It’s been a whirlwind two weeks for 21-year old American swimmer Kathleen Baker. First on July 28th, she swam a new World Record of 58.00 in the 100 meter backstroke. Then, last week, she announced that she would forgo her final year of NCAA eligibility at Cal and turn pro. Now, she’s signed her first suit partnership with Speedo, a source at Speedo USA has confirmed.
Baker was a 3-time champion at last Nationals two weeks ago, tying in the 200 back with Regan Smith and winning the 100 back and 200 IM outright. She was awarded the Phillips 66 Performance Award for her World Record in the 100 back, which also eclipsed Missy Franklin’s 6-year-old former American Record.
Baker will move on to compete at the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo, where she’ll compete in both backstrokes and the 200 IM. She looks like she has a great shot at extending her Worlds schedule to the 200 IM as well after becoming the 2nd fastest American performer ever in the event. She’s also tied as the 10th fastest performer ever worldwide.
In the NCAA, Baker has been a staple for the Cal Golden Bears over the past few seasons. In 2016, she earned her first All-American honors as she placed 2nd in the 200 IM as a freshman. She was named the 2017 CSCAA Female Swimmer of the Year after weeping her individual events at NCAAs (100 back, 200 back, 200 IM). She came very close to the American Records in both the 100 back and 200 IM, missing the 200 IM record by just 4 hundredths. That year, she was also a part of Cal’s winning 200 medley relay that set a new NCAA Record.
In 2018, Baker finished 2nd in the 200 IM and 3rd in the 100 back before capping off her NCAA season with a victory in the 200 back, setting a new American Record in the process. Baker is the Cal school record holder in both backstrokes and the 200 IM. All-in-all, she was a 4-time NCAA champion and 7-time individual All-American.
Baker has also had success internationally over the past few seasons, though she’s spent the school year training at Cal and summers training with Dave Marsh. After her freshman year at Cal, Baker qualified for the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team in the 100 back. Individually, she brought home the silver in the 100 back. She won gold as a member of the USA’s champion 400 medley relay. At the 2017 World Championships, she set an American Record in the 50 back (which has since been broken by Olympic teammate Olivia Smoliga). She picked up a silver medal in the 100 back, bronze in the 200 back, and gold in the 400 medley relay.
Speedo USA is a SwimSwam partner.