SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.
Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers to predict the national leader in the women’s 100 back by the end of this summer season:
Question: Who will be the top American W100 backstroker by the end of this summer?
43.5% of voters predicted that Kathleen Baker would remain the top 100 backstroker in the nation this summer.
The event provides an interesting mix of candidates, from the established leader to the in-season superstar to the rising youngster. Baker won last summer’s national title in 58.57, then went 58.58 to take silver at Worlds. She was also 58.54 leading off the gold-medal 4×100 medley relay, the fastest time of any American for the year.
In 2016, it was Olivia Smoliga who won U.S. Olympic Trials, but while both women went faster in Rio, it was Baker who ended with the nation’s fastest time (58.75) and the Olympic silver medal. Smoliga has been stellar so far this year, though, with the top time in the nation (59.14), while Baker has yet to break a minute. Smoliga also set the American record in the 50 back in April. Despite that recent dominance, Smoliga finished third in our poll with just under a quarter of the votes.
Then there’s Regan Smith. The 16-year-old Minnesotan is considered by many the future of U.S. backstroking. Last summer, she was hot on the heels of the vets, going 58.95 and setting a world junior record of 59.11. (Her 58.95 was leading off a mixed medley relay, which is ineligible for world or world junior records). She was the World Junior champion in both the 100 and 200 back, and made the senior World Championships team in the 200. 28.7% of voters saw her passing up Baker and Smoliga this coming summer.
Meanwhile 4.4% picked against the top 3. Last summer, the closest challengers were Hannah Stevens (59.40) and Ali Deloof (59.43), while this summer has already seen fast times from Deloof (59.79) and youngsters Isabelle Stadden (1:00.06) and Phoebe Bacon (1:00.09).
Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Poll, which asks voters to predict an even wilder event: the men’s 100 breaststroke. In the interest of keeping the poll from taking up our entire homepage with viable options, we’ve only included athletes who have broken a minute last season or this season:
The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner