2022 U.S. WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TRIALS
- April 26-30, 2022
- Greensboro, NC
- Greensboro Aquatic Center
- LCM (50m)
- Start Times: Prelims – 9 am ET / Finals – 6 pm ET
- Worlds Qualifying Criteria
- SwimSwam Preview Index
- SwimSwam Pick ‘Em Contest
- How To Watch
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheets
- Live Results
WOMEN’S 200 FREE
- World Record – Federica Pelligrini, 1:52.98 (2009)
- American Record – Allison Schmitt, 1:53.61 (2012)
- U.S. Open Record- Allison Schmitt (2018) / Katie Ledecky (2021), 1:54.40
- 2021 Olympic Trials Champion- Katie Ledecky, 1:55.11
- FINA ‘A’ Cut- 1:58.66
Last summer in Tokyo, the American women swam an incredible race to grab silver in the 4×200 free relay in a time of 7:40.73, going under the existing world record as China swam the fastest time ever for gold. However, three out of the six swimmers that were selected to swim the relay last year (Allison Schmitt, Katie McLaughlin, Brooke Forde) will not be swimming in this year’s U.S. trials. Because of this, the women’s 200 in Greensboro this week will be wide open for new swimmers to make the team.
It seems like for every 200/400/800/1500 free article, the distance GOAT needs an entire section to herself because she’s just that dominant. For Katie Ledecky, making the worlds team in the 200 free isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of how.
By Ledecky’s standards, her performance in this event was a bit of a disappointment last year. Coming in as the 2016 Olympic champion, she finished 5th in Tokyo Olympics with a time of 1:55.21 to miss the podium in an international meet for the first time in her career. To rub more salt into the wound, she went faster at the 2021 Olympic Trials and at a TYR Pro Swim Series meet last April. However, Ledecky came back a day later to drop a scorching 1:53.76 anchor split on Team USA’s 4×200 free relay, leaving us wondering if she can get back into the 1:53 range once more.
After the Olympics, Ledecky moved from her college training base of Stanford to train under Anthony Nesty at the University of Florida with the likes of Kieran Smith and Bobby Finke, two of the best men’s mid-distance and distance freestylers in the country.
Ledecky’s best time since her move to Gainesville is a 1:54.66 from an Orlando sectionals meet in February. And while that time is faster than what she went at the Olympics, she has consistently had the problem of going super fast in-season and not being able to drop at big meets. It will be interesting to see whether her new training base will be able to change the way she tapers coming into trials and worlds this year.
….and The Battle Behind Her
We all know Ledecky is the obvious favorite to win this race. But the fight for the spots behind her is where things start to get interesting.
Paige Madden finished third at trials last year with a personal best time of 1:56.44, and split 1:55.25 in Tokyo on the 4×200 relay, the second-fastest of the Americans. She posted a very respectable in-season time of 1:57.12 at the San Antonio Pro Swim Series stop and is seeded second on the psych sheet. She won her first individual international medal at the 2021 Short Course World Championships when she placed third in the 200 free in1:53.01, and is the favorite to finish second behind Ledecky and race this event individually at an international meet for the first time.
Smith topped the prelims at the 2021 trials in 1:57.52, but added in finals to finish eighth (her prelims time would have been fifth in finals). Having recently moved to Texas to train under Carol Capitani, she’s been 1:58 a few times in-season but is still a ways from her lifetime best of 1:55.97 from 2017.
Margalis also switched training locations, going from Georgia’s pro group to train at Georgia Tech. She is seeded 13th with the 1:58.75 time that she swam last May, but has been as fast as 1:56.84. She isn’t entered in the 400 IM, her best event, so the 200 free might be her best chance of obtaining a Worlds berth.
Georgia alumni and ASU training partners Hali Flickinger and Olivia Smoliga are also ones to watch. Flickinger has been on fire recently, posting very strong times in her core events of the 200 fly and 400 IM. She’s seeded 10th and has only swum the event once this year, clocking a 1:58.90 at the San Antonio Pro series, but look to see her crack top 8 if she carries the same momentum she had in-season into trials. Smoliga is seeded third, holding a best time of 1:57.04 from May 2021. This year, she has yet to break two minutes, holding a season-best of 2:01.48. She didn’t swim this event at trials last year, so if she swims it this year and doesn’t scratch, it will mark her first time swimming it at a major taper meet. The 200 free falls on the same day as the 200 back, another event she is entered in, but given the competition in American women’s backstroke, it might be safer for her to pick the freestyle event.
Michigan pro Gabby DeLoof is seeded seventh with a 1:57.86, which was exactly how she placed at trials last year in this event to just miss the Olympic team. Like Smoliga, she has yet to break two minutes this season, but if she goes a near best time, it will be good enough to finish top 8.
Sixteen-year-old Bella Sims comes in as the fifth seed. She set a best time of 1:57.53 at Olympic trials last year to qualify and then proceeded to lead off USA’s 4×200 free relay in the prelims of the Olympics with a time of 1:58.59. Sims is coming off of a strong yards season in which she swam the top time in the country in the 500 free (faster than anyone at the NCAA championships), and is looking to carry that success over into meters. Her Sandpipers of Nevada teammates, Katie Grimes and Claire Weinstein, are also entered in this event, but both of them are stronger in the longer distance races.
Another swimmer who shouldn’t be ignored is 17-year-old Erin Gemmell of the Nation’s Capital Swim Club. She is the daughter of Ledecky’s former coach, Bruce Gemmell, and goes to the same high school that Ledecky graduated from, Stone Ridge High School. She’s seen rapid improvements in her 200 free, recently clocking a 1:57.41 at the Indianapolis Speedo Sectionals. That time ranks her fifth all-time in the 17-18 age group, and is a drop of nearly a second from her previous best tie. Gemmell is currently seeded third on the psych sheets, and looks to carry on Ledecky’s legacy by gaining a spot on the Worlds team.
Stanford swimmer Torri Huske finished 11th at the Olympic trials last year with a time of 1:59.27, but was over a second faster last April when she swam her personal best time of 1:58.09 which has her seeded eighth. She recently broke 1:42 in yards for the first time leading off of Stanford’s NCAA-winning 800 free relay, clocking a time of 1:41.93. Another NCAA star, UVA’s Alex Walsh, is entered as the 33th seed. Walsh hasn’t swam the 200 free long course at a major meet since 2018 Junior Pan Pacs, when she went a 2:00.79 that still stands as her best time. She won an ACC title in the 200 yard free with a time of 1:42.28 and split 1:41.63 on UVA’s 800 free relay at the same meet, but did not swim the event at NCAAs. That being said, given how well her college season went, we could potentially see her drop a lot of time this week. Walsh’s teammate Emma Weyant finished 19th at trials with a 2:00.30, but holds a best time of 1:58.10 from 2018 when she was in high school.
Top 8 Picks
|Place||Swimmer||Season Best||Lifetime Best|
|6||Torri Huske||N/A (1:41.93 – SCY)||1:58.09|
|7||Alex Walsh||N/A (1:42.28 – SCY)||2:00.79|
Dark Horse: Anna Moesch – The 16-year-old dropped massive amounts of time in this event this season in yards, going from a 1:51.21 to a 1:44.10. Although she swam at Olympic trials last year, she didn’t swim the 200 free in particular, meaning we could be due for a big drop from her in meters. She is currently seeded 36th, and holds a long course best time of 2:03.17.