Katie McLaughlin Follows 200 Free Best Time With 1:55.47 Relay Split


After setting a personal best in the 200 free preliminaries on day 1 of the Pan Pacific Championships in 1:56.88, American Katie McLaughlin followed up with a 1:55.47 relay split on the American 800 free relay on day 2.

Prior to this year, the 21-year-old rising senior at Cal had her best season in 2015, when she placed 6th at the World Championships in the 200 fly and split 1:56.92 on the victorious American 800 free relay.

Earlier that season, McLaughlin swam a lifetime best of 1:57.55 in the 200 free. She approached that last month at U.S. Nationals, winning the consolation final in 1:58.20, and then finally erased her PB on Wednesday with her 1:56.88 in the heats. That swim got her into the B-final, where she won in 1:57.34, and cemented her spot on the 800 free relay.

Nearly a full second and a half under her flat start best, McLaughlin’s 1:55.47 split stood up as the 4th-fastest flying leg in the field (Ariarne Titmus led off in 1:55.27) behind only individual medalists Taylor Ruck (1:54.08), Rikako Ikee (1:54.69) and Katie Ledecky (1:53.84).

Despite the quick splits from McLaughlin and Ledecky, Allison Schmitt‘s 1:58.62 lead-off put them in a hole they couldn’t quite dig themselves out of, as the Aussies broke the Commonwealth Record and won gold in 7:44.12 with the Americans back in 7:44.37 for silver.

McLaughlin also recorded a personal best in the 100 freestyle during day 2 prelims, clocking 54.14 to narrowly miss a spot in the ‘B’ heat as the 5th fastest American.

Moving forward, she’ll compete in the 100 fly on day 3 in Tokyo, the event she qualified in at U.S. Nationals with her runner-up finish to Kelsi Dahlia in 57.51 (another best time). Her 1:57.34 swim in the 200 free final put her 7th among Americans combining results from Nationals and Pan Pacs (finals times only) by .02, just missing Melanie Margalis‘ 6th ranked 1:57.32. The top-6 in that event will likely qualify for the 2019 World Championships for the relay, so with McLaughlin narrowly missing that, she’ll have to get the job done in the 100 fly.

She’s in position to qualify as of now and just needs to either swim faster than Mallory Comerford during the finals session or simply have Comerford not reach her Nationals time of 57.51. Dahlia, McLaughlin and Comerford are the only U.S. entrants in the event, so the pressure is off in the prelims with a second swim secured (though of course, they’ll be gunning for the A-final).

Based on what we’ve seen so far in Tokyo, McLaughlin will lock up her spot on the World Championship team in the 100 fly, and will be a very valuable asset next summer on the relay after that 1:55.47 split.

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Frequent flyer

Go Katie Go!


Good for her. This whole qualification process needs to be reexamined. As of 2 weeks ago, Schmitt was faster than McLaughlin. Who knows what these two ladies (in addition to any other American ladies) will go next summer when it’s time for worlds. Maybe Schmitt will only be capable of 1:58s next year while McLaughlin is going 1:55s flat start. A lot of people can rise and fall in the span of a year and I want to see the U.S. field the best teams possible.


Schmitt went a 1:55 flat start literally two weeks ago. And she had a bad relay split today. McLaughlin went a 1:58 flat start two weeks ago. And had a great 1:55 flying start today. But you have decided that Schmitt’s permanent decline started sometime within the last two weeks? I am confused.


I am saying that if there can be that much change in 2 weeks, just imagine how much change there can be in 1 year. Think about unforeseen injuries. Think about young swimmers like Regan Smith that are great now, and might be even better next year.

samuel huntington

LPMAN never said Schmitt is in a permanent decline


The athletes aren’t complaining about.

PK Doesn't Like His Long Name

So a question about matter of procedure that I don’t know for next summer: If you’re a “relay only swimmer” in the 800 free relay, but have also qualified in other events (a la Manuel and likely Margalis), are you still required to swim in prelims or finals for the relay to not be DQed? If the answer is no, I would expect that it’s likely that one or two of the girls with multiple swims to bow out of this relay-Manuel would be my first guess as to who would be left off, with all the mixed relays for her to do as well. If it’s yes, the US will have very interesting decisions in terms of who to… Read more »


The answer is no. You only have to swim the relay if that’s the only event you qualified in. You are right though that the USA has more swimmers that could swim this relay then there are spots. I would probably do something like this for the relay (granted a lot could happen in a year as some may show improvements while others may decline): Manuel: skip this event as she will probably be in 4 other relay finals I think the toughest calls are whether or not to use Comerford (as she too will be in four relays), and if you should put Smith and McLaughlin in the prelims or directly into the final. I’m leaning towards not using… Read more »

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James formerly competed for the Laurentian Voyageurs in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in February of 2018, placing 11th at the OUA Championships in the 200 IM, and graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics in May. He …

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