Baker Busts Out Near-Lifetime Best 200 IM To Open FFN Golden Tour – Nice


American Olympic medalist Kathleen Baker already made her presence known here on day 1 of the FFN Golden Tour Camille Muffat meet in Nice, France, wrangling up two top seeds from the heats. The Team Elite star produced a morning 200m IM swim of 2:11.31 to land lane 4 in that event, followed by a solid 1:00.03 top mark in the 100m back just 2 events later.

Baker would wind up scratching the 100m back final, thereby forfeiting her morning monetary earnings, with the 22-year-old instead having designs on going full-throttle on the women’s 200m IM event.

Putting up splits of 27.90/31.53 (59.43)/37.17/32.15 (1:09.32), Baker stopped the clock at a time of 2:08.75 to take the 200m IM gold tonight in the 2nd best time of her career. This performance checks-in as just the 2nd sub-2:10 result ever for Baker, whose other occasion is represented by her 2:08.32 PB logged at the 2018 U.S. Summer Nationals.

Baker put on a show tonight in this race, beating the next-closest swimmer of Katinka Hosszu by almost 3 seconds. Reigning World Champion in this event, Hosszu touched in 2:11.72 for runner-up, while home nation swimmer Fantine Lessafre rounded out the top 3 200m IMers in 2:12.32.

For perspective, Baker’s 2:08.75 time tonight would have placed 4th in Gwangju last year. She is now the fastest American this season, overtaking Melanie Margalis’ time of 2:08.84 from U.S. Winter Nationals. Baker also becomes the 3rd fastest performer in the world this season.

2019-2020 LCM WOMEN 200 IM

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Team Elite squadmates Michael Chadwick and Kendyl Stewart were also in the pool tonight, with the former taking bronze in the 50m breast in 28.14. Winning that sprint event was Frenchman Theo Bussiere, who touched in 27.83, while Turkish athlete Emre Sakci also got under 28 seconds in 27.98.

Stewart topped the women’s 100m fly podium, producing a mark of 58.72. She led the leats in 59.01 before splitting 27.11/31.51 to produce 1 of just 2 sub-59 second outings. Behind her was Belarusian national record holder Anastasiya Shkurdai who posted 58.87, while Hosszu collected bronze in 59.45.

Hosszu had earlier raced the 50m free as well, winding up 8th in 25.87. It was Melanie Henique of France who got the job done for gold in the splash n’ dash, registering a winning time of 24.86.

Michelle Coleman of Sweden was next in line in 24.96 for silver, while Charlotte Bonnet notched bronze in 25.87.

Sans Baker in the 100m back final, Coleman took advantage of the absence and raced to the win in 1:01.03. Hosszu was in the water yet again, clocking 1:04.59 for a far-behind 8th place finish in the 1back event.

Additional Winners:

  • Alina Zmushka of Belarus took the women’s 50m breast in 31.44, followed by British-turned-Russian swimmer Tatiana Belonogoff who touched in 31.47. We’ll be publishing a separate post on Belonogoff’s federation change.
  • The men’s 400 IM saw Jeremy Desplanches of Switzerland do his thing for gold, producing a winning effort of 4:14.76.
  • Greece got on the board, courtesy of Apostolos Christou‘s winning effort of 54.08 in the 100m back. He led a trio of sub-55 men, which also included runner-up Yohann Ndoye Brouard of France (54.35) and his teammate Mewen Tomac (54.71).
  • Greece wrangled up another gold by way of Konstantinos Englezakis‘ victory in the 400 free. The 18-year-old logged 3:49.27 to edge out Tunisian Ayoub Hafnaoui‘s time of 3:49.90.
  • Israeli Yauhen Tsurkin won the men’s 50m fly in 23.74, out-touching Maxime Grousset by just .11.


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1 year ago

Awesome swim – seems to be really focusing on her IM for trials. Backstroke will be very competitive. Her 31.5 backstroke split is a really good sign for her 2BK.

Reply to  Wow
1 year ago

200 IM is tight, but may actually be a more secure spot than the backstrokes. With Smith, Smoliga, Bacon, and Stadden all showing great form that’s going to be a tough race. The IM obviously still has the likes of Margalis, Walsh, Eastin, and Cox, but she’s ahead enough to have the upper hand. Either way, both races are going to be missing potential medalists due to the depth. Reminds me of the men’s backstroke in 12 and 16.

Reply to  Nswim
1 year ago

I think she is a pretty safe bet in both backstrokes at this point. The competition for 2nd place will be other worldly though.

Reply to  Andy
1 year ago

So you think Baker is the safe #1 at Trials in the 100 & 200 backs, huh? Interesting. Regan Smith will be surprised to learn this.

Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

I’m hoping Andy meant that she’d be part of that 2nd place battle? Obviously Regan stands alone. But 100 back in particular is gonna be a brutal fight. Bacon is dropping 58-mid and beating Regan in December. Who’s to say she doesn’t crack :58 at trials?

Reply to  swimgeek
1 year ago

Hoping that Regan will be part of the 2nd place battle is just clueless thinking. And referencing bacon beating Smith at us open is also ignoring important facts. Rested, shaved Bacon beats unrested unshaved Smith by. 05 seconds 25 minutes after smith also swam a 200. Big deal. And hoping Smith “cracks” is also nonsense. She never has. Ever. And she swam 2016 trials. She won’t be the least bit frazzled. The logic is plain weak. Give it up. Kathleen may well crush the 100 & 200 back to make the team in both events. She’s that talented. But Smith is #1 in both events.

Reply to  Dan
1 year ago

And a few other ladies!

Reply to  Wow
1 year ago

Also, seems to fit into her schedule pretty nicely.

Day 2: Prelims 100 back – Semis 100 Back
Day 3: Prelims 200 IM – Finals 100 back, THEN Semis 200 IM
Day 4: No prelims – Finals 200 IM
Day 5: Day off
Day 6: Prelims 200 back – Semis 200 back
Day 7: No prelims – Finals 200 back

assuming she swims those 3 events, 2IM really wouldn’t seem to hurt the backstrokes at all, just keeps her busy on Day 3 morning/Day 4 night

1 year ago

Love to see this! 2 IM is going to be quite competitive at Trials.

Reply to  N P
1 year ago

Baker and Margalis both 2:08 so far this year and Walsh 2:09 flat. Gonna be tough.

Reply to  Wow
1 year ago

Don’t count out Eastin! I have a good feeling about her this Summer, especially in the 400.

1 year ago

I thought Marsh ruins all his swimmers

About Retta Race

Retta Race

After 16 years at a Fortune 1000 financial company, long-time swimmer Retta Race decided to change lanes and pursue her sporting passion. She currently is Coach for the Northern KY Swordfish Masters, a team she started up in December 2013, while also offering private coaching. Retta is also an MBA …

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