Rhyan White Upsets World Record-Holder To Win 200 Back; #3 American All-Time


Alabama’s Rhyan White upset world record-holder Regan Smith to win U.S. Olympic Trials in the 200 back. Her time moves her to #3 all-time among Americans.

White was second to Smith earlier this week in the 100 back, and even that was considered an upset for White. Tonight, though, White surged over the back half, running down Smith and taking over as the only female two-distance backstroker on the U.S. Olympic team.

White’s time of 2:05.73 dropped 1.3 seconds off her career-best set earlier this year at the Atlanta Classic. White blasted a 2:07.07 at that meet to enter the top 10 Americans all-time. Here at Trials, the 21-year-old was pretty controlled through heats (2:08.92) and semifinals (2:08.39), placing third behind Smith and Phoebe Bacon in both rounds.

Tonight, White swam by both of them late, and she and Bacon earned the two Olympic entry spots for Team USA. Bacon went 2:06.46, improving her personal best by four-tenths of a second, though she actually slips to #9 all-time among U.S. swimmers with White passing her.

White trails only the two most-recent world record-setters in this event:

Top U.S. Performers All-Time, Women’s 200 Back

  1. Regan Smith (2019) – 2:03.35
  2. Missy Franklin (2012) – 2:04.06
  3. Rhyan White (2021) – 2:05.73
  4. Maya DiRado (2016) – 2:05.99
  5. Margaret Hoelzer (2008) – 2:06.09
  6. Kathleen Baker (2018) – 2:06.14
  7. Elizabeth Beisel (2012) – 2:06.18
  8. Elizabeth Pelton (2013) – 2:06.29
  9. Phoebe Bacon (2021) – 2:06.46
  10. Isabelle Stadden (2021) – 2:07.28

Bacon improves her standing as the #3 U.S. swimmer of all-time in the 17-18 age group. Bacon, who just finished her freshman year at Wisconsin, is 18. Both Smith and Franklin set their world record swims (#1 and #2 above) while in the 17-18 age group, and Bacon trails only those two.

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Mandi Bell
1 year ago

Congratulations to Rhyan!!! Great role model!

1 year ago

Congratulations Rhyan! We are rooting for an Olympic Upset too!

1 year ago

In terms of Regan Smith, her situation is really uncommon given the pandemic and that she suddenly went much faster than anyone else in a very small window at Gwangju. It’s really easy to over-estimate how long swimmers can sustain a peak – it’s really not at all unusual for swimmers to be devastating for just a year or so in their teens. 

I also don’t think it helps psychologically when swimmers aim to ‘recapture’ or ‘hold on’ to previous excellence. I don’t know but there’s a sense that Smith has been swimming against her past self a bit.

I often think Phelps’s longevity was at least partly because he was constantly motivated by fresh challenges rather than trying to… Read more »

Reply to  Jamie5678
1 year ago

Every athlete deals with adversity in his/her own manner.

1 year ago

Amazing swim Rhyan! Way to take it home!

The unoriginal Tim
1 year ago

At least Regan is on the team for two other events. A lot can happen in two years. Regan can absolutely bounce back.

I can’t help but think if she was British and this happend they would just use a ridiculous QT to boot Bacon and put Reagan in. This way is better but painful.

1 year ago

In 84′ Craig Beardsley didn’t make it in 2Fl while World Record Holder right? The agony and the ecstasy.

Reply to  JimSwim22
1 year ago

Remember Kurt Krumholz (sp?)?

1 year ago

Of Note: The 200m back is before Bacon’s birthday so there’s till a chance for her to move up in the NAG rankings!

1 year ago

Sad. IMHO Reagan should not have forced the fly, just keep the 100, 200 backs

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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