Regan Smith Breaks 100 Backstroke World Record in 57.57 on 400 Medley Lead-Off


Swimming the lead-off leg of the women’s 4 x 100 medley relay Sunday night at the 2019 FINA World Championships, American Regan Smith clocked a new World Record in the women’s 100 backstroke with a 57.57. The American team of Smith, Lilly King, Kelsi Dahlia, and Simone Manuel won the gold medal and set a new World Record women’s 4 x 100 medley relay at 3:50.40, the final race of the competition.

Smith’s was the only swimmer to go under 59 seconds on the lead-off leg. Australia’s Minna Atherton turned in the 2nd-fastest split with 59.06, and Canada’s Kylie Masse the 3rd-fastest with a 59.12.

Smith’s time surpasses the previous World Record of 58.00 set by U.S. teammate Kathleen Baker at the 2018 U.S. National Championships. Before today, Smith’s best time and former World Junior Record in the 100 backstroke was 58.45, registered in June at the Counsilman Classic.

Smith did not swim the individual 100 backstroke at the 2019 World Championship. Instead, the United States was represented by Kathleen Baker and Olivia Smoliga. Without Smith, gold went to Canada’s Kylie Masse in 58.60, silver to Australia’s Minna Atherton in 58.85, and bronze to Smoliga in 58.91. Baker finished in a tie for 6th in 59.56.

On Saturday, Smith won the 200 backstroke in 2:03.69, a full 2.57 seconds ahead of silver medalist Kaylee McKeown from Australia, whom she has previously exchanged the World Junior Record in the 200 backstroke with since the 2017 World Championships. Canadian Kylie Masse won bronze in 2:06.62, just ahead of Italian Margherita Panziera of Italy, who hit the all 4th in 2:06.67.

Though she blew away the field in the finals of the 200 backstroke, Smith set the World Record in the semifinals in an unprecedented 2:03.35. The previous World Record had stood at 2:04.06, set by Missy Franklin in the finals of the 200 backstroke at the 2012 London Olympics. Franklin was also the Olympic champion in the 100 backstroke at the 2012 Olympics, registering a time of 58.33.

Smith’s splits in both the semifinals and the finals of the 200 backstroke were aggressive: In the semifinals when she  clocked an overall time of 2:03.35, the new World Record, Smith flipped at 100 meters at 1:00.37. In the finals, Smith rounded the 100-meter turn in 59.45, a time that would have qualified her 7th for finals in the 100 back and placed 6th overall in the final.

Smith’s 100 Backstroke Split Comparisons:

Smith 2019 Counsilman Prelims Smith 2019 Counsilman Finals Smith 2019 Gwagju Lead-Off
1st 50 28.46 28.30 27.74
2nd 50 30.09 30.15 29.83
FINAL TIME 58.55 58.45 57.57* WORLD RECORD

World Record Split Progression:

Masse – 2017 Baker – 2018 Smith – 2019
1st 50 28.51 27.90 27.74
2nd 50 29.59 30.10 29.83
TOTAL TIME 58.10 58.00 57.57

400 Medley Relay World Record Split Comparison:

United States – 2017 World Championships Splits United States – 2019 World Championships Splits
Kathleen Baker 58.58 Regan Smith 57.57
Lilly King 1:04.48 Lilly King 1:04.81
Kelsi Dahlia 56.30 Kelsi Dahlia 56.16
Simone Manuel 52.23 Simone Manuel 51.86

Smith did not have the opportunity to swim the 100 backstroke individually at these World Championships; at the 2018 U.S. National Championships–the qualifying event for the 2018 Pan Pacific Championships, and, to an extent, the 2019 World Championships–Smith placed 3rd in the 100 backstroke behind Kathleen Baker, who set the World Record at 58.00, and Olivia Smoliga, who out-touched Smith 58.75 to 58.83. At Pan Pacs, Smith finished 4th in 58.95. Though a better placing than Smoliga at Pan Pacs, Smoliga’s faster time from U.S. Nationals won out, and Smith was bumped from the 2019 World Championships team in the 100 backstroke. Full team selection procedures can be found here.

With the 2019 World Championships finished, swimmers in the United States will reset and focus in on the lead-up to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials in Omaha next June, where Smith will undoubtedly be the favorite for the first Olympic berth in the 100 and 200 backstrokes, and potentially much more.


  • World Record: 3:51.55, USA (Baker, King, Dahlia, Manuel), 2017
  • World Championship Record: 3:51.55, USA (Baker, King, Dahlia, Manuel), 2017
  • World Junior Record: 3:58.38, Canada (Hannah, Knelson, Oleksiak, Ruck), 2017
  • Defending 2017 World Champion: USA (Baker, King, Dahlia, Manuel), 3:51.55


  1. GOLD- USA, 3:50.40
  2. SILVER- Australia, 3:53.42
  3. BRONZE- Canada, 3:53.58


  • USA- Smith 57.57*, King 1:04.81, Dahlia 56.16, Manuel 51.86
  • AUS- Atherton 59.06, Hansen 1:06.08, McKeon 56.32, Campbell 51.96
  • CAN- Masse 59.12, Pickrem 1:06.42, MacNeil 55.56, Oleksiak 52.48

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of
newest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2 years ago

Did this just crash the site for a hot sec??? Absolutely remarkable swim!

Prison MIke
Reply to  Dcswim
2 years ago

It did and the comment section looks different too on my computer.

Reply to  Dcswim
2 years ago

Smith Happens.

2 years ago

The splits all around on that relay were just insane

Theroboticrichardsimmo so
2 years ago


Swim chick
2 years ago

I love Regan and am extremely happy for her this meet, but thinking ahead to next year it does make it hard. Baker is so good and was hindered by her injury this meet and and Smogs won medals here, I want them all to make the olympic team!

Reply to  Swim chick
2 years ago

She crush kylee masse kn the opening leg by over 1.5 seconds dang , can they break 3:50 next year?

Reply to  Swimfan
2 years ago

It’s on Lily King to do a 1:03 split to bring the team under 3:50.

Reply to  run-dmc
2 years ago

If Manuel can get down to C1 type splits that would do it too. Tonight was her fastest relay split this week, but it was still only 0.2 quicker than her individual.

Simon dropping a 51.1 would be a significant chunk of time made up.

Reply to  run-dmc
2 years ago

1.04.4 would’ve been good enough today for sub 3.50

2 years ago

OMGG what a beauty to watch her swim!! Pretty sure she would have won all 3 backstrokes (50,100,200) is she competed in all. Nevertheless so excited to see what’s in store for her next year at Omaha and Tokyo!!

Joel Lin
2 years ago

What Smith did this week reminds me of the incident at Brown Deer many years ago.

Reply to  Joel Lin
2 years ago

And Mary T’s 2.05.9 from 38 years ago would’ve won gold in Gwangju by nearly a second.

Reply to  Joel Lin
2 years ago

Nice analogy with the Brown Deer reference! Mary T’s swims from that meet stand alone but those swim by Regan were WAY up the ladder!

2 years ago

Regan broke the SwimSwam server

Braden Keith(@braden)
Reply to  Wondering
2 years ago

She actually broke the dB. It’s the comments and comment voting that’s doing it, not the traffic lol.

Philip Johnson
2 years ago

Smith broke Swim Swam LOL

About Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson

Reid Carlson originally hails from Clay Center, Kansas, where he began swimming at age six.  At age 14 he began swimming club year-round and later with his high school team, making state all four years.  He was fortunate enough to draw the attention of Kalamazoo College where he went on to …

Read More »