Fischer both swam in separate heats during prelims, so in finals they’ll have the opportunity to push each other closer to their personal bests.

Women’s 200 Fly

  1. Leah Gingrich (HURR): 2:12.79
  2. Amanda Ray (FLOR): 2:13.18
  3. Regan Smith (UN-PC): 2:13.41
  4. Mabel Zavaros (FLOR): 2:14.76
  5. Ella Jansen (ESWI): 2:14.80
  6. Summer Smith (TENN): 2:14.87
  7. Leah Smith (TXLA): 2:14.93
  8. Eleanor Sun (NCAP): 2:15.35

Regan Smith fell to No. 2 and 3 seeds Leah Gingrich and Amanda Ray in prelims today, swimming eight seconds off of her best time. She fell off on the last 100, splitting 1:03.30/1:10.11. It’s her slowest time of 2021.

Gingrich had a similar split, though not as drastic as Smith’s. Gingrich split 1:03.45/1:09.34, while Ray only had a four-second difference between her 100s.

Leah Smith worked her way off from the fifteenth seed to finish seventh. Her time of 2:14.93 is just off her entry time of 2:14.04. She’s closer to a personal best than any of the other top-8 swimmers.

Ella Jansen and Eleanor Sun are both 16 years old, and both finished in the top 8. The final will have a 15-year age gap between the youngest and oldest swimmers.

Men’s 200 Fly

  1. Minseop Kim (KOR): 2:00.74
  2. Junheon Hwangbo (KOR): 2:00.91
  3. Landon Gentry (NCAP): 2:01.94
  4. Thomas Heilman (CA-Y): 2:01.95
  5. Jace Crawford (FLOR): 2:02.87
  6. Zach Ward (BKYS): 2:03.56
  7. Logan Zucker (MAC): 2:04.03
  8. Joaquin Gonzalez Pinero (FLOR): 2:04.49

Two Korean National Team members will be leading the finals tonight, part of the rise of Korean youth swimmers over the past two years. On Friday night, Minseop Kim finished fourth in the 400 IM.

The top four swimmers are all 17 or under. Every single top-8 finisher is under 20 years old. Thomas Heilman, perhaps the most successful young swimmer at this meet, just missed the NAG set by Michael Phelps in 2000 at 1:59.02. He’ll have the opportunity to try for it again tonight, to go 7-for-7 in National Age Group records at this meet. He did swim a personal best, dropping .30 from his previous time.

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2 years ago

Was looking for any sign of Mallory Comerford’s improvement. She still has speed (26.2 on the way out), but 28.89 for the second half is too much. On the other hand she was well ahead of the crowd in her race so there was no need to try harder. Let’s see what she shows tonight in final. I like this swimmer and it’s too sad if her peak happened between Olympics.