Race Video: Watch White And Bacon Take Out WR Holder Smith In Women’s 200 Back

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

The 2021 US Olympic Trials have been anything but boring and the day 7 finals session was no exception.

Upsets upon upsets have gone down over the course of the meet and none were as unexpected as the result of the women’s 200 backstroke final in which Rhyan White and Phoebe Bacon managed to unseat reigning world champion and world record holder.

After qualifying for Tokyo in the 100 backstroke and 200 butterfly, Regan Smith couldn’t quite get it done in the 200 backstroke despite her status as the fastest-ever swimmer in history. Smith swam to gold in the event at 2019 Worlds with a 2:03.69 and was more than 3 seconds slower here with a 2:06.79 for third place.

Taking advantage of the situation, Rhyan White swam to a 2:05.73 victory in the event to add a second event in Tokyo along with the 100 backstroke. Phoebe Bacon meanwhile came in at a 2:06.46 for second place, qualifying for her first Olympic squad.

Women’s 200 Backstroke Final Race Video

Race recap originally reported by James Sutherland

WOMEN’S 200 BACK FINAL

  • World Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • American Record: Regan Smith – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Missy Franklin (USA) – 2:05.68 (2013)
  • World Junior Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado (USA) – 2:05.99
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:06.90
  • Wave I Cut: 2:14.69
  • Wave II Cut: 2:12.94
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:10.39
  1. Rhyan White (BAMA), 2:05.73
  2. Phoebe Bacon (WA), 2:06.46
  3. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:06.79

In doubtedly the biggest upset of the meet, Rhyan White is the Olympic Trials winner in the women’s 200 backstroke and reigning world champion and world record holder Regan Smith won’t swim the event in Tokyo.

The top-four swimmers were tight through the first 150—Smith led the way, with White, Phoebe Bacon and Isabelle Stadden trailing close behind.

After Smith flipped first by two tenths at the final turn, White took off down the final 50. White pulled into the lead, and then all of a sudden, Bacon began moving past Smith down the stretch.

White, who trains at Alabama, ended up winning by a decisive 73 one-hundredths of a second, clocking 2:05.73 to demolish her previous best of 2:07.07 and become the third-fastest American woman of all-time. The 21-year-old also moves into third in the world this season.

White was by far the fastest closer in 31.96, and Bacon ended up being the only other swimmer in the field sub-33, as the rising Wisconsin sophomore came back in 32.67—more than half a second faster than Smith—to snag second in 2:06.46 and qualify for the Olympic team.

Bacon’s previous best time was a 2:06.84, set at Pro Swim Series meet in Indianapolis in May, where she notably out-touched Smith by a few one-hundredths.

Smith tied up coming home and finishes a shocking third in 2:06.79, more than three seconds off her world record set in 2019 (2:03.35). The 19-year-old will still have the 100 back and 200 fly to race in Tokyo.

Cal’s Stadden fell off the pace on the last 50 as well, ultimately taking fourth in 2:07.86, having set a PB of 2:07.28 last month.

Kathleen Baker misses out on her final opportunity to make the Olympic team, taking fifth in 2:08.78.

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Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Regan was finished when she hadn’t opened up a margin at 125 meters. I thought the remainder of that race was the most predictable stretch all week. For anyone bothering to pay attention Regan flattens out and tightens up every time after the final underwater. It is particularly true when she has others alongside her, whether it’s White or Bacon or Flickinger. Only during clear sailing is she able to relax and carry longer. Classic example of playground pecking order meaning more than a world record. I loved the nonchalant reaction of Bacon and White when Michele Tafoya asked the absurd question about being intimidated by the world record holder. Bacon and White properly responded that they race against Regan… Read more »

Jonathankkh
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

I totally disagree. Michael Andrew’s fly and die style works for him because he can afford to do so knowing well that no one in the race is close to catching him on the last 50, but that strategy could easily backfire if someone with better endurance chooses not to let him get too far ahead at 150. Regan must have known that she was in for a close race before the final and should have adopted a more controlled, evenly-split kind of tactic. The differential of her splits 1:01.01/1:05.78 is 4.77, compare that to 2.61 when she broke the world record with a more controlled 1:00.37/1:02.98, which tells us going out so/too fast is just not the right way… Read more »

MX4x50relay
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

She’s had a long week. That was her eleventh swim. Most of them were 200s and also half of those 200s were butterfly

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  MX4x50relay
1 month ago

This is true but it shows how ridiculous Phelps was. The level of his performances across a big meet with a huge program were unreal.

There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
1 month ago

The flip side of this is what ridiculous times could we have seen from MP if he swam a smaller program?

No doubt he did the right thing by e.g. swimming 8 events in Beijing, but it does make you wonder.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Her bigger problem this week was in not conserving energy during early rounds of each event. She didn’t need to do a 57-mid in fly to make the semis, she didn’t need to do a 58 in the 100 back prelims or a 57.99 to make the 100 back final, and she didn’t need to do fast rounds in the 200 fly or back. The Aussies had an easy prelims swim, no semis. Just inexperience from her coach and her. MA was the only one who got away with that in a multi-event program, and his were not killers like 2 fly and 2 back. She needs mentoring from Aaron Peirsol, who was the master of managing rounds of racing.

Same Same
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

I think she probably felt she needed to do well in prelims and semis to keep her confidence up. There was a lot of pressure on her. In her interviews she seemed to keep saying “I’m having fun and enjoying myself” but always came across as being very anxious and stressed so I don’t think it would’ve been good for her mentally to qualify in 3rd or 4th.

Tate
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Inexperience by Mike Parratto? Do you follow swimming?

Same Same
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

Yeah I didn’t like that the interviewer kept asking both those girls about Smith. She gave the impression that those two had zero experience and have just blossomed out of nowhere – not that they’ve had some of the fastest times this season.

Jonathankkh
1 month ago

Reply to Awsi Dooger:

I totally disagree. Michael Andrew’s fly and die style works for him because he can afford to do so knowing well that no one in the race is close to catching him on the last 50, but that strategy could easily backfire if someone with better endurance chooses not to let him get too far ahead at 150. Regan must have known that she was in for a close race before the final and should have adopted a more controlled, evenly-split kind of tactic. The differential of her splits 1:01.01/1:05.78 is 4.77, compare that to 2.61 when she broke the world record with a more controlled 1:00.37/1:02.98, which tells us going out so/too fast is… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by Jonathankkh
The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  Jonathankkh
1 month ago

Agree that 200 Back is not the same as 200IM. I think the scenario tou describe may happen at the Olympics as Duncan Scott has the endurance. If he is within 1.5 seconds of MA at 150 he wins. If I was Scott I would be working on that basis and would swim my normal race in prelims and semis than be out quicker in the final to surprise MA. While MA has the best time and is favourite I thibk Scott has a great chance.

Same scenario here. If you go out fast you are there to be taken down. Smith didn’t want to be the rabbit/was perhaps too tired to be the rabbit but we know her best… Read more »

Joe
1 month ago

Why you don’t swim 2 Fly

Stewie
Reply to  Joe
1 month ago

yOu CaN’t CoMmEnT CuZ YoU’rE nOt An OlYmPiAn

Emerson
1 month ago

Following 2019 WC:
Smith: hmmm, records in 100 and 200 back. Think i’ll try another stroke.
Voice in Smith head: dont do it Reagan.
Following 2021 OT:
Smith: that didnt work.
Voice in Smith head: dumba**

Pool
Reply to  Emerson
1 month ago

She didn’t just “try” another stroke. She’s always been amazing at fly as well, breaking multiple age group records over the years.

Voice in Emerson’s head: dumba**

Emerson
Reply to  Pool
1 month ago

Agree in age group she was outstanding in fly; however, as a senior she has not done much nationally and virtually nothing internationally. I think had she focused on back only, she would have been a lock for gold in 2back with an excellent chance for gold in 1back. Now I think she has a good chance for gold in the 1back and only a fair chance for a medal in the 2fly.

Tomek
1 month ago

When Reagan set her world record she had a very limited program, she was rested and she rode on a wave of emotions representing USA for the first time. She is still one of the best backstrokers in the world but it will not get any easier.

Pool
1 month ago

Regan showed that she’s human and she still had an amazing week. She has nothing to be ashamed of. I hope she can relax a little bit now and go to Tokyo with a smile and enjoy the experience.

Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

Well, if you’re going to bomb, it might as well be in trials for the asterisk Olympics.

Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

Race video for people outside of USA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJY8Kky3RU4