Analysis: What it Would Take to Beat Regan Smith for Pro Swim Series Title

The 2020 Pro Swim Series isn’t even half over, but the race for the women’s title might as well be. With Regan Smith‘s absurd speed in Knoxville, it’s going to take an otherworldly swim to knock her off the top of the current standings.

For the second season, the Pro Swim Series doesn’t give out its $10,000 series winner prizes based on cumulative points. This year, as it was last year, the winner will be determined by the single best swim (in FINA points) of the entire series. FINA points attempt to compare swims in different events by creating a points system in which the world record is worth 1000 points. Swims slower than the world record earn less than 1000, based on their relative distance from the world record, and new world records will earn more than 1000, depending on how much faster they are than the previous world record.

While that system has its critics, it is the one being used for this year’s Pro Swim Series title. And it’s relative simplicity means we can come up with ‘benchmark’ times that would be needed to beat Smith’s 58.27 100 backstroke from the Knoxville Pro Swim Series over the weekend.

Spoiler alert: they’re ridiculous.

The Pro Swim Series is using FINA’s 2019 Power Points table, which is based off of world records as of January 2019. (That means Smith’s backstrokes are scored based on the former world records, not her new world records set over the summer). Smith scored 986 points with her 100 back in Knoxville. Here’s a look at the slowest times that would earn 987 points and knock Smith off the top of the list:

Event 987-point Swim
50 free 23.77
100 free 51.93
200 free 1:53.47
400 free 3:57.49
800 free 8:06.90
1500 free 15:24.50
100 back 58.25
200 back 2:04.60
100 breast 1:04.41
200 breast 2:19.71
100 fly 55.72
200 fly 2:02.34
200 IM 2:06.67
400 IM 4:27.52

While the series does award $10,000 to the winner, Smith is still maintaining her amateurism for NCAA eligibility. That’ll put some restrictions on how much (if any) of that award she can accept. But the PSS title also comes with plenty of prestige. And it looks like Smith is squarely in line for that honor.

Oh, and if there’s a tie, the tiebreaker is highest FINA points in a second event. Smith has already gone 2:05.94 in the 200 back for 955 FINA points. So even if another swimmer can muster up a 986-point swim, they’ll have to get a second event above 955. Good luck with that.

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1 year ago

Regan could fly first class to the remainder of the PSS meets this year and use her winnings to pay for the tickets.

Reply to  RUN-DMC
1 year ago

She can use the most expensive airfare, stay at most expensive hotels, use the most expensive limousine service and pay for all this luxury by credit card with highest rebate rate. So there would be the way to get at list some part (up to 5%) of her rewards in cash. And Regan, don’t forget to register your frequent fly miles 😀

Reply to  Yozhik
1 year ago

Join the discussion…Keep it simple, just let her coach charge her $1000/month coaching fees.

1 year ago


1 year ago

Ledecky could get the 400, 800 and/or 1500 Free mark if she swims a meet with a bit of rest; 200 fly time is insane- how many years has it been since any woman swam that fast?

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
1 year ago

Great point about the 200 fly! Only the world record holder, Liu Zige, has gone that fast. She went 02:01.81 in October 2009. No other woman has broken 2:03. The most recent sub-2:05 performances came in August of 2016, by Mireia Belmonte and Madeline Groves.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
1 year ago

Realistically only KL can but with three meets left it is doubtful

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
1 year ago

The 2nd-fastest swim of all time is 2:03.41 done by Jessica Schipper at Rome in ’09 – Liu Zige set the mark of 2:01.81 a few months later. The textile record is 2:04.06 done by Jiao Liuyang in London ’12.

Reply to  Wahooswimfan
1 year ago

Agree. In the US i think Ledecky is the only one without a taper

1 year ago

Ironically, it’s probably the 100 back where there is the greatest likelihood of this happening. But, Regan could just go faster again.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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