Trials Mixed Zone: Phoebe Bacon “The whole age thing… I think it should be thrown out”


Reported by James Sutherland.


  • World Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • American Record: Regan Smith – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • US Open Record: Missy Franklin (USA) – 2:05.68 (2013)
  • World Junior Record: Regan Smith (USA) – 2:03.35 (2019)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Maya DiRado (USA) – 2:05.99
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:06.90
  • Wave I Cut: 2:14.69
  • Wave II Cut: 2:12.94
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:10.39
  1. Rhyan White (BAMA), 2:05.73
  2. Phoebe Bacon (WA), 2:06.46
  3. Regan Smith (RIPT), 2:06.79

In doubtedly the biggest upset of the meet, Rhyan White is the Olympic Trials winner in the women’s 200 backstroke and reigning world champion and world record holder Regan Smith won’t swim the event in Tokyo.

The top-four swimmers were tight through the first 150—Smith led the way, with White, Phoebe Bacon and Isabelle Stadden trailing close behind.

After Smith flipped first by two tenths at the final turn, White took off down the final 50. White pulled into the lead, and then all of a sudden, Bacon began moving past Smith down the stretch.

White, who trains at Alabama, ended up winning by a decisive 73 one-hundredths of a second, clocking 2:05.73 to demolish her previous best of 2:07.07 and become the third-fastest American woman of all-time. The 21-year-old also moves into third in the world this season.

White was by far the fastest closer in 31.96, and Bacon ended up being the only other swimmer in the field sub-33, as the rising Wisconsin sophomore came back in 32.67—more than half a second faster than Smith—to snag second in 2:06.46 and qualify for the Olympic team.

Bacon’s previous best time was a 2:06.84, set at Pro Swim Series meet in Indianapolis in May, where she notably out-touched Smith by a few one-hundredths.

Smith tied up coming home and finishes a shocking third in 2:06.79, more than three seconds off her world record set in 2019 (2:03.35). The 19-year-old will still have the 100 back and 200 fly to race in Tokyo.

Cal’s Stadden fell off the pace on the last 50 as well, ultimately taking fourth in 2:07.86, having set a PB of 2:07.28 last month.

Kathleen Baker misses out in her final opportunity to make the Olympic team, taking fifth in 2:08.78.

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2 years ago

I hate the whole “if you work hard enough anyone can do it mantra”. It gives the impression that the hardest workers are the Olympians. Hard work, talent, a little bit of good fortune…

I bet the third place finishers worked just as hard as did everyone who has done their best at a meet.

Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

At the highest level success has at lot to do with who works the hardest at making the best decisions outside the pool/training.

Mark Warkentin
Reply to  Laneline
2 years ago

No way laneline.

Robert Margalis. Byron Davis. Those are first the two that come to my mind most predominantly. Heartbreaking on both accounts because they were such pros.

Third place finishers at the Olympic Trials are usually hard working, exceptional professionals who did absolutely everything that 1-2 did.

Often times the difference just comes down to fortunate/unfortunate timing. The same exact race two weeks earlier or later would have yielded a different result.

Reply to  SwimMom
2 years ago

Yep, some people just have that natural “feel” for the water, where efficient swimming comes to them almost effortlessly.

And quite frankly, I think being trained in a way that is right for you personally is more important than how “hard” one works in terms of volume/sets. Swimming is a sport that for a long time was about grinding out 8-10 2hour workouts per week, being put through an absolutely torturous amount of hard work, with the expectation that you come out better on the other side. Some people can handle that insane 50-80km per week workload and get better, but others will just find their bodies failing them and their technique coming apart. In reality, if you “failed” under… Read more »

Last edited 2 years ago by MTK
2 years ago

Does she not realize there is no “age thing” for Olympic swimming? Swimmers of any age can qualify for the Olympics. She refers to Katie Ledecky, who made the team at 15, and she is on the team with Katie Grimes, who is currently 15. Also, Amanda Beard made her first Olympics at age 14.

Reply to  Eyeballer
2 years ago

I think she’s more saying don’t let being young make you think you don’t have a chance, encouraging teenagers to believe in themselves

Reply to  Eyeballer
2 years ago

But.. there is a minimal age. The international standard is 13, and national olympic commitees can set a higher bar (16, 18..)
In sports like gymnastics, some countries have repeatedly tried to have athletes below that limit, especially with women in those sports, where body proportions have a huge impact on your performances, and your sport career basically only goes downhill once you begin to go through puberty. Same with dancing… China has been known to cheat in that way, but it’s not the only country.

Last edited 2 years ago by CasualSwimmer

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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