Leah Smith: “Everyone expected me to die on certain strokes” (Video)

Reported by James Sutherland.




  • American Record: Katie Hoff, 4:31.12, 2008
  • U.S. Open Record: Katinka Hosszu, 4:31.07, 2015
  • LC National Meet Record: Katie Hoff, 4:31.12, 2008
  • FINA ‘A’ Standard: 4:43.06
  1. Leah Smith, CAV, 4:33.86
  2. Elizabeth Beisel, ABF, 4:38.55
  3. Brooke Forde, LAK, 4:39.19

I don’t think anyone predicted it coming into the meet, but Leah Smith is your National Champion in the women’s 400 IM. Smith turned 4th after the fly, and then absolutely took over on backstroke, turning in 2:12.21 for a 2.6 second lead. She only extended her lead after that, including a blistering 1:01.5 free leg, to touch in 4:33.86. She now sits #3 in the world this year.

That wasn’t the only surprise of the race. Stanford’s Ella Eastin had a strong swim, touching 2nd, handily defeating Elizabeth Beisel who touched 3rd. Shortly after the finish, we learned Eastin had been disqualified for “swimming more than a quarter of the race in the style of backstroke”, AKA the ‘Lochte rule’, indicating she swam a portion of the underwater on the freestyle leg on her back. That moved Beisel up to 2nd, earning her a World Championship berth.

Brooke Forde got bumped up to 3rd with her solid 4:39.19, and shortly after the Eastin DQ we also learned Bethany Galat was DQed for the same thing. This also happened numerous times in the prelims for both men and women.

Stanford’s Allie Szekely lowered her best time from the Santa Clara Pro Swim to win the B-final in 4:40.87. Florida commit Vanessa Pearl of Metroplex Aquatics dropped a huge PB in the C-final, winning the heat in 4:43.60. In the battle for spots on the Junior Worlds team, Christin Rockway (4:45.94) and Madison Homovich (4:48.46) earned their spots placing 2nd and 4th in the C-final.

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Tom from Chicago

Leah Smith decides to swim 400 IM at Nationals and goes 4:33 and the US Open record is 4:31. Smith’s time is only a tenth of a second behind world leader Hosszu.

So that just happened…


Hosszu has been the quiet Hungarian this year but likely can push out a 4.29 . The Japanese girl is 4.31 . In Kazan with similar timetable ( ?) Bronze was 4.32 .

Historically many mid distance freestylers can do a good 400 im esp if they lived in the Animal Lane but schedules don’t make it worthwhile . For instance the Euro juniors girls & world juniors have the 800& 400 im on cnsecutive days ( or even the same day ) ..

I imagine that now Leah has finished college she has time to put in some im sessions .


Good for her to find another event she can excel in and good for the u.s to have her in this event. From one of the weakiest event on the women side (who could be much worst if she didnt swim this and Beisel would be national campion with 4.38) to a mrdal contender. Good luck, she will have a tough scheduale (last day after 8 days of swimming 200-1500 probably) but I hope she could improve a little more


Hosszu in front of 15,000 Hungarians in Budapest – it’s a slam dunk for her! 4.28 low!

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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