After Slipping on Start in Prelims, Smoliga Time Trials 28.0 50 Back


Athens Bulldogs Swim Club’s Olivia Smoliga, who swam at her last NCAA Championships this March, had time trial redemption in the 50 back this afternoon. During prelims, she finished with a dismal 29.25– certainly not what she was capable of. That result was due to a slip on the start, as she had to pick up from no momentum and swim the 50 back, costing her time and energy. She finished prelims way back in 32nd.

Determined to set the record straight, Smoliga prepped for another 50 back, racing in a time trial between prelims and finals sessions. With a strong start, Smoliga was able to take over a full second off of that time, posting a 28.08.

That time is a best– her first PR in the race since 2013, when she went a 28.34 as a high school senior. It also would’ve been third in prelims, behind only Club Wolverine’s Ali Deloof (27.82) and Missouri’s Hannah Stevens (27.94), and just ahead of Kathleen Baker (28.09).

Smoliga checks in as the 8th-best performer in U.S. history in the 50 LCM back.


  1. Natalie Coughlin – 27.51 – 2015
  2. Rachel Bootsma – 27.68 – 2013
  3. Hayley McGregory – 27.80 – 2008
  4. Ali Deloof – 27.82 – 2017
  5. Jenny Hanselmann – 27.92 – 2011
  6. Hannah Stevens – 27.94 – 2017
  7. Missy Franklin – 27.98 – 2013
  8. Olivia Smoliga – 28.08 – 2017
  9. Kathleen Baker – 28.09 – 2017

All times in red were done today in Indianapolis

Even though Smoliga won’t be in the finals of this event, she could still swim this in Budapest.

Per USA Swimming’s selection procedures, there are two spots (but really one new spot) for the 50s of stroke. Spot 1 goes to the 100 back winner, if they want it. Spot 2 goes to the 50 back winner PROVIDED they have qualified for Worlds on priority 1. Priority 1 means you have either won an Olympic event in Indy, or you were top 4 in the 100 or 200 free.

Then, if all eligible swimmers were to decline to swim the race in Budapest, the next best swimmer ON THE TEAM (no priorities listed, so anyone already on the team could be selected) would get to swim it. If there are enough roster spots, the 2nd-best swimmer on the team will also get to swim it.

So, though Smoliga hasn’t made the team on priority one, she’ll almost definitely be on the 4×100 free relay in Budapest, thus being on the team. She can’t win the 50 back tonight, but if she wins the 100 back tomorrow, she’ll get to do the 50 back, and if tonight’s 50 back winner doesn’t want to swim it in Budapest, she could get selected if those who go faster than 28.08 tonight don’t get selected on the team.

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The silver lining may be that she will be very focused on her start on the 100 back.

If she wins the 100 back, then she gets to swim the 50 anyway.

IMs for days

The 50 selection process seems kind of stupid, why don’t they just do top 2 in the event?

E Gamble

I think it saves them a person. Suppose the top two in both the 50 and 100 are all different people. They would be paying for four separate people verses three to cover the 50 and 100 event. ? I guess if the person that wins the 100 was third or forth in the 50…Oh well. ? Suppose the second place 100 finisher has the faster 50 time? It could happen. This makes no sense.


Not sure Demerae Christiansen ever went that time… sounds crazy to me

About Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon

Karl Ortegon studied sociology at Wesleyan University in Middletown, CT, graduating in May of 2018. He began swimming on a club team in first grade and swam four years for Wesleyan.

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