Regan Smith Leads Off Mixed Medley Heat in 57.64, Unofficially #5 Swim All-Time

2020 TOKYO SUMMER OLYMPIC GAMES

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

  1. Kaylee McKeown – 57.45 (2021)
  2. Kaylee McKeown – 57.47 (2021)
  3. Regan Smith – 57.57 (2019)
  4. Kaylee McKeown – 57.63 (2021)
    1. Unofficial: Regan Smith – 57.64 (2021)
  5. 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 McKeownthough, 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.

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Coach Rob
1 month ago

BIG QUESTION: Should the USA use Michael Andrew or go with Wilson or Fink? Michael Andrew will have the 50 free semi final right before. Knowing Andrew to be a “one swim per session and done” type of swimmer, I would choose a rested Wilson or Fink to blast a 58 on the relay instead of Andrew.

Drake
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Andrew earned his spot at trials. Wilson went 59 today so the only real option would be Fink

MichaelTran
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Using Andrew is such dangerous. He will suck.

cynthia curran
Reply to  MichaelTran
1 month ago

Andrew sucks in 200’s not 100’s anyways. He got 4th in the 100 meter breaststroke. HIs problem is the past 50 of a 200 meter. So, I would pick him.

jonathankkh
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

Why can’t they swim Jacoby instead? She will be well-rested. I think the best lineup for this relay is
Murphy-Jacoby-Huske-Dressel

MichaelTran
Reply to  jonathankkh
1 month ago

Jacoby will be destroyed by Peaty by 8s.

Togger
Reply to  jonathankkh
1 month ago

Jacoby to Peaty is 8 seconds. Using a woman on breastroke virtually never makes sense on the maths.

jonathankkh
Reply to  Togger
1 month ago

We need to look at the combined results of all 4 legs, not just one breaststroke leg, whatever deficit could be made up if all four swimmers perform their best.

Togger
Reply to  jonathankkh
1 month ago

But the combined result will almost always be slower with a woman on breast. Jacoby to MA is circa 6 seconds if MA goes 58 low, the equivalent for other legs would be Murph getting the world record, Dressel going 48 mid or the freestyler going 45 high/46 low.

Last edited 1 month ago by Togger
Jamie5678
Reply to  jonathankkh
1 month ago

Breaststroke leg is disproportionately important in a medley and this is then stretched further in the mixed. They spend longer in the water. So it’s a bit like having one leg that is 120 metres. It’s why most teams put a woman on freestyle – they spend the least amount of time in the water.

You’d need a very good reason to put a woman on the breaststroke.

Last edited 1 month ago by Jamie5678
Njones
Reply to  Jamie5678
1 month ago

Correct. And for a few years the US had a weak Male 59sec breast leg vs a lights out 104 King. Plus mentally she would have had no issue trying to ‘stay’ with the men first 50 ;). The next variable was that Dressel was so lights out on fly vs ‘Ave’ female fly that this double switch made sense. Now with Andrew and Huske, not so much.

Njones
Reply to  Togger
1 month ago

It only matters Jacoby vs Andrew differential which is 6sec vs the other US legs. Smith to Murphy is 5, Huske to Dressel is closer to 6, Weitzel to Apple is 5.5 to 6. All things being equal you go MMWW to avoid the wash. But Smith is to close to Murphy so time wise you should go WMMW here for US.

issac
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I will choose Jacoby or king for breaststroke, smith for backstroke and Dressel and Apple for the last two legs.

Max Hardie
Reply to  Coach Rob
1 month ago

I don´t like Andrew, he underperforms under pressure. Why not Smith-Jacoby-Dressel-Apple? That shoud be faster than Andrew in breast and Weitzel in free. Apple did well in 4×100 on day 2.

issac
Reply to  Max Hardie
1 month ago

Yeah thats what I thought too because the weakest leg for women is freestyle and for men its breaststroke So I would with apple and jacoby for 4th and 2nd leg

Ytho
Reply to  Max Hardie
1 month ago

Read Togger’s response before suggesting a female breastroker pls

BillyBob
Reply to  Max Hardie
1 month ago

How about add up the numbers let us know what you think after that.

96Swim
Reply to  Max Hardie
1 month ago

I don’t know that MA underperforms under pressure, but so far, he’s been slower than he was at trials, and he has no relay history. Best combo I can come up with is Smith/Male Breastroker/dressel/weitzell, though if you think the best you’re going to get out of the male breaststroker is 59.0, maybe take a shot with Jacoby and hope she goes 104.5 (not that much of a stretch based on 104.8 flat start), and close with Dressel/Apple, and hope Zapple anchors in 46.6 again.

RI Swimmer
Reply to  Max Hardie
1 month ago

Hate to say it but it’d be a big mistake to lead with 2 ladies. On paper, this may work out but Jacoby (and Smith) will be swimming through crazy wake if they lead off. Even though US men’s Breast is weak, its better to get to the clean water and try to hang on. Maybe Smith-Andrew-Huske-Dressel?? I wouldn’t wanna be the US coaching staff rn….

CACrushers
1 month ago

Jared, do you think it had an impact that she swam next to a 54?

LBWIM
Reply to  CACrushers
1 month ago

Hopefully we will see in the women’s relay. Would love to see her do it again! Go Regan!

mds
1 month ago

Smith – Fink/Andrew – Huske – Dressel (Fink v. Andrew after consideration of his ability to double after 50 free semifinal earlier in session; PB differential only 0.31; I don’t recall Andrew being that good at it, compared to Dressel even doing a triple(i.e. SEC’s, NCAA’s, etc.)

Littlefin
1 month ago

Out of interest, if the reason this time is unofficial is because of “the potential drafting advantages of a female backstroker swimming next to men”, are male lead-off splits eligible for world records?

thezwimmer
Reply to  Littlefin
1 month ago

No, since they could also gain an advantage by having clean water next to them from swimming beside a female.

Coach Chackett
Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

Do Time Trials still Count for world records? (Popov 50m Free)

iLikePsych
Reply to  Coach Chackett
1 month ago

Yes they do. It’s not a perfect rule, but it’s an attempt at the cleanest solution.

The ‘but drafting!!’ argument ignores the fact that it technically would be legal to break the WR by having someone of the same gender swim next to you and draft you. E.g. if Maggie Macneil swam her 100 split for Yufei to draft off her, and then Yufei went on to break Liu Zige’s WR. And then as you mentioned, the clean water doesn’t actually matter since clean water on both sides would be legal during TTs

PVSFree
Reply to  iLikePsych
1 month ago

That’d be fun to set up a meet where the goal is to break as many WR’s as possible. Employ the strategies you just outlined – get some rabbits and have people draft off of them

PeachyBum
Reply to  thezwimmer
1 month ago

This is dumb. What about the countless meets in which there are swimmers not nearly as fast as the first seed? I get that it’s the olympics but plenty of men can’t go as fast as Regan Smith and their times would count if not for it being the mixed medley.

Big T
1 month ago

No way any team can have a female on the beastroke leg with Peaty there. Peaty is gonna blitz the field just need a male to stop the bleeding

Swammer
Reply to  Big T
1 month ago

I think y’all forget the WR set by the USA went Murphy-King-Dressel-Manuel.

Big T
Reply to  Swammer
1 month ago

Well King isn’t even the best female beastroker from the USA anymore while Manuel has been in great decline lately.

BillyBob
Reply to  Big T
1 month ago

Are you seriously responding with this comment? You don’t understand what he said at all. He’s pointing out that the WR had a woman on breaststroke. He’s not saying to do that lineup. You said no way a team can do a woman on breast but the WR was set by such a team.

Definitely Not Sun Yang
1 month ago

I hope the coaches learned from the 4×2 relay debacles that it’s not about making sure everyone who qualified gets to swim (unfortunately). It’s about sending the best four in the final: Smith, Jacoby, Dressel, Apple,

jonathankkh
Reply to  Definitely Not Sun Yang
1 month ago

I was thinking of the same lineup too, might be a little risky but the last two legs must be able to make up the difference and it would be nice to give Apple a chance to redeem himself.

Mustangswimdad
Reply to  jonathankkh
1 month ago

If Dressel were to swim the 4×2 it would have cost him the gold in the 100 Free. Gold > Bronze

PVSFree
Reply to  Mustangswimdad
1 month ago

Even Seliskar or Pieroni would’ve been good enough for silver on the 4×2

NC Fan
1 month ago

Maybe I’m being a hater, but does Andrew have any relay history? He never swam club, high school, or college, so maybe that’s why he seems more of a ‘me’ rather than ‘us’ guy, but some swimmers really step up for a relay…Fink seems like one of those guys though I don’t have the data to back it up.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  NC Fan
1 month ago

Swam a relay at Junior Worlds, Pan-Pacs, and prelims at Worlds. He did fine.

BillyBob
Reply to  NC Fan
1 month ago

I toooooootally agree. The coaches should build the relay based on who “seems like one of those guys.” That’s definitely not stupid at all.

The White Whale
1 month ago

“A first-time Olympian, Smith has been adjusting to the pressure of the Olympic stage.”

Is this fair? She’s got a silver and bronze medal already. It’s not like she didn’t even make finals or something.

Last edited 1 month ago by The White Whale
There's no doubt that he's tightening up
Reply to  The White Whale
1 month ago

Yes. She looked very nervy at trials, and missed the team in her best event, which she is still the WR holder in. No shame necessarily in placing behind McKeown and Masse in the 100 back, but Smith went her slowest time in the final.

These results do suggest that the pressure got to her a bit. However, since those 200 fly swims things have been looking much more positive, which is fantastic.

The White Whale

I agree that the pressure got to her at Trials, but hard to be too negative about her 100 back performance in Tokyo. That final was just a shootout.

Smith-Jacoby-Huske-Weitzeil
Reply to  The White Whale
1 month ago

The assessment is fair. Meanwhile, Claire Curzan completely bombed out of the women’s 100 meter butterfly.

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

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