SwimSwam Pulse: 44% Pick Baker To Join Smith in 100 Back in Tokyo

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 pick the most likely U.S. Olympian in the 100 back, not including world record-holder Regan Smith:


Question: Who is more likely to make the 2020 U.S. Olympic team in the 100 back?

44.4% of voters said Kathleen Baker was the most likely non-Regan Smith backstroker to make next summer’s Olympic team in the 100 back.

In overall context, that’s actually a fairly low figure for someone just a year removed from setting the world record in this event. Baker went 58.00 last summer and was the breakout star of U.S. Nationals with wins in the 100 back, 200 back and 200 IM.

A rib injury cut in on her training this season, and Baker was a ways off her mark with a season-best of 59.03.

Olivia Smoliga was second in this poll. She’s also the fastest U.S. performer this year behind Smith at 58.73. There’s a pretty significant dropoff from Smoliga (38.3%) to the two junior swimmers in our poll (12.3% and 5.0%), indicating that fans are still more bullish on the tested veterans (and 2016 Olympians) than the rising youngsters not named Smith.

Pan Ams champ Phoebe Bacon (a lifetime-best 59.02 this year at age 16) finished third in our poll, with World University Games champ Katharine Berkoff (lifetime-best 59.29 this year at age 18) fourth.

Our poll only included the top four in the World ranks this year, stopping with the next swimmer, now-retired Elise Haan. But also under a minute this season were Amy Bilquist (59.64) and Isabelle Stadden (59.69), though Stadden might be more of a threat in the 200 back, where she’s ranked 6th this season among Americans, but only a half second out of second.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters who is the most likely candidate to be the top American male breaststroker by next summer’s Olympics:

Who will be the finals breaststroker on the American men's medley relay at the Tokyo Olympics?

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner

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Great article! Looking forward to seeing the backstroke events at trials. I believe the headline should say Tokyo, rather than Rio 🙂

Samuel Huntington

I will say it again – Baker has to be the heavy favorite, she is the second fastest of all time…she should recover from the injury


The Bacon is “sizzling”.


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Awsi Dooger

Baker has to be the favorite. I don’t know about heavy favorite but I did think the 44% was a bit low. Everyone loves to overreact to recency. That kept Baker’s number below what it should be. Along the lines of recency, I am amused that Regan Smith is considered an automatic. Those odds would not be as high as some are assuming either. Yes, it would be massive favoritism but along the lines of 1/4 (80%), and not the 99% apparently assigned here. Not many gamblers here apparently. Tons of things can go wrong nearly a year removed. That’s why there always has to be some play in future odds. The bettor receives a bit of an apparent bonus… Read more »


You have to figure that a 17 year old has more upside than a 22 year old.

Kathleen Baker also suffers from crohn’s disease.


Wilson as of now

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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