Regan Smith on Kaylee McKeown’s Record-Breaking Swim: “It Inspired Me.”

2021 U.S. OLYMPIC SWIMMING TRIALS

Lilly King and Regan Smith punched their Tokyo tickets tonight in the 100 breast and 100 back, respectively. King will represent the USA for the second-straight Games, while King earned her first Olympic berth.

In a post-session press conference, King said she wasn’t super happy with the way she raced tonight, but praised 2nd-place finisher Lydia Jacobs and what her Olympic qualification would mean for the state of Alaska.

Yeah, speaking strictly on performance, I was not very happy with that race. That was pretty sloppy. But that’s okay because that means I definitely have more to work on and more in the tank for the big dance coming up here.

But as far as Lydia, I’m very excited. I wasn’t completely shocked. I knew it was going to be a very, very tight race between her and Annie, but yeah, it’s awesome. I love to see more representation. I know Indiana is a pretty big swimming state, but coming from a smaller area that’s not as well known for swimming, that’s a big deal. That’s a big deal. It’s going to be a really big deal in her hometown and in her home state, and I’m really excited for her.

King was also asked about comments she made the other day, when she said that the USA women could sweep gold in Tokyo, and King again explained she was merely stating that the US women have the talent to give them “the possibility and chance to win all the gold medals” in Tokyo and that she “wasn’t trying to stir anything up.”

Smith talked about her reaction to Kaylee McKeown’s breaking Smith’s world record in the 100 back. Smith said that McKeown inspired her, and that she texted her congratulations after the record-breaking swim.

I was honestly very happy for her. I mean, she’d been very close to it multiple times, and so it was cool to see her grab it. We have a great relationship. We don’t know each other super well, but I always send her a congratulatory text. I was really genuinely honestly happy for her, and then it inspired me because I’ve had a tough year, I’ve had my fair share of bad swims this year, and seeing her do so amazing over this whole pandemic has been extremely inspiring.

Reported by James Sutherland

WOMEN’S 100 BACK FINAL

  1. Regan Smith (RIPT), 58.35
  2. Rhyan White (BAMA), 58.60
  3. Olivia Smoliga (ABSC), 58.72

In one of the most highly anticipated finals of the meet, Regan Smith came through over an elite field to win the women’s 100 backstroke and qualify for her first Olympic team.

Smith, who set the (now former) world record in this event at the 2019 World Championships in 57.57, blasted out to an early lead on the opening 50 in 27.90, two-tenths under Australian Kaylee McKeown‘s newly-minted world record pace.

On the second 50, where Smith usually shines, she tied up a bit, losing ground to a hard-charging Rhyan White and Olivia Smoliga, but held on sufficiently for a final time of 58.35.

The 19-year-old Smith set a new U.S. Open Record of 57.92 in the semi-finals, but it was all about getting on the team in this race (not unlike Michael Andrew’s 100 breast swim from last night).

The race for second saw White (58.60) out-touch 2016 winner Smoliga (58.72) for an Olympic spot, making her (possibly) the first Youth Olympian to make the U.S. Olympic team.

None of the eight finalists swam a personal best time.

WOMEN’S 100 BREAST FINAL

  1. Lilly King (ISC), 1:04.79
  2. Lydia Jacoby (STSC), 1:05.28
  3. Annie Lazor (MVN), 1:05.60

Lilly King jumped on it early and locked in her spot on a second U.S. Olympic team, roaring to victory in the women’s 100 breaststroke in a time of 1:04.79—just shy of her world-leading 1:04.72 from the semis and the fourth-fastest swim of her career.

Lydia Jacoby, the 17-year-old out of Alaska, becomes the state’s first Olympic swimmer in the second spot, lowering her 17-18 National Age Group Record from the semi-finals in the process.

Jacoby went 1:05.71 last night, and after turning fifth at the 50 in 30.94, made her way through the field to take second in 1:05.28, notably out-splitting everyone (including King) with a 34.34 back-half.

King’s training partner in Bloomington, Annie Lazor, settled for third in 1:05.60, having swam a PB of 1:05.37 yesterday.

With Jacoby’s swim tonight and King and Lazor’s from the semis factored, the U.S. women now own the top three spots in the world this year.

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Deepblue
1 month ago

If a non-swimming fan saw this, they would never guess who the professional swimmer is between these two.

Margalis Stan
1 month ago

Love the sportsmanship Regan is showing! I know that if my WR was broken, I would be super pissed, block that person, and maybe even write a whole burn book on them lmao

Robbos
Reply to  Margalis Stan
1 month ago

Yes Mckeown made in known to the Australian media that Regan texted her after her World record & was touch by the sentiment.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Margalis Stan
1 month ago

I was shocked to hear how nervous Regan Smith prior to the race. I figured that since Regan Smith has been on the international scene since the 2017 FINA World Aquatics Championships at the age of 15 that the aforementioned international experience would assist in the current environment.

Meow
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 month ago

I think the last ~18 months must have been just a pressure cooker for her.

The unoriginal Tim
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 month ago

Since her 2019 breakout she hasn’t had an opportunity to repeat her amazing swims due to Covid so she didn’t have the opportunity to build on the success and build confidence she would have otherwise. It must feel like starting again.

Anyway she delivered here and will feel confodent heading to Tokyo. A very good race in prospect.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  The unoriginal Tim
1 month ago

Regan Smith looked fantastic at the 2020 TYR Pro Swim Series – Des Moines. Regan Smith posted personal best times in the women’s 100 meter butterfly and the women’s 200 meter butterfly. The aforementioned 2020 TYR Pro Swim Series stop was the last event prior to the coronavirus pandemic putting a halt to swimming competitions. Hence, the proverbial needle across the record halted Regan Smith’s momentum altogether.

Paul P
Reply to  Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
1 month ago

Why would living in Minnesota and not being able to train make anyone nervous? Not to mention knowing you get tested every 4 days and knowing your Olympics is done with one positive Covid test. (False positive or not)

Sunny Cal
1 month ago

Lilly, just being her regular “cocky” self.

Smith-King-Huske-Manuel
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

A huge slice of humble pie in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke would do some good.

RMS
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

It’s not a good look.

Irish Ringer
Reply to  Sunny Cal
1 month ago

Just the eye test by looking at the comments over the years but Lily seems to be one of the least liked elite swimmers.

Big Poppa Pump
1 month ago

Lilly King acting like her usual obnoxious self…sheesh

Swimfan
Reply to  Big Poppa Pump
1 month ago

Maybe she acts like that on purpose so she won’t let nerves get to her have u every thought of that

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Swimfan
1 month ago

No, because she acts the same after she wins the race. It’s a character trait, and a pretty ugly one.

Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

Both women are great champions. Both women hold world records.
They have just a total opposite behavior.
Lilly King is one of the cockiest athletes ever. Only Zlatan is above her. And it’s a good thing for an athlete to be confident. Looks like she’s insensitive to pressure and in contrary it helps her. But she just makes everything to be disliked by most of the fans.
While it’s hard to not like Regan Smith. She seems to be a very nice young woman.

M d e
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

Lily will be fine as long as she keeps winning.

When (and it’s not if, it’s when) she loses she is going to be mocked mercilessly by people that are saying they like her now.

Ultimately I think she’s alright, definitely don’t love everything about how she conducts herself, and some of her comments and behaviour this week has been in poor taste, but she also has had some great moments in the past.

Her reaction to her 200 brst DQ a few years back was hilarious, and a very admirable way too handle the situation.

She is an interesting character. We have so few of them in the sport.

Last edited 1 month ago by M d e
Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Bobo Gigi
1 month ago

Give me Ledecky confidence every time over King’s act. King holds only one LCM WR right now. She’s never made an Olympic final in the 200 breast. Yet, she acts like she’s a sports legend. Her insecurity, the driving force behind her cockiness, is pretty phenomenal.

Old Man Chalmers
Reply to  Ol' Longhorn
1 month ago

one event, and doesn’t have anything like the dominance of peaty

Roch
1 month ago

I will never understand the Lilly haters. Everyone else’s press conference is boring AF, just some variation of “I’ve been training really hard, pretty pleased with the time but I think I can do a little better, just glad to make the team.” Why ask someone for their thoughts and opinions of you don’t actually want to hear it? If you want platitudes and PR scripts, we’ve got plenty of boring athletes you can hear from, just skip Lilly’s conference and move on. There’s really no need to be ugly about it here. She doesn’t say anything bad about anyone else, she’s just confident in herself, and I find that refreshing.