2023 U.S. Trials Previews: Murphy and Casas Run it Back in the Men’s 200…Back



Record Book:

  • World Record – 1:51.92, Aaron Peirsol (2009)
  • American Record – 1:51.92, Aaron Peirsol (2009)
  • U.S. Open Record — 1:53.08, Aaron Peirsol (2009)
  • 2022 U.S. International Team Trials Champion- Ryan Murphy (1:55.01)
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut – 1:58.07


At last spring’s International Team Trials, it was Ryan Murphy and Shaine Casas who finished first and second respectively, advancing to the World Championships in Budapest. Moreover, Murphy would go on to win gold in Budapest, while Casas would also medal, earning bronze.

Coincidentally, Murphy comes into this meet as the top seed in the event, entering with a 1:54.52, while Casas is the #2 seed at 1:55.35.

Murphy has been the top 200 backstroker in the U.S. for a long time now, so it’s hard to say he’s not the favorite heading into these Trials. He’s the fourth-fastest American in the event all-time, behind only World Record holder Aaron Peirsol, Ryan Lochte, and Tyler Clary. Murphy is also the fastest American in the event over the past decade and has been very consistent over that period of time.

Here is a look at Murphy’s season bests dating back to 2016:

  • 2016 – 1:53.62
  • 2017 – 1:54.21
  • 2018 – 1:53.57
  • 2019 – 1:54.12
  • 2020 – 1:55.22
  • 2021 – 1:54.15
  • 2022 – 1:54.52

His only “down” year during that seven-year period was 2020, which was, of course, interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and he still managed to swim a 1:55.22 that year. Outside of 2020, Murphy’s season bests have all been within a second of each other in the event.

Murphy has also already been 1:56.31 this year, a time which he swam at the Pro Swim Series in Westmont. Given his level of consistency in this event over a long period of time, we can reasonably expect that Murphy will be at least as fast as the 1:55.01 he swam to win the 200 back at last year’s International Team Trials.

Moving on to Casas, he’s set up well to earn another World Championships berth. At last year’s International Team Trials, Casas earned his first career LC World Champs berth thanks to his second-place finish in the 200 back, where he clocked a 1:55.46. He got the proverbial monkey off his back last year, not only making the Worlds team but winning an individual medal as well.

Casas is riding on great momentum from last year, and although his season best of 1:59.65 in the LCM 200 back isn’t necessarily turning heads, he’s put up terrific in-season times in his other events, including a 53.65 in the 100 back. That being said, there’s no reason, at least that I can see, to think that Casas won’t be at least as fast as he was last year, which puts him in excellent position to make the Worlds team again.


This is an interesting group of swimmers, mostly because of the name at the top. Texas’ Carson Foster is the third seed in both the 200 free and 200 back, which is noteworthy because both events will be on the second day of the meet. That means Foster (and his coaches) have a decision to make: stick with the double and try to make the Worlds roster in both events, or nix the double and focus on one of the events. In the scenario where they decide against the double, which in my opinion is most likely, Foster would almost certainly choose the 200 free over the 200 back. The reason for that is because not only is the individual 200 free roster spot up for grabs, but the 4×200 free relay spots as well.

However, in the event that Foster does end up swimming the 200 back, which he might, he would stand a very good chance of finishing in the top two. He enters the meet as the third seed with a 1:55.86, making him one of three swimmers in the field seeded under 1:56, with the other two being Murphy and Casas. Adding to his case for the 200 back, Foster has already been 1:56.97 this year, which is well ahead of Casas’ 1:59.65.

Bearing in mind that World Champs isn’t the only meet being selected out of these Trials, there are two more swimmers who need mentioning in this section. Michigan’s Wyatt Davis is also entered in both the 200 free and 200 back. Eligible for Worlds, Pan Ams, and the U23 LEN meet, Davis is in an interesting position. In the 200 back, Davis comes in as the 15th seed with a 1:59.38. His lifetime best is 1:58.18 from 2018. He comes into this summer with some momentum after clocking a new lifetime best in the yards 200 back during this past NCAA season.

18-year-old Rex Maurer (Rose Bowl Aquatics) is in a similar position to Davis. Maurer sits at 22nd in the 200 free and 18th in the 200 back. Coming off of an awesome SCY season in which he put up some of the fastest times we’ve ever seen from high schoolers in a number of events, Maurer is well-positioned to have a huge meet this week. His 200 back seed time of 1:59.74 is also his lifetime best in the event and was set in April of this year at the Fran Crippen Swim Meet of Champions.

All three swimmers in this section are faced with that same choice: try their hand at the double or pick one of the events to focus on. All three have the ability to land on one of the international rosters that are being selected out of this meet as well.


We’re living in a great time for the U.S. men’s 200 backstroke. Not only do we have veterans who are still among the best in the world in the event, there is also a big crop of up-and-coming teenagers who are rapidly improving. First and foremost, Daniel Diehl. The Cumberland Y 17-year-old threw down lifetime bests of 53.07 and 1:56.41 in the LCM 100 back and 200 back this past December at the US Open. His 200 back time is enough to put him fifth on the psych sheet for these Trials and he’s the youngest swimmer seeded in the top ten.

Not only did Diehl post a 1:56.41 in December, but he also then doubled down on that performance, clocking a 1:56.59 at the spring Sectional meet in March. That means Diehl has gone 1:56 twice in roughly the past six months, which makes him the only swimmer in this field other than Ryan Murphy to do so. With Diehl still being so young, keep a close eye on him this week, as he absolutely has the ability to disrupt the very top of the 100 and 200 backstrokes at this meet.

Another teenager, Swim Neptune’s Keaton Jones, has been exceptional in this event as well. Jones comes in as the seventh seed this week with a 1:57.04, which also stands as his lifetime best in the event. Moreover, that time is very recent, as Jones swam it at the Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo about five weeks ago. If he’s able to replicate that performance on Wednesday morning, Jones should have no issue advancing to the ‘A’ final, at which point, anything could happen.

The youngest swimmer in the field, 16-year-old Maximus Williamson enters this meet as the 11th seed with his lifetime best of 1:58.75. Williamson, a North Texas Nadadores product, swam his lifetime best at the International Team Trials last April. With his PB having come 14 months ago, and Williamson still being only 16 years of age, he may be due for a best time performance, and a big one at that. Either way, Williamson is a prime candidate for the World Junior Champs team.

JT Ewing, an NC State freshman who is still 18 years old, is the 13th seed coming into the meet, having been 1:59.19 before. That time comes from last summer, prior to his arrival at NC State. Ewing raced at the NC State Invite in November of 2022, but didn’t compete in the championship meets for the Wolfpack. However, he’s already clocked lifetime bests in the LCM 50 free and 100 free in the last few weeks, which is promising for his prospects at these Trials.

18-year-old Caleb Maldari, who competes for SwimMAC Carolina, is the 14th seed coming into the meet, having been 1:59.33 before. He posted that time at last summer’s U.S. Nationals. So far in 2023, Maldari has been under 2:00 again, having swum a 1:59.71 at a spring Sectionals meet.


This section is mostly going to include college swimmers who are very much in the mix in this event. Let’s start with Jack Aikins, the University of Virginia 20-year-old who comes in as the fourth seed in the event this week. Aikins is seeded with his career-best of 1:56.29, which he swam at the International Team Trials last April. Aikins has also put up a very solid 1:58.04 already this year, which comes in less than two seconds off his PB.

Aikins is also coming off a very good NCAA season. While he didn’t swim a lifetime best in the yards 200 back this season, he did clock new career marks in the yards 100 back, 100 free, and 200 free.

Next up, we have Destin Lasco. The Cal product is coming off an exceptional NCAA season, in which he roared to new lifetime bests of 43.93 in the yards 100 back and 1:35.87 in the yards 200 back. He comes into these Trials as the ninth seed with a 1:57.31. Lasco’s lifetime best in the 200 back is a 1:56.81, which he swam at the 2020 (2021) Olympic Trials. While Lasco is phenomenal at underwaters, which is of course less of an advantage in LCM swimming compared to yards swimming, it still feels like he hasn’t reached his full potential in the long pool. With as much momentum as he has coming out of this NCAA season, could we see a real LCM breakout from Lasco this week?

Another NC State swimmer, Hunter Tapp, comes into this meet as the sixth seed. Tapp has a lifetime best of 1:56.76, which he swam at the 2020 Olympic Trials in the summer of 2021. He essentially matched his career mark last year, clocking a 1:56.79, which is his seed time coming into these Trials. Though he’s only been 2:00.47 so far this year, as someone who has gone 1:56 in each of the last two years, Tapp is very much a contender here.

Georgia’s Ian Grum is the eighth seed coming into the meet. He swam his lifetime best of 1:57.14 just three weeks ago, which was enough to earn him the eighth seed for this meet. Grum clocked that new PB after having a terrific NCAA season, in which he posted new lifetime bests in the yards 100 back and 200 back and took fourth in the 200 back at NCAAs.

Another Bulldog, Bradley Dunham, comes in as the tenth seed. Like Grum, Dunham had an awesome NCAA season, also posting new career bests in the yards 100 back and 200 back. He clocked his lifetime best ion the LCM 200 back last summer at US Nationals, where he swam a 1:58.60.

SwimSwam’s Top 8 Picks:

1 Ryan Murphy 1:53.57 1:56.31
2 Shaine Casas 1:55.35 1:59.65
3 Carson Foster 1:55.86 1:56.97
4 Destin Lasco 1:56.81 1:58.42
5 Daniel Diehl 1:56.41 1:56.59
6 Jack Aikins 1:56.29 1:58.04
7 Hunter Tapp 1:56.76 2:00.47
8 Keaton Jones 1:57.04 1:57.04

Dark Horse, Aidan Stoffle (Auburn): Auburn’s Aiden Stoffle is seeded with a yards time, so it would be easy to overlook him. While Stoffle’s lifetime best in the LCM 200 back is only 2:06.76, he had an exceptional senior season at Auburn this year, getting down to 1:39.30 in the yards 200 back, which he swam to win the ‘B’ final at NCAAs. He clocked new yards PBs in the 50, 100, and 200 back this NCAA season, so he’s heading into this summer with a lot of momentum. 

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5 months ago

Murphy and Diehl

5 months ago

The real Diehl?

The men’s picks will single-handedly torpedo my pick ’em chances.

5 months ago

The 200 FR/200 BK is a brutal double with only the 200 BR in-between.

5 months ago

How exactly is Wyatt Davis eligible for a LEN meet? LEN is Europe

Reply to  Bud
5 months ago

The European federation opened it up for an American team

5 months ago

Murphy and dirty Dan

5 months ago

Bold prediction
The teens diehl and jones both go top five and one of the two probably diehl goes top three

Popo(veni vidi)vici
5 months ago

Dirty Dan is my pick for second if Carson opts for not doing the double

5 months ago

The top 8 are all reasonable choices. There are mutiple other probably better choices for “Dark Horse.”

As you note, since his best LCM is 2:06, Aidan Stoffle’s consideration here is based entirely on SCY career swim of 1:39.30 in NCAA Consol heat, after failing to break 1:40 under the pressure of the prelims to make the final.

There are other unmentioned athletes with SCY swims well ahead of Aidan.

Owen MacDonald,(ASU), who was 1:39.01 for 3rd at the Pac-12s behind Lasco and Gonzalez, and showed significant consistency with 3 more swims at 1:39.62 or better between prelims/finals at conference and NCAA, including 5th in the A final at NCAAs. He also made the A final at NCAAs… Read more »