2022 U.S. Trials Previews: Walsh-Douglass Duo Primed To Prevail Again In 200 IM

2022 PHILLIPS 66 INTERNATIONAL TEAM TRIALS

  • April 26 to 30, 2022
  • Greensboro Aquatic Center (Greensboro, North Carolina)
  • Long Course Meters (50m)
  • Psych Sheets
  • Live Results

By The Numbers:

  • World Record – Katinka Hosszu, 2:06.12 (2015)
  • American Record – Ariana Kukors, 2:06.15 (2009)
  • U.S. Open Record- Kathleen Baker, 2:08.32 (2018)
  • 2021 Olympic Trials Champion- Alex Walsh, 2:09.30
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut- 2:12.98

At the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials, the top three in the women’s 200 IM were just .04 of a second apart, with Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass going 1-2 to make the Olympic team by a hair. However, the two dropped significant amounts of time from trials, which culminated in them taking the silver and bronze medals at the Tokyo games and being established as world-class in the event. 

The Favorites

Walsh and Douglass’s Olympics performances, as well as a dominant NCAA showcasing in which they combined for six individual titles and four American records, make the Virginia duo the favorites to replicate their Olympic trials finish and qualify for World Championships this year.

Alex Walsh, the reigning Olympic silver medalist, has established herself as America’s top IMer in the course of a year. She holds a best time of 2:08.65 from Tokyo, where she was just 0.13 seconds short of becoming an Olympic champion. Recently, she added another honor to her resume when she broke Ella Eastin’s NCAA, US Open, and American record in the 200-yard IM with a time of 1:50.08 to win a national title. 

We’ve only seen Walsh swim the event in long course once this year, when she went 2:11.96 at an intrasquad meet last week, hence why possibilities for how she will perform at trials are endless. As the fourth-fastest American woman in the long course version of the event, Walsh just needs to drop a few more tenths to take down Kathleen Baker’s U.S. Open record of 2:08.32.

Walsh’s college teammate, Kate Douglass, isn’t too shabby either. Douglass famously ran down Madisyn Cox in the final 50 meters of the 200 IM to finish second at U.S. trials, and then did the same thing at the Olympics to snatch the bronze medal from Abbie Wood. Since then, she has also won herself a bronze medal at the 2021 Short Course World Championships, although her time of 2:04.24 (short course meters) from prelims would have been fast enough to win gold in the finals.

Despite the fact that Douglass broke three American records in her three individual wins at NCAAs, she didn’t swim the 200 IM at the meet – meaning we haven’t seen her full potential in the event. Holding a long course best time of 2:09.04, it is very likely that she will be able to dip under 2:09 this year and go 1-2 with Walsh once more.

Young Guns and College Stars

The fastest time coming into trials belongs to rising sixteen year-old phenom Leah Hayes, who clocked a 2:11.22 at the Westmont Pro Series in early March. A swimmer for the Fox Valley club in Illinois, Hayes just missed out on an Olympic trials final when she finished tenth in the semifinals with a time of 2:12.89. Since then, she has dropped 1.67 seconds in the event and will most likely be the top junior finisher at trials – rendering her a spot on the Junior Pan Pacs team. 

Another junior swimmer who could make some noise in this event is USC commit Justina Kozan, a high school senior who swims under Mark Schubert‘s The Swim Team. She finished 44th at Olympic trials last year and was well off her best time of 2:11.55 from 2019, but then she impressed us all when she clocked a 2:11.96 at the 2021 Speedo Summer Championships a few months later. In that swim, she closed in a blistering 29.75 freestyle split, which was faster than the last 50 of all of the Olympic finalists from Tokyo. If Kozan can drop another 2:11 and close really fast once more, she is guaranteed to finish top 8.

Stanford swimmer Torri Huske was largely overshadowed by Walsh in the 200 IM race at NCAAs this year, but she still swam a very fast time of 1:51.81 to place second. Although better known for her butterfly, Huske dropped nearly two seconds in the 200-yard IM this year. She finished fourth at trials with a time of 2:10.38, and her incredible versatility in both long course and short course could have her placing very high in the event. 

However, there is a possibility that Huske will drop the 200 IM to focus on the 50 free, which happens on the same day as the 200 IM. In fact, the two events are only separated by the men’s 200 IM and the men’s 800 free, giving her around 15 minutes of time in between. 

Huske did the opposite at NCAAs, going for the IM instead of the sprint despite having top 8 times in both events. Although, that was because the field in the 50 free at NCAAs was much more crowded than the 200 IM field. At trials, it will be a very different story. A 2:10 is fast, but it’s likely Huske won’t be able to touch Walsh or Douglass if she doesn’t go at least a 2:09-mid. On the other hand, Huske was third in the 50 free at 2021 trials, just 0.16 away from making the Olympic team in the event. This year, it looks to be a much more promising event for her, so avoiding a double so she can have a stronger 50 free wouldn’t be surprising.

Evie Pfiefer, who recently finished up her college career with Texas, couldn’t get out of the semifinals in the event at 2021 trials, finishing ninth with a time of 2:12.59. However, her best time of 2:11.53 could have easily been top 8.

The Veterans 

Leah Smith, Beata Nelson, and Melanie Margalis come in as the trio of veterans looking to redeem themselves after missing the Olympics last year. 

Margalis holds a best time of 2:08.70, a time that would have been fast enough to medal in Tokyo. However, that time was set back in 2017, and she hasn’t been able to hit that mark ever since.

A 2016 Olympic gold medalist, Margalis failed to qualify for Tokyo and finished 6th in the 200 IM at trials with a time of 2:11.7. However, she recently placed fourth behind Douglass in the event at Short Course Worlds and won a bronze medal in the 400 IM at the same meet. In addition, her recent change in training base from Georgia to Georgia Tech may bring positive change for her. Although the 400 IM is more her forte, there’s no doubt that the experience of multiple international meets under her belt will bring her good results in the 200 IM as well.

Leah Smith also recently switched training locations, making the move from Arizona to Texas last fall. She didn’t swim the 200 IM at trials, but put up a personal best time of 2:11.67 at the U.S. Open last December. We aren’t sure if she will be swimming the event though, considering that she could put her full focus on events like the 200 free, 400 free, and 400 IM where she has a better chance of making the team. 

Although she used to be primarily a mid-distance and distance freestyler, she’s had some very impressive IM showcases after she began swimming for Carol Capitani, and could very likely avenge her failure to make the Olympic team with a worlds berth.

A star in short course meters and short course yards, Beata Nelson has never really made her way to international stardom in long course. She had a very successful season in the International Swimming League last fall, which included breaking the American record in the 100 IM with a time of 57.72. However, USA Swimming’s selection standards for Short Course Worlds, which prioritized long course times, snubbed her from racing at the meet. 

Nelson finished seventh at trials last year with a time of 2:11.55 and has the second-fastest time in the country currently, which is a 2:11.76 from the Westmont Pro Series. 

Retired Or Not?

The biggest name from 2021 trials that won’t be swimming this year is Madisyn Cox. Last May, she put up a time of 2:08.51 at an in-season meet, which would have won gold at the Olympics. However, she was a bit slower at trials, going a 2:09.34 to miss a spot on the Olympic team by .02 of a second. She has since retired to go to med school, but if she was still swimming, she would definitely challenge Walsh and Douglass for a worlds berth.

Meghan Small and Emma Barksdale were both finalists at 2021 trials, but neither of them have swum at a meet since then.

And what about Kathleen Baker, the U.S. Open record holder who holds a faster PB than anyone that we’ve just listed? Last year, she suffered a foot injury a month before trials, which affected her performances and caused her to miss out on Tokyo. She failed to make finals in the 200 IM, placing 12th with a time of 2:12.95, off her personal best of 2:08.32.

Baker has only swum in a few ISL meets after trials (she was entered in the San Antonio Pro Series, but ended up not swimming), and we have received no confirmation on whether she will be swimming in Greensboro in two weeks. But if she’s fully healthy and ends up showing up, we could have another contender in our hands.

Place Swimmer Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Alex Walsh N/A 2:08.65
2 Kate Douglass N/A 2:09.04
3 Leah Hayes 2:11.22 2:11.22
4 Melanie Margalis 2:11:77 2:08.70
5 Leah Smith 2:11.67 2:11.67
6 Beata Nelson 2:11.76 2:11.55
7 Justina Kozan 2:14.05 2:11.55
8 Evie Pfiefer N/A 2:11.53

Dark Horse – Katie Grimes: The Sandpipers of Nevada standout has a much better chance of making the Worlds team in the distance freestyles and the 400 IM, but her coach Ron Atiken recently told SwimSwam that the 200 IM would also be in her trials lineup. Her best time is a 2:15.77, a far shot from the best. But her recent success in the 400 IM, which includes posting a 4:00.66 in the event in yards at winter juniors, make us wonder what her potential in the 200 IM is.

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

It will probably rather happen in August but I see Teagan O’Dell able to go 2.10 this year. Her best stroke is by far backstroke but her IM potential is big too.

Pacific Whirl
7 months ago

Teagan O’Dell for the final.

Chris
7 months ago

kate douglass will prove to be the fastest swimmer in the world soon.

Steve Nolan
7 months ago

Jeez, I didn’t realize that Cox’s time from May 2021 and Baker’s PR woulda won. Now I’m even more bummed out for both of ’em.

Eddie
7 months ago

I hope Kathleen Baker comes back

NB1
Reply to  Eddie
7 months ago

she’s been phenomenal any time she had 4-5 months of uninterrupted training

NB1
7 months ago

What a great photo Jack! with their walking in sync, same expression on their face, two tired, focused world class swimmers

Yozhik
7 months ago

Why people cannot accept that there are other people around that live by other standards than they do?
My granddaughter is 5 years old and I tried my best to introduce her to swimming and to spark in her the desire to compete in the water. But my daughter-in-law said firmly: “NO, she will never let her girl to be a competitive swimmer”. It is her child and as mother she sees different way in life for her daughter. I quietly walked away.

McKeown-Hodges-McKeon-Campbell
Reply to  Yozhik
7 months ago

spot on. your comments about female swimmers don’t hold any water, because none of them actually care about the standards you hold them to

Scuncan Dott
Reply to  Yozhik
7 months ago

I am so confused, how is this relevant at all?

Yikes
Reply to  Scuncan Dott
7 months ago

Nothing he says is ever relevant or even sensical. And yet he won’t stop talking.

SCCOACH
Reply to  Scuncan Dott
7 months ago

I think I know what is going on here.

1. It starts with everyone vehemently disagreeing with something Yozhik says.

2. Yohzhik doesn’t understand why we can’t have a civil conversation with him despite everyone having different views than him. So he tells a really wacky story that ends with him just walking away (in the story) because the person he disagrees with is unreasonably attacking him.

3. He refuses to believe that he is the crazy one in his stories, not us!!! He doesn’t get it that we are ok with having civil discussions with people that have different viewpoints. We just don’t want to have civil conversations with people that continuously post really creepy things about young female… Read more »

Tik Tok
Reply to  Scuncan Dott
7 months ago

It’s YOZHIK.

Enuf said.

Canadian Swammer
Reply to  Yozhik
7 months ago

I am convinced Yozhik is an elaborate troll.

Pvdh
Reply to  Canadian Swammer
7 months ago

If it’s this extensive it’s who he is. Not everything is a galaxy brain manipulation.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  Canadian Swammer
7 months ago

Or has just inhaled fumes from a tire factory all day every day for the last 20 years.

Yozhik
Reply to  Steve Nolan
7 months ago

Very weak. You have to learn the mastery of humiliating of Yozhik from O’Longhorn. That is where the masterpieces are. I even showed his assessments of my health conditions to my family doctor at regular annual check up. We both laughed at it. But when I was about to leave I saw that he put some notes in my chart. 😀

Mindy
Reply to  Yozhik
7 months ago

Again…. Wtf are you even talking about? Nobody is willing to invest that much time to “reform” a creepy old man internet troll. Go spend some time with that granddaughter you mentioned and get off your phone.

Sunny
Reply to  Yozhik
7 months ago

Lol clearly you view this as some sort of weird competition; say something outrageous and challenge anyone to force you to admit you’re wrong. Kind of a sad attempt at drawing people in to look for connection and meaning in your life. I’m guessing you’re quite lonely and don’t have a lot of real world relationships to spend your time cultivating so you resort to being provocative on the internet. The desperation to draw people into arguments is just more sad to me than anything.

Yozhik
Reply to  Sunny
7 months ago

I never vote on somebody else’s opinion. But in this case I vote your post up. You are a smart person. However it would be nice if you analyzed the psychological status of that group of readers that call themselves “We”.
If they are entering the discussion (in very ugly way most of the times) then there is something in my posts that is unusual and deserves attention if to get rid of stereotypes.

PFA
Reply to  Canadian Swammer
7 months ago

I don’t often comment on these threads but to put it lightly after the fiasco from earlier, I can now say with 100% confidence that if this was the treat we got from Yozhik today, then I can’t wait for the craziness that might be in store next week during trials.

Last edited 7 months ago by PFA
Melanie
7 months ago

1. Walsh
2. Douglass
3. Hayes
4. Nelson
5. Margalis
6. Kozan
7. Barksdale
8. Smith

Dark Horse: Bella Sims

Austinpoolboy
Reply to  Melanie
7 months ago

Good list! However, Kathleen Baker is the dark horse

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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