2023 U.S. World Trials Preview: Douglass, King Set for Epic Battle in Women’s 200 Breast



  • World Record – Evgeniia Chikunova (RUS), 2:17.55 (2023)
  • American Record – Rebecca Soni, 2:19.59 (2012)
  • U.S. Open Record — Rebecca Soni (USA), 2:20.38 (2009)
  • 2022 U.S. International Team Trials Champion- Lilly King, 2:21.19
  • World Aquatics ‘A’ Cut- 2:25.91

Just like the 50 and 100 breaststroke races, the 200 breast features veteran Lilly King attempting to hold off the next generation of American talents.

King won the 200 breast at last year’s International Team Trials before going on to win gold at the 2022 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. However, the 26-year-old Indiana grad comes into this week’s U.S. Nationals with the second-fastest time this season (2:23.33) behind Worlds bronze medalist Kate Douglass (2:22.75). After saying last year that she was still just learning how to swim this event, Douglass might just put a scare into Rebecca Soni‘s 14-year-old U.S. Open record (2:20.38) if her recent senior campaign at Virginia was any indication of her long-course trajectory.

Qualifying for the U.S. Worlds team in the women’s 200 breast is no easy feat. Just ask Annie Lazor, who clocked the fourth-fastest time in the world last season and still placed third behind King (2:21.19) and Douglass (2:21.43). This year, that trio could face stiff competition from a fourth candidate: rising Texas sophomore Lydia Jacoby.

Jacoby might be the biggest question mark in this showdown. She displayed huge potential with a personal-best 2:24.03 at May’s Mare Nostrum Tour stop in Barcelona, shaving nearly two seconds off her previous-best 2:25.98 from last May. Although it’s a long shot, a time drop of similar magnitude would vault her into top-two contention. Jacoby could also take a step back given that she has added time to her season bests the past two years at Olympic Trials and International Team Trials, but she said she’s in a better place since arriving on campus in Austin last fall, and her results seem to back that up.

Other A-Final Contenders

Rising Virginia senior Anna Keating finished fourth in this event last year with a 2:24.62, which took more than two seconds off her lifetime best. She went 2:28.83 in May and 2:30.81 in the prelims of the NCAP Elite Qualifier earlier this month, but if she can regain anywhere close to her form from last year, she should be a lock for the A-final.

Ella Nelson (2:24.89) and Alex Walsh (2:25.25) both put up A-final worthy times at that same NCAP Elite Qualifier earlier this month, but neither will swim the event at Trials. Nelson is skipping the meet entirely, while Walsh is focusing on the 200 free, 200 IM, and 400 IM instead. Also absent from this year’s meet is Mackenzie Looze, last year’s sixth-place finisher, who recently retired to attend grad school in Boston.

USC graduate Isabelle Odgers won the B-final last year in 2:27.95, and she could be poised for a jump to the A-final this year after posting a 2:28.50 at May’s Pro Swim Series stop in Mission Viejo. Her lifetime best is 2:27.67 from May of 2021.

Georgia grad Zoie Hartman is also in the sub-2:28 club with a 2:27.26 from last July, but her best time this season is 2:30.98 from May. Her best SCY time this season was almost a second faster than last season.

A trio of high schoolers have legitimate shots at making the A-final this year. Texas commit Piper Enge placed third at Junior Pan Pacs last year with a personal-best 2:27.93, but her best time this year is 2:31.00 from May’s Pro Swim Series stop in Mission Viejo. Carmel Swim Club 15-year-old Molly Sweeney turned heads with a personal-best 2:28.34 at Indy Sectionals in March, dropping nearly four seconds off her previous best from last July, but then added two seconds at the Indy Spring Cup in May (2:30.63). Virginia commit (2024) Katie Christopherson owns a personal-best 2:28.76 from her victory at last August’s Junior Nationals, but her best time this season is 2:31.06 from the Atlanta Classic.

SwimSwam’s Top 8 Picks: 

1 Kate Douglass 2:22.75 2:21.43
2 Lilly King 2:23.33 2:19.92
3 Lydia Jacoby 2:24.03 2:24.03
4 Annie Lazor 2:25.71 2:20.77
5 Anna Keating 2:28.83 2:24.62
6 Isabelle Odgers 2:28.50 2:27.67
7 Zoie Hartman 2:30.98 2:27.26
8 Piper Enge 2:31.00 2:27.93

Dark Horse: Rachel Bernhardt – The 28-year-old Drexel grad is an unlikely A-final candidate as an occupational therapist in North Carolina, but Bernhardt blasted a personal-best 2:29.23 at March’s Pro Swim Series stop in Fort Lauderdale, which is good for the 14th seed on the psych sheets. She told the Wall Street Journal that she thinks she can be even faster at U.S. Nationals this week. 

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Happy Slappy
5 months ago

Can we please put Lilly King to bed soon.

5 months ago

I thought Lazor was a coach now? I’m so confused.

Reply to  Taa
5 months ago

She said she was planning to race through Nationals (and presumably Worlds if she were to make the team) and then move into coaching.

5 months ago

I like kate’s breaststroke, so beautiful。
perfect for 200 breaststroke。

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  Nick
5 months ago

It’s perfect unless everybody starts assigning massive time drops in finals based on how smooth it looks in prelims.

Glide once glide again

5 months ago

I feel like Lydia’s stroke is better suited to the 200 and it’s just a matter of time before she starts to make noise here.

Fraser Thorpe
Reply to  Wethorn
5 months ago

Jones was like that – initial splash was in the 100 but then found her groove in the 200

5 months ago

Watch Lydia Jacoby steal second place from Lilly King. Lydia Jacoby is rolling like a runaway freight train.

Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
5 months ago

Lilly is the world champion and has a 2:19. If Lydia can swim 2:19, then yeah.

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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