Kathleen Baker Torches 58.77 100 Back In Barcelona, World #3

2018 Mare Nostrum Tour, Barcelona

The Blazing Baker

2016 Olympic silver medalist Kathleen Baker dropped a very quick 58.77 to break Emily Seebohm‘s Mare Nostrum Tour record of 58.99. That time catapults her to 3rd in the 2018 world rankings behind Canada’s Kylie Masse (58.54) and Australia’s aforementioned Seebohm (58.66). Even more notable, that is Baker’s 5th fastest career performance and only 0.23 seconds away from her lifetime best of 58.54 set leading of the United States’ gold medal-winning 4×100 medley relay at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

For a midseason meet, that performance puts her in a great position to potentially challenge Masse – the current World Record holder (58.10) and Seebohm at this summer’s Pan Pacific Championships. The key word in that previous sentence is potentially. Before Baker can have that opportunity, she will have to face off against a hard charging group of American backstrokers including Olivia Smoliga and Regan Smith who have both been 59.3 or faster this year and have lifetime bests in the 58-second range.

Koseki Clips Peaty’s Tour Record

It’s not very often that an Adam Peaty long course record is broken – unless, of course, it is broken by Peaty himself in World Record fashion. However, that is exactly what Japan’s Yasuhiro Koseki did Thursday by setting a new Mare Nostrum Tour record in the 100 breast with a 59.01 – eclipsing Peaty’s 2016 record of 59.07. Peaty still holds the WR with a 57.13. Notably, this performance by Koseki was faster than his 59.10 in the final of the 2017 World Championships in Budapest – a swim that earned him 4th place. The 1-2 punch of Koseki and 200 breaststroke World Record holder Ippei Watanabe has Japan in a very solid position for multiple medals heading into a home country Olympics in 2020.

Rikako Ikee Continues Hot Streak

Speaking of noteworthy Japanese swimmers, Rikako Ikee continues to prove she is among the world’s elite running away with the 100 fly in Barcelona with a 56.40. The 17 year-old didn’t have her best showing last summer at the World Championships, finishing 6th in the 100 fly (57.08), but she has since been on a tear. Ikee broke the Japanese National Record in the 100 fly in April with a blistering 56.38 – only 0.03 off of Sarah Sjostrom‘s world-leading 56.35 this year. Sjostrom is the current WR holder with a 55.48.

Ikee isn’t a one trick pony either; on top of her 100 fly capabilities, she has recorded times of 24.21 in the 50 free (Japanese National Record), 53.03 in the 100 free (Asian Record), 1:55.04 in the 200 freestyle (Asian Record), and 25.11 in the 50 fly (Asian Record). This teenager is the real deal and has a legitimate chance to snag another pair of Asian Records later this summer in the 50 free (24.04) and 100 fly (56.07). If she continues this trend heading into 2020, Ikee will be in the hunt for gold medals in multiple events.

Other Noteworthy Results:

  • Women’s 800 freestyle – In a tight race, USA’s Erica Sullivan pulled out the victory with a time of 8:35.51 – about 5 seconds off the 8:30.15 she swam at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Indianapolis in May. Austria’s Marlene Kahler took 2nd in 8:37.63 and Italy’s Giulia Salin took 3rd in 8:37.80.
  • Men’s 50 Back – To nobody’s surprise, USA’s Michael Andrew stole the show in a 50 of stroke. The 19 year-old swam a 24.70 for the win, which is the 5th fastest time in the world this year and only 0.07 off his best time of 24.63 set last summer at the FINA World Junior Championships. Australia’s Benjamin Treffers snagged second in 25.11 and USA’s Ryan Held – swimming an off event – took third in 25.25.
  • Women’s 50 Breast – Russia’s Yulia Efimova took the top spot in this race with a relatively modest 30.43 compared to the 29.93 she swam last week in Canet. After Efimova, it was a 2-3 punch for the USA as Molly Hannis picked up 2nd in 30.75 and Katie Meili took 3rd in 31.15. Lilly King holds the fastest time in the world this year with a 29.61 from the Pro Swim Series in Santa Clara.
  • Men’s 50 Fly – There were a slew of 23-second performances led by the Ukraine’s Andrii Govorov in 23.22 and followed by Russia’s Oleg Kostin in 23.42 and Belarus’ Yauhen Tsurkin in 23.52. Michael Andrew took 4th in 23.72.
  • Women’s 400 IM – In her pet event, Iron Lady Katinka Hosszu took home the victory in a relatively tame 4:38.32 – well off her own Mare Nostrum Tour record of 4:30.75. Her Hungarian teammate Zsuzsanna Jakabos took 2nd in 4:40.12 and Turkey’s Viktoria Gunes snagged 3rd in 4:40.41
  • Men’s 100 Free – As expected, Brazil’s Bruno Fratus – the silver medalist from the 2017 World Championships – flew out first to the 50 meter mark in 23.05; however, he did not have the firepower to hang on towards the end as Japan’s Katsumi Nakamura closed in over a full second faster (25.12 to 26.16) to take the win in 48.79. Nakamura swam a 48.89 last weekend in Canet for the victory. His Japanese teammate Shinri Shioura took 2nd place in 48.98 and Fratus faded to 3rd in 49.21.
  • Women’s 50 Free – Like Ikee, Taylor Ruck is another youngster with serious range and the ability to contend for multiple medals in 2020. The 18 year-old took home the win in 24.68 ahead of the Netherlands’ Kim Busch in 24.98 and Russia’s Maria Kameneva in 25.04.
  • Men’s 200 Back – The USA’s Bryce Mefford – who just wrapped up his freshman year at Cal – took home the win with a 1:59.18. That is not far off his lifetime best of 1:58.63 set last summer at the U.S. Nationals. In a close battle for 2nd, Poland’s Radoslaw Kawecki got his hand on the wall in 1:59.31 ahead of Christian Diener in 1:59.47.
  • Women’s 200 Breast – The outside smoke coming from lane 1, Japan’s Kanako Watanabe stole a commanding victory from Jessica Vall Montero of Spain in 2:25.03 and Daria Chikunova of Russia in 2:25.04. Yulia Efimova – the defending World Champion – was 6th in 2:25.53.
  • Men’s 200 Fly – In a very close race from start to finish, Hungary’s Bence Biczo pulled off the win over Denmark’s Viktor Bromer 1:56.70 to 1:56.92. Japan’s Nao Horomura had a solid lead at the 100 (55.51), but couldn’t hang on and faded to 3rd in 1:57.65.
  • Men’s 200 IM – Thanks to a very consistently split race (26.10/31.86/34.52/28.21), USA’s Gunnar Bentz snagged the win with a very respectable in-season time of 2:00.69. Having missed a big chunk of the NCAA season due to injury, this is a good sign for the Georgia Bulldog (former). Hungary’s David Verraszto touched for 2nd in 2:01.23 and Russia’s Kirill Prigoda took 3rd in 2:01.61 thanks to a 33.8 50 breast split.
  • Women’s 200 Free – Fresh off a victory in the 50 free earlier in the session, Canada’s Taylor Ruck dominated this one wire-to-wire in 1:56.06. Ruck currently holds the 2nd fastest time in the world this year (behind Katie Ledecky – 1:54.56) with a 1:54.81. It ended up being a 1-2-3 sweep for the Canadian’s as Rebecca Smith snagged 2nd in 1:57.72 and Kayla Sanchez touched for 3rd in 1:58.49. Missy Franklin finished 5th in 1:59.25.
  • Men’s 400 Free – This race was a battle over the final 100 meters. Flipping at the 300m mark, Japan’s Naito Ehara held a 2+ second lead over Russia’s Alexander KrasnykhKrasnykh came storming home with a 27.70 on the final 50, but ran out of room and settled for 2nd in 3:48.65 to Ehara’s 3:48.39. Norway’s Henrik Christiansen finished 3rd in 3:50.10.

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Jim C
4 years ago

As long as they all make the team in something, Baker, Smith, and Smoliga can all swim the 100 Back at Pan Pacs.

bobo gigi
4 years ago

Baker impressive. She’s the woman to beat right now in US women’s backstroke.
Ikee is a very very very special sprint talent. She will peak in time for 2020 at home. Looks like everything has been planned. 🙂
And if Oleksiak can find again her 2016 Rio shape for 2020 then the Canadian women’s 4X200 free relay will be in the gold medal conversation there.

4 years ago

What was that look from Hosszu to Baker after the race? I couldn’t tell if she was surprised at 58x or mocking herself for finishing 10 seconds back over 100 meters.

Somehow this announcer fixates on the world record during every race, even though there’s virtually never the slightest threat.

I like Katie Meili

4 years ago

Any link to the livestream????

4 years ago

Go Golden Bear Baker… once again!!!

4 years ago

Erica Sullivan has been on a tear. Feels like I have been reading her name a lot in the past few months. Tough swimmer. Good for her!

4 years ago

Despite Missy Franklin hasn’t shown yet how far she can go at 200 free by staying firmly around 1:59 flat her chances to be a member of 4×200 relay are surprisingly still good. She has very unusual group of swimmers to compete against for two spots (if Manuel shows no interest): Drabot, Deloof, McLaughlin and Tuggle with the fastest of them being 1:58.86 this season. There are some other “traditional” members of relay like Schmitt and Runge, but they haven’t shown yet competitive time this season and their chances are hard to estimate.

4 years ago

Small correction – Efimova is not the defending Olympic champion. That’s Kaneto.

Coach John
4 years ago

looks like some of these potential 2020 veteran’s are putting the younger guy’s on notice for what it’ll take to make that team.