Leah Smith Tapered at Altitude for Nationals (Video)


Reported by Lauren Neidigh.


  1. GOLD: Katie Ledecky– 3:59.09
  2. SILVER: Leah Smith– 4:02.21
  3. BRONZE: Haley Anderson– 4:07.21
  4. FOURTH: Kaersten Meitz– 4:07.60

Katie Ledecky was under her own World Record pace until the final 50 meters, but fell off, still dominating in the 10th fastest performance ever in 3:59.09. With some more rest, her records look like they may be in trouble. Ledecky did set the U.S. Open Record earlier this year in 3:57.94.

As expected, fellow Olympic medalist Leah Smith was far ahead of the rest of the field in a 4:02.21 for 2nd. That’s her fastest time of the season by 2 seconds. Teammate Kirsten Jacobsen, who made a massive drop to qualify for this final, was a couple of seconds shy of her prelims time for 8th in 4:11.14.

Open water world champ Haley Anderson (4:07.21) and All-American Kaersten Meitz (4:07.60) battled closely for 3rd, with Anderson pulling ahead on the back half. Both broke 4:08 for the first time. Hali Flickinger, the 200 fly champ, was a couple of seconds off her best from a few weeks ago, when she swam a 4:06.72, taking 7th in 4:10.42. She can still swim the 400 free at Pan Pacs if she chooses, since she’s safely on the team. Flickinger is less than a second off the all-time American top 10 list with her best.

14-year-old phenom Claire Tuggle was out with the slight lead in the B final, but Olympic medalist Allison Schmitt popped off the 3rd wall to pull ahead. Schmitt held on for the win in 4:08.46, touching just ahead of a hard-charging Katie Drabot (4:08.96). Tuggle was just off her prelims time for 3rd in that heat with a 4:10.62.


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So, if you were in Leah’s shoes, what events would you swim at Pan Pacs that first day? I’m really curious to hear your responses because it seems like a complicated decision. I feel like she (along with Allison and Ledecky) will be put on the 4×200 relay no matter what, but I could be wrong. I don’t think she is quite able to challenge Allison’s time in the 200, so I think she would just be racing the 200 in order to guarantee her spot on the finals relay. But, in my opinion, her 1:55 high from Worlds last year places her on that finals relay, combined with the knowledge that she did not fully taper for nationals. So… Read more »


I’d do 200 free and 400 IM if I was her.

Becky D

I just finished typing up this amazing analysis of what I would do if I were in the same situation. Then I realized I’m not in the same situation.


All these comments business is just talking. Why to restrict yourself. Share your amazing analysis. Not many can be found here. 😀


Who within American team besides Katie and Leah will decide to try herself in 800 and to be faster than 8:22? So 800 IS a lock for WC. She has a great personal best in 400IM. Should she move just a little bit further she will be a medal contender at any major meets. She must swim this event in Tokyo if she wants to race in this event next year at WC. 200 free has a bunch of swimmers well ahead of Leah. It should be avoided. American 800 relay is almost guaranteed the gold medal. So there will be needs for coach to require Leah to swim individual 200 to get aware of her form. 800 is the… Read more »


400Im and 800 Free


As great of a swimmer Leah is, it just doesn’t make sense to double up the 800 and 400IM on the same day. I say she does the 200 free and 400IM.


It’s pretty lame of the Pan Pacs meet organizers to place the 2 Free, 8 Free, and 4 IM on the same day…even 2 of those events in the same day. It’s pretty common for distance swimmers to swim the 4 IM and 8 Free. What the hell were they thinking?!

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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