Katharine Berkoff Goes 27.12 to Set American and U.S. Open 50 Back Records

by Robert Gibbs 8

April 28th, 2022 News


Barely a month after setting the American and US Open Records in the 100 yard backstroke at NCAAs as part of the NC State Wolfpack, 21 year-old Katharine Berkoff repeated the feat in the 50m back tonight.

Swimming in lane five in a stacked  A-final, Berkoff blasted a 27.12, getting her hand on the wall first as three three different women beat or equaled the existing records. 

Berkoff’s touched ahead of Regan Smith (27.25) and Olivia Smoliga (27.33), two women have dominated US backstroke for a while now.

Interestingly enough, Berkoff’s swim tonight broke records belonging to each of those two women. Smoliga previously held the American Record (fastest time ever by a U.S. swimmer) with a time of 27.33 that she swam at the 2019 World Championships. Smith previously held the U.S. Open record (fastest time on U.S. soil), which she set just this morning.

Before this morning, Smoliga had held that record too, with a 27.43 from a 2018 Pro Swim Series stop.

But wait, there’s more. Olympian Rhyan White moved up to #4 all-time among US swimmers with a 27.45 tonight, and Gretchen Walsh moved to #9 with a 27.78. 

All-Time U.S. Performers, Women’s 50 Backstroke (LCM)

  1. Katharine Berkoff (NCS), 27.12 – 2022 U.S. Trials
  2. Regan Smith (UN), 27.25 – 2022 U.S. Trials
  3. Olivia Smoliga (USA), 27.33 – 2019 World Championships / 2022 U.S. Trials
  4. Rhyan White (USA), 27.45 – 2022 U.S. Trials
  5. Kathleen Baker (USA), 27.48 – 2017 World Championships
  6. Natalie Coughlin (CAL), 27.51 – 2015 Pro Swim – Santa Clara
  7. Hannah Stevens (UMIZ), 27.63 – 2017 Summer Nationals
  8. Rachel Bootsma (CAL), 27.68 – 2013 Summer Nationals
  9. Gretchen Walsh (UVA), 27.78 – 2022 U.S. Trials
  10. Ali DeLoof (CW), 27.79 – 2018 Summer Nationals

Berkoff now also appears to the 5th-fastest swimmer ever in the event:

With her swim tonight, Berkoff should secure a spot on the Worlds team. 50 stroke swimmers are added to the roster after the top two finishers in each individual Olympic event (and the 3rd and 4th place finishers in the 100/200 freestyles), subject to a roster cap of 26 swimmers per gender. 

While Berkoff’s father, David Berkoff, swam at two Olympic Games, set world records, and won two Olympic gold medals, Katharine is in line to do something he never did – swim at the World Championships. While those are typically held every two years now, they transitioned from a once every four years event during the senior Berkoff’s peak, with no World Champs occurring between 1986 and 1991.

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9 months ago

Seems like it’s going to be Smith/Berkoff/White ultimately competing for the 2 spots. Maybe Curzan gets in there too. Smoliga has a big hill to climb to try and make it.

Jace the Ace
9 months ago

Berkoff Blastoff 2.0

G-Money Raindrops
9 months ago

“She’s a beast. I call her karma.”- Juicy J

Sherry Smit
9 months ago

If she can go 27.1 in the 50, she’s gonna go sub 58 in the 100! Yay Katharine, I knew she had it in her

9 months ago

Happy for her! Probably so nice going into the 100 with no pressure.

9 months ago

chip off the ole block

9 months ago

Looking at the doubles so far seems like she’s a lock.

Quandale Dingle
9 months ago

I’m really out here simpin

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