2022 U.S. Trials Previews: Smith Returns For Redemption In Women’s 200 Back


Women’s 200 Back

  • World Record: 2:03.35, Regan Smith (USA) – 2019
  • American Record: 2:03.35, Regan Smith – 2019
  • US Open Record: 2:05.68, Missy Franklin (USA) – 2013
  • 2019 World Champion: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.69
  • FINA ‘A’ Standard: 2:11.08

One of the biggest shocks and upsets at last year’s Olympic Trials could be considered to have been in the women’s 200 backstroke, but don’t expect things to pan out the same way here.

Regan Smith is the world record holder in the event after going a 2:03.35 back at the 2019 World Championships, having roared to a dominant gold medal victory in Gwangju by more than two and a half seconds.

Although Smith may have missed the Olympic team in this event last year, she still had a very strong showing in Tokyo, earning a silver medal in the 200 butterfly and bronze in the 100 backstroke. She had a perfect dual meet record as a freshman at Stanford and had a solid showing at NCAAs where she won the yards version of the 200 backstroke and then had a quick turnaround to tie for second in the 200 butterfly. She had a very consistent season, the biggest question mark here is how well she will adapt and fit in her first long course taper in such a tight turnaround (but many of her competitors are in the same boat).

Phoebe Bacon was second at the Olympic Trials last year (2:06.49) before finishing 5th at the Olympics in a 2:06.40. Bacon had a solid sophomore year at Wisconsin highlighted by a second place finish (behind Smith) in the 200 backstroke at NCAAs. She has competed in the 200 backstroke LCM once this season in San Antonio where she finished second in a 2:09.52 behind Rhyan White.

White was the other Olympian in this event last year as she won the event at Trials in 2:05.73. She went on to finish fourth at the Olympics in 2:06.39, and followed up by claiming gold in the event at the Short Course World Championships in a time of 2:01.58. The University of Alabama swimmer has contested the LCM 200 backstroke at one meet this season, clocking a very strong 2:07.92 at San Antonio.

Isabelle Stadden was fourth at last year’s Olympic Trials in a 2:07.86. Stadden had a solid year at Cal and dropped 0.21 off of her 200 yards backstroke best time to finish fourth at NCAAs in a 1:49.45. Like White, Stadden represented the US at Short Course Worlds where she finished third in the 200 SCM backstroke, touching in a time of 2:02.20.

Claire Curzan has entered a whopping seven events in Greensboro, including both the 200 backstroke and 50 butterfly, which come back-to-back on Day 2. Curzan has the fastest time in the US this year in the 200 back, recording a time of 2:07.31 in her win at Westmont Pro Swim. That was a huge best time for her, as prior to that meet she was a 2:10.16 back in summer of 2019.

Given that there’s only one selection spot up for grabs in the 50 fly, and Curzan is no stranger to doubles, we’re betting she takes on this race next week, especially if she already has a World Championship slot solidified after the opening day of competition in the 100 freestyle.

Reilly Tiltmann entered Virginia mid-way through the 2020-2021 school year and made great improvements upon her best times this year. She dropped over a second with a 1:50.66 to a 1:49.63 from last year to this year’s NCAAs. She didn’t swim this event last year at Wave I Trials, but went on to swim it at Wisconsin’s State Championships last July where she went a 2:12.84. If she is able to continue her improvements from NCAAs, she has a solid shot at making the A final here.

Olivia Smoliga made the Olympic team last year as a member of the 400 freestyle relay. She raced this event at the Pro Swim in Westmont where she finished behind Curzan in a time of 2:09.35. That was her fastest 200 backstroke since 2018 where she went a best time of 2:08.58.

Smoliga has entered six events at Trials, including the 200 freestyle, which falls on the same day as the 200 back. While neither race is Smoliga’s specialty (50/100 back), she may opt for the 200 free given that the path to a World Championship berth is much clearer there.

Jo Jo Ramey, only a junior in high school, was 7th at the Olympic Trials last year in a time of 2:09.90, though she was a full second faster in the semis (2:08.90). She is still training at home which may be nice to hit the proper taper. She represented Team USA at the World Cups in the fall and had a nice second place finish in the SCM 200 backstroke with a time of 2:04.41. She went a 2:12.07 at Sectionals in March.

15-year-old Teagan O’Dell had a huge drop in this event at Summer Juniors –  West last August, clocking 2:09.57 to move into second all-time in the girls’ 13-14 age group. She brought her SCY best down to 1:53.2 in December and has already gotten five LC swims under her belt this season.

Other names in contention for a top-eight finish include the Tennessee duo of Summer Smith and Josephine Fuller, and Phoenix Swim Club’s Kennedy Noble. Smith hit a PB of 2:10.31 at the Olympic Trials last year, while Fuller and Noble both hold bests in the 2:11 range.

17-year-old Kiley Wilhelm is another name to watch out for, though it may be a year or two before she’s contending for a top-five position at this level.


Place Swimmer Season-Best Lifetime Best
1 Regan Smith 2:07.43 2:03.35
2 Phoebe Bacon 2:09.52 2:06.40
3 Rhyan White 2:07.92 2:05.73
4 Claire Curzan 2:07.31 2:07.31
5 Isabelle Stadden N/A 2:07.28
6 Jo Jo Ramey 2:12.07 2:08.90
7 Teagan O’Dell 2:14.31 2:09.57
8 Reilly Tiltmann N/A 2:12.84

Darkhorse: Maggie Wanezek Wanezek is only a sophomore in high school but has a best time of 2:11.56 from 2021 Summer Juniors. She dropped over a second in the yards 200 backstroke from last season to this season and if she repeats that here, she could slip into the A final.

Keep up to date with all of SwimSwam’s previews for the meet with our official preview index here.

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Bobo Gigi
7 months ago

Open race.
Teagan O’Dell will be in 2.05 in the next two years. She reminds me a little bit of Missy Franklin.

Pacific Whirl
7 months ago

Smith and Curzan

Sherry Smit
7 months ago

1. Regan Smith
2. Rhyan White
3. Phoebe Bacon
4. Claire Curzan
5. Isabelle Stadden
6. JoJo Ramey
7. Tegan O’dell
8. Summer Smith

Dark Horse: Katie Grimes

Reply to  Sherry Smit
7 months ago

I know curzan is entered in this but I do think she is going to scratch this.

Negative Nora (they/them)
7 months ago

Curzan top 2 if she swims it.

Caeleb Remel Cultist
Reply to  Negative Nora (they/them)
7 months ago

If I was in her place, I will focus on the 50 fly instead.

Swimming 2*200 backs at trials will impact her future events and if she makes the team in it, she needs to swim 3*200s at worlds where she has no chance to medal. (Kaylee, Masse, Smith)

Whereas in the 50 fly, the second spot behind Sjöström is wide open.

Look what happened to Huske last year at trials, she swam 3*200 IMs and 2*200s frees (where she had no chance) and that impacted her 100 free and 50 free later on.

Youngsters like Curzan and Huske need to learn how to manage their energy and focus on events where their have a chance to medal individually… Read more »

Reply to  Caeleb Remel Cultist
7 months ago

I tried to dislike your comment several times, but unfortunately SwimSwam wouldn’t let me.

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Caeleb Remel Cultist
7 months ago

This sounds exactly like a Bobo Gigi comment.

Bobo Gigi
Reply to  Samuel Huntington
7 months ago

I take that as a compliment.
But I’ve no idea if he was sarcastic. 😆
And I don’t care if that’s the case.
What I’m saying is common sense. The goal is not to compete in the most events possible; The goal is to perform the best possible. I still think that it’s better to be great at one or two events than staying good at 5 or 6 events. Maximizing chances of medals and especially gold medals should be the priority.

Reply to  Bobo Gigi
7 months ago

These young females can swim multiple events in a day and swim very fast in both events. Claire is a perfect example of this. Her 100 fly is her best event but she has a handful of others she could make the team in. My guess is she’s going to swim a bunch of events because she wants to, she has a chance of making the team in all of them, and multiple events in 1 day don’t fatigue her as much as you think they would.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
7 months ago

Agree. And some people do better when all the eggs aren’t in the same basket.

About Anya Pelshaw

Anya Pelshaw

Anya has been with SwimSwam since June 2021 as both a writer and social media coordinator. She was in attendance at the 2022 Women's NCAA Championships writing and doing social media for SwimSwam. Currently, Anya is pursuing her B.A. in Government & Law and Economics at Lafayette College. There she is …

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