Leah Smith Hits Huge Best Time in 200 IM at US Open – 2:11.67

Torrey Hart
by Torrey Hart 5

December 02nd, 2021 National, News


After shaving a few tenths off her previous 200 IM best time in prelims, American Leah Smith — typically associated with mid-distance and distance freestyle — dropped a 2:11.67 in finals at the 2021 U.S. Open Thursday night.

That marked a best time by well over a second and would have landed her sixth overall at U.S. Olympic Trials — and seventh at the Tokyo Olympics. Smith split 28.23/33.56/39.14/30.74 on Thursday, winning the event three-plus seconds. Tennessee’s Summer Smith was second in 2:15.02.

In October, Smith made the move from her longtime training base at the University of Arizona to train under Carol Capitani and Mitch Dalton at the University of Texas, also home to distance swimmers Erica Sullivan and Evie Pfeifer.

“It’s [training at Texas] been awesome,” Smith said Thursday. “I love Carol [Capitani] and Mitch [Dalton] and the team. They’re just really special to me. It’s been great at this meet too ‘cause my whole team is at the Minnesota invite, so we’re swimming [apart] but being really supportive of each other and it’s just been really awesome to have a fresh start there.”

Smith, a 2016 Olympic medalist in the 400 free, missed out on the Tokyo team. She was third in the 400 at Olympic Trials, over a second off of making the team, and 10th in prelims of the 800 free, missing the final. Smith was 8:23.78 in the 800 free Wednesday night, which also would have been sixth at Trials. She was also fourth in the 400 IM at Trials and eighth in the 200 free.

Smith has not really pursued the 1500, and has only swum it seven times in her career (one which earned her bronze at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, however).

Wednesday night’s swim begs the question of if she should make the pivot to focus more on her IM events, especially given the influx of young distance talent behind Katie Ledecky on the women’s side — although the IM events aren’t that much better. The 26-year-old has a plethora of individual and relay international medals to her name, but all in freestyle thus far.

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1 year ago

Happy to see Leah log a new PB just a few months after what some would consider a disappointing performance at trials

Reply to  zdhamme86
1 year ago

I agree. The feeling of swimming a personal best never gets old.

1 year ago

That stat is insane. 6th at trials and 7th in the olympics?!

Reply to  Noah
1 year ago

Only because Wilson and Hosszu threw in the final. This result in the olympics would be enough only for 13th in the semis and 16th in prelims.

Reply to  artiebeer
1 year ago

That sounds more reasonable, thanks!

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

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