2022 W. NCAA Previews: Will Smith Be Back On Top in the 200 Back?


  • When: Wednesday, March 16 – Saturday, March 19, 2021
  • Where: McAuley Aquatics Center / Georgia Tech / Atlanta, GA (Eastern Time Zone)
  • Short course yards (SCY) format
  • Defending champion: Virginia (1x) – Meet Results
  • Psych Sheets


  • NCAA: 1:47.24 3/23/2019 Beata Nelson Wisconsin
  • Meet: 1:47.24 3/23/2019 Beata Nelson Wisconsin
  • American: 1:47.16 3/10/2019 Regan Smith Riptide
  • US Open: 1:47.16 3/10/2019 Regan Smith Riptide
  • Pool: 1:47.91 3/21/2015 Missy Franklin California

Last year’s final of the 200 backstroke had no seniors, and seven out of the eight A finalists are entered into the race again this year. The biggest change is the addition of Stanford freshman Regan Smith who is the top seed, and sixth place finisher last year Katharine Berkoff has opted to not compete in the event as she is swimming the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, and 100 backstroke instead.

The big story to watch here will be if Regan Smith takes back the 200 backstroke throne. Smith is the World Record holder in the long course (LCM) version of the event as she swam a 2:03.35 back in 2019 at the World Championships. She also is the American Record holder in the yards (SCY) version of the event as she swam a 1:47.16 way back in March 2019. 

Although she holds the World Record (LCM) and American Record (SCY), one of the biggest surprises of the 2020 US Olympic Trials was that she did not qualify for the Olympics in the 200 backstroke. Instead, she qualified in the 100 backstroke and 200 butterfly, eventually swimming to a silver medal in the 200 butterfly and a bronze medal in the 100 backstroke. 

Another notable thing to point out is that Smith will be doing the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly double on the last day of the meet, but the 200 backstroke comes at the beginning of the night whereas the 200 butterfly is at the end so this will be the lesser-impacted of those two races.

Both swimmers that qualified to represent the US at the Olympics in the 200 backstroke are also entered into this event, and they went 1-2 in the event last year. Those two names are Wisconsin sophomore Phoebe Bacon and Alabama senior Rhyan White. Bacon won the event last year in a time of 1:48.32, and White was right behind touching in a 1:48.99. 

Making things even more complicated, White and Cal sophomore Isabelle Stadden competed in the short course meters (SCM) version of the event back in December 2021 at the Short Course World Championships. Stadden was third in the event at last year’s NCAAs, touching in a 1:49.66 behind Bacon and White. At the SCM World Championships, White swam to gold in a time of 2:01.58 and Stadden earned bronze in a time of 2:02.20.

Outside of competition between swimmers from the US, Stanford junior Taylor Ruck has shown her ability to represent Canada at the International level and achieve success. Ruck was sixth at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in the 200 LCM backstroke in a time of 2:08.24. She finished just behind White who was fourth in a 2:06.39 and Bacon who was fifth in a 2:06.40. 

Virginia’s Reilly Tiltmann was fifth in the event last year dropping almost two seconds off of her seed time, and she has already been faster this year than she was at the end of last year. Tiltmann has changed up her event schedule slightly, switching from the 100 butterfly last year to the 200 freestyle this year. This may show that she has gained some endurance which could help her in the 200 backstroke as well.

Virginia Tech sophomore Emma Atkinson was fourth in the event last year swimming a time of 1:50.43. Her seed time this year of 1:50.64 is slightly off that, but is exactly a second faster than what she was entered in last year (1:51.64). Atkinson has switched up her events in the opposite way compared to how Tiltmann has as Atkinson has switched from the 500 freestyle, 100 backstroke, and 200 backstroke to the 200 freestyle, 100 backstroke, and 200 backstroke. The biggest difference here is that both the 100 backstroke and 200 freestyle are on day 3 instead of the 500 freestyle which was on day 2. This does not spread out the events as much, but it is hard to tell what exact effect it could have.  

Stanford junior Lucie Nordmann did not compete in a meet last year but was fifth in the event back in 2019, swimming a 1:50.70 in prelims and a 1:51.10 in finals. She has already been faster this year than she was two years ago, and also swam faster in prelims than finals at this year’s Pac-12 Championships, which may help her slip into the A final here at NCAAs. 

Place Swimmer School Season Best Lifetime Best
1 Regan Smith Stanford 1:48.91 1:47.16
2 Phoebe Bacon Wisconsin 1:50.48 1:48.32
3 Isabelle Stadden Cal 1:49.51 1:49.51
4 Rhyan White Alabama 1:49.73 1:48.06
5 Taylor Ruck Stanford 1:49.73 1:47.59
6 Reilly Tiltmann Virginia 1:50.49 1:50.49
7 Emma Atkinson Virginia Tech 1:50.64 1:50.43
8 Lucie Nordmann Stanford 1:51.16 1:50.70

Darkhorse: Felicia Pasadyn (Harvard Senior)- Pasadyn is the 26th seed in the 100 backstroke entered with a time of 1:53.58. She’s been faster as she was a 1:52.56 back at the 2020 Ivy League Championships. She was the 15th seed before the 2020 NCAAs were canceled due to COVID-19.

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8 months ago

So according to Stanford stan account, RMS, Smith shouldn’t win because she didn’t make the olympics in this event.

8 months ago

1. Regan Smith 1:47.64
2. Taylor Ruck 1:48.86
3. Isabelle Stadden 1:49.54

8 months ago

No she won’t.

8 months ago

One of my most confident picks. Regan has got this thing!

8 months ago

No. She won’t be on top.

8 months ago

I really want Ruck to get to her 2018-19 level again.

Reply to  Calvin
8 months ago

Can you imagine the 🇨🇦 relays if she did…??
Sub in a 51.7 100 free split for their Toyko 4th 53 high and all of a sudden they are up on the Aussies hip. If Maggie and Kayla can progress to 53 low or 52 high then it’s WR watch…
Sub in her 154 low 200 free with a 154 Penny plus who knows how fast Summer will go, then a whole bunch of 155 to 157 depth swimmers, and it’s a 2nd WR watch relay…

Reply to  Njones
8 months ago

Not really… Sub Ruck’s best ever split for Canada’s worst split and they’re still 1.34 seconds off the Aussie relay.

8 months ago

Stadden over White???

Samuel Huntington
Reply to  Noah
8 months ago

White beats Stadden at NCAAs, Trials, and SCM Worlds and has a significantly better PR…certainly a curious pick.

Reply to  Noah
8 months ago

Agree – this is definitely a hot take pick. White was right there in the fight for medals in both of the backstrokes in Tokyo and has consistently proven that she is the U.S.’s second best backstroker on the international stage right now.

Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Will Smith?

Reply to  Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Gettin’ jiggy with it!

Reply to  Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Glad I’m not the only one who read it that way first.

Reply to  Erik
8 months ago

Legendary swimmer Will Smith takes on nationals

Reply to  Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Can’t take you anywhere smh

Big Fin
Reply to  Jay Ryan
8 months ago

Can Richard Funk?

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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