2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES
- When: Pool swimming: Saturday, July 24 – Sunday, August 1, 2021
- Open Water swimming: Wednesday, August 4 – Thursday, August 5, 2021
- Where: Olympic Aquatics Centre / Tokyo, Japan
- Heats: 7 PM / Semifinals & Finals: 10:30 AM (Local time)
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Regan Smith put up the fifth-fastest 100 backstroke swim of all-time with a 57.64, though it won’t official count for records or rankings.
Smith led off the United States 4×100 mixed medley relay tonight in Tokyo, swimming that 57.64. Mixed relay leadoff splits are not eligible for world records due to the potential drafting advantages of a female backstroker swimming next to men. But the time would check in as the #5 swim of all-time in the women’s 100 back, and is faster than Smith’s swims in the individual 100 back earlier this week.
Top Performances All-Time, Women’s 100 Back
- Kaylee McKeown – 57.45 (2021)
- Kaylee McKeown – 57.47 (2021)
- Regan Smith – 57.57 (2019)
- Kaylee McKeown – 57.63 (2021)
- Unofficial: Regan Smith – 57.64 (2021)
- Kylie Masse – 57.70 (2021)
The 19-year-old Smith took bronze in the 100 back final, going 58.05. She was 57.96 to briefly set an Olympic record in heats, then 57.86 to re-set the Olympic record in the semifinals.
A first-time Olympian, Smith has been adjusting to the pressure of the Olympic stage. Her 100 back bronze was a key milestone as her first-ever Olympic medal, but also came two years after she set the world record in 2019. Smith actually bounced back for a better medal (silver) in an off-event later in the week – she finished second in the 200 fly.
It appears Smith might be getting better as the meet goes on, adjusting to the Olympic stage and perhaps not feeling as much pressure now that she’s away from the individual event where she was considered an Olympic gold favorite after her international breakout at age 17. Smith has also proven to be a very good relay swimmer, breaking that 2019 world record on a relay leadoff.
Smith’s big swim this morning is notable for two key reasons. First, it sets up a tough choice for Team USA as to who will swim the final in the mixed medley relay. Both Smith and Ryan Murphy won Olympic bronze in their individual 100 backs. Both have broken world records leading off relays, and both have a shot to be the fastest leadoff swimmer in their gender in the mixed relay final.
Using Smith, though, would allow Team USA to potentially swim Caeleb Dressel and Michael Andrew on that relay in the final.
The other big impact is on the women’s medley relay, where the United States set a world record in 2019 in the same race where Smith led off in her own individual world record. Australia is expected to be a strong challenger to Team USA, boasting the 100 back gold medalist and 100 fly bronze medalist, not to mention a medal contender in the 100 free. If Smith can match or better the leadoff leg of Australia’s Kaylee McKeown, though, the balance tips much more in favor of the United States, which would then get a lead and clean water for their significant breaststroke advantage.
Canada should also be in the gold medal hunt, and Smith’s battle with 100 back silver medalist Kylie Masse is equally important, with the United States also holding a significant breaststroke advantage over Canada.