Disclaimer: BlueSeventy Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The BlueSeventy Swim is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Much has been made of Team USA’s historic run of great male backstrokers, but American swimming is also proving a consistent factory for great teenage and youth backstrokers on the women’s side.
Riptide’s Regan Smith joined that group this week, becoming what is believed to be just the 7th 15-year-old to break one minute in the 100 long course meter backstroke. Of those seven, three are Americans.
Smith went 59.74 at the Indianapolis Sectional meet last week. That puts her just six tenths off the National Age Group record – especially impressive considering Smith just aged into the 15-16 age group less than two months ago. That means she’s got 22 more months to chase a record held by an American swimming legend.
Missy Franklin holds that 15-16 NAG mark with a 59.18 from late 2011. But her fastest time as a 15-year-old was a 59.56 from earlier in that year. Smith slots in just behind that and displaces Rachel Bootsma‘s 59.77 from 2009 as the second-fastest 15-year-old swim in Team USA history. A standout young backstroker from Minnesota, Smith shows flashes of Bootsma, who made the U.S. Olympic team in 2012 as an 18-year-old. Smith will be 18 years old as of the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials.
In the 15-16 age group, Smith moves past Bootsma, Elizabeth Pelton and Elizabeth Beisel among other big names. And she’s just the latest to rise in a line of elite 15-16 backstrokers that includes former Junior World Record-holder Claire Adams along with 1:00 swimmers Lucie Nordmann and Grace Ariola (both from 2016).
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