The Split: Teen Heat, Veteran Heat in W. 100 Back on Tap for Saturday AM in SA


There were a handful of major scratches for Saturday’s prelims session at the 2021 USA Swimming Pro Swim Series opener in San Antonio, Texas. In all cases, though, it appears as though the athletes have not made the trip and won’t be competing in the meet.

Matthew JosaBrooke FordeLinnea MackChris WieserArik Katz, and Olivia MacMurray were the most notable names absent from the heat sheets.

There will likely be more scratches on Saturday morning, but given the limited invite-only nature of the meet, there is even less pressure for swimmers to scratch ahead of morning prelims sessions. For example, we saw Chase Kalisz scratch the 100 breaststroke prelims on Friday, though he still entered the 400 IM.

Saturday’s prelims session is scheduled to have a number of highlight races. Among them will be the women’s 100 backstroke, where the World Record holder Regan Smith will get a crack at one of her main competitors for a spot in that event at the Olympic Games: Phoebe Bacon.

The preliminary heats of that 100 back are unintentionally split by age, at least among the primary contenders. Teens Smith, Bacon, Isabelle Stadden, and Isabel Ivey are in heat 2, while the more veteran swimmers Kathleen BakerOlivia Smoliga, and Beata Nelson are in heat 1.

Overall, that race will feature the top 4 American women in the event since January 1, 2019, plus #7 non-retired swimmer in that time period Isabelle Stadden.

The women’s 50 free will be a highlight race of the prelims session as well, with Abbey Weitzeil and Olivia Smoliga lining up side-by-side in heat 2.

On the men’s side of the pool, the men’s 200 breaststroke has a stacked field, as does the 200 fly (presuming we don’t see any scratches). The 100 back is not an overly-deep event, but there are a few little wrinkles that make it an interesting storyline. If Ryan Murphy, the defending top of the American backstroke group, holds on to the 50 free, he’ll have an interesting double that his primary competitor this weekend Shaine Casas does not.

There’s also the chance to see Dean Farris race the 100 backstroke in long course. After winning a somewhat-surprising NCAA title in the 100 back in 2019 (with much more focus on his freestyle races), Farris has only really made smaller jumps in long course. His best time, from the 2019 US National Championships, is 53.93 – just a 3-tenths of a second drop from what he went a year earlier. In a similar year, he dropped 1.2 seconds in yards.

So, this will be Farris’ opportunity to show if he’s a real contender in this 100 backstroke, or if his Olympic future, for 2021 at least, is in the 100 and 200 freestyles.

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About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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