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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Ecoach
2 years ago

Back in the 1980’s and 90’s Nick Thierry used to create these power point tables and world rankings. 1000 points was the average of the top 8 swimmers’ times in each event. That seems to me to be a better metric and helps to buffer the arrival of a ridiculous time as in the 200 fly.

Teamwiess
Reply to  Ecoach
2 years ago

Exactly, I was wondering when they just went to the WR as the standard for 1000. They have used various standards in the past but most included with the top 8 swimmers or the top 10 times of all time. This mitigates to some degree the problems of the 200 fly. Only somewhat though as the supersuited times in the 200 Fly are all 204 or lower and going 204 is still incredibly rare outside the supersuits.

Bo Swims
Reply to  Ecoach
2 years ago

RIP

Nick. His magazine was highly anticipated at our house every month…

swimfast
2 years ago

i really, really think Smith should go pro before this summer. i actually think that college swimming is great, but come on…not smart for her. her dream may be to go to stanford, but isn’t another very fascinating dream to earn tons of money for your passion? isn’t that like, everyone’s dream…..?

Yozhik
Reply to  swimfast
2 years ago

Being junior in HS at the time of this college rush, exams, applications etc my son asked me why should he go to college. I knew that his question was rhetorical and nothing serious. Just to irritate parents a little bit. But I was surprised that I didn’t find what to tell him not being banal and preachy, saying something that I didn’t believe in.

Swammer
Reply to  swimfast
2 years ago

I totally agree. I love college swimming too, and my time on a college team was really special. (Def not Stanford level, but still.) But she would be giving up an even more unique opportunity if she doesn’t go pro and, frankly, one that will leave her in a much better position for her future.

Nate
Reply to  Swammer
2 years ago

She should at least get into Stanford first before going pro. A Stanford degree goes places

sven
Reply to  Nate
2 years ago

So does cashing in on multiple world records, doing ISL, etc. She could be a millionaire by 20.

Bo Swims
Reply to  sven
2 years ago

That buys plenty of tuition fees.

swimfast
Reply to  Nate
2 years ago

so does being a world record holder at age 17 lol…there are many, many students and alum of stanford…there are far fewer world record holders in a rapidly growing sport that are able to directly and immediately monetize their accomplishments

IM FAN
2 years ago

Ok that 2:02.37 200 fly highlights how ridiculous this system is. Sorry if your best event is the 200 fly lol. If feel like FINA points should be calculated using an average of something like the top ten fastest performers in history rather than just the world record if it’s going to be used as a benchmark to compare swims. That way outlier performances or performers (Liu Xiang 200 fly, Paul Biedermann 200 free, Ledecky in general, Adam Peaty 100 breast) don’t completely screw the system.

I know the flaw with this argument is by definition WRs are outlier performances, but not all are created equal. In some events like the women’s 200 fly it’s just down right unfair to… Read more »

PhillyMark
2 years ago

2Back time is do-able by R Smith

Miami Joe
2 years ago

“The PSS title also comes with plenty of prestige.” Bwah-ha-ha-ha!!!

BillPark ChPC ASCA level -5 international senior a
2 years ago

She would have to beat herself or not show up to race
At this level it’s who is best prepared mentally 95% and 5% physical
If all are that close and there are it’s who’s best prepared mentally

Admin

What? No.

Tupperware

I could be the most mentally prepared person in the world and I’m still not going to beat dressel

Brownish
Reply to  Tupperware
2 years ago

Why not?

Bill
Reply to  Tupperware
2 years ago

If you think you can’t you won’t But if you think you can you stand a chance

sven
2 years ago

I know these times are based off of what would score 987 points, but what if someone swam a 58.26 in the 100 back? Apparently 58.25 is the threshold for 987, but if someone tied Regan Smith’s points but beat her time, does it still defer to second best event?

Superfan
2 years ago

The FINA point system is only updated every so many years. Men’s 2breast is an “easy” event to score big points because that WR has dropped after last update and the event is ridiculously deep right now at top. Regan’s WRs haven’t been included so it is soft for her! The old Canadian charts are much more accurate and change with the times!

DravenOP
Reply to  Superfan
2 years ago

Imagine if your main event was the 200 fly and you had to go a time no one has done in a decade because of a ridiculously fast suited swim in 2009. It might be better to do these power points based on comparison to the fastest/winning time at the most recent WC or Olympics.

Yozhik
Reply to  DravenOP
2 years ago

I think that moving 52 weeks or 100 weeks ranking period will be more appropriate measure of quality of swimming. That is how it’s done in many other sports. Swimming may need longer ranking period because swimming competitions are not that frequent.
And times are not necessarily should be involved. Ranking position by itself can be the measure of quality. Some kind of ELO system can be used for ranking.

Yozhik
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

And remember that those points are not needed as absolute measure of quality to be compared against world records. This “points” measure is only needed at the time of reward distribution and there is no use of involving some world records that may have nothing to do with current state of affairs in competitive swimming.

COVFEFE
Reply to  Yozhik
2 years ago

Just remember that by this logic, Katinka comes out nicely 😉

Brownish
Reply to  COVFEFE
2 years ago

🙂

Yozhik
Reply to  Brownish
2 years ago

You didn’t get it. Ranking system like ELO takes into account not wins only but also against whom those wins were achieved. If a swimmer lost to Ledecky her rating won’t go down. If a swimmer wins against high school level field her rating won’t increase. The vest majority of Hosszu’s wins cost nothing.

Bo Swims
Reply to  DravenOP
2 years ago

Same thing when Mary T had the record from 81 – 2000

dmswim
Reply to  Bo Swims
2 years ago

But Mary T’s time was legitimate. One issue I have with the women’s 200 fly record being the standard is that it was a super suit record.

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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