Ultra Swimmer of the Month: Regan Smith

Ultra Swim Swimmer of the Month is a recurring SwimSwam feature shedding light on a U.S.-based swimmer who has proven themselves over the past month. As with any item of recognition, Swimmer of the Month is a subjective exercise meant to highlight one athlete whose work holds noteworthy context – perhaps a swimmer who was visibly outperforming other swimmers over the month, or one whose accomplishments slipped through the cracks among other high-profile swims. If your favorite athlete wasn’t selected, feel free to respectfully recognize them in our comment section.

It would be a bit of an understatement to say that Regan Smith had a successful June.

It’s no secret that Smith has been lighting it up every time she races since she made the move to Arizona State University to train in the Sun Devil pro group under coach Bob Bowman, and things really came to a head over the past month.

Kicking things off at the Sun Devil Open in early June, Smith broke one of the oldest American Records on the books in the women’s 200 butterfly, clocking 2:03.87 to erase Mary Mohler‘s previous mark of 2:04.14 from 2009.

The performance marked a significant lifetime best for Smith, who had previously been 2:05.30 at the Tokyo Olympics, and it moved her up to fourth all-time in the event. On top of that, it was also the fourth-fastest performance ever, and just one one-hundredth shy of the quickest textile time in history, Zhang Yufei‘s 2:03.86 set in Tokyo.

All-Time Performances, Women’s 200 Butterfly (LCM)

  1. Liu Zige (CHN), 2:01.81 – 2009 China National Games
  2. Jessicah Schipper (AUS), 2:03.41 – 2009 World Championships
  3. Zhang Yufei (CHN), 2:03.86 – 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games
  4. Regan Smith (USA), 2:03.87 – 2023 Sun Devil Open
  5. Liu Zige (CHN), 2:03.90 – 2009 World Championships

Smith also produced the 10th-fastest swim of all-time in the 100 back (57.83), a new personal best of 2:08.48 in the 200 IM, and a very solid 57.05 showing in the 100 fly at the in-season meet in Tempe.

Her swim in the 200 IM made her the fourth-fastest American ever (and 16th all-time), and her 100 back showing moved her into #1 in the world at the time, though she was overtaken by Australia’s Kaylee McKeown less than two weeks later.

Smith managed to carry the momentum she created early in the month through to the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, kicking off the competition by winning the first final on the schedule in the women’s 200 fly.

The 21-year-old became the first American pool swimmer to officially punch their ticket to the 2023 World Championships by winning the 200 fly in 2:05.79, and then had a jaw-dropping performance one night later in the 200 back.

Smith rocketed to a time of 2:03.80, smashing her U.S. Open Record of 2:04.76 set earlier this season while breaking the 2:04 barrier for the first time since 2019.

Smith had not gotten down into the 2:03s since she stunningly broke the world record and won gold at the 2019 World Championships in Gwangju, and had actually failed to make the U.S. team at either the Tokyo Olympics or 2022 World Championships in the 200 back.

She erased all doubt of her ability to perform under pressure in the event in Indianapolis, winning by nearly two seconds in what was the fifth-fastest swim ever.

All-Time Performances, Women’s 200 Backstroke (LCM)

  1. Kaylee McKeown (AUS), 2:03.14 – 2023 Sydney Open
  2. Regan Smith (USA), 2:03.35 – 2019 World Championships
  3. Regan Smith (USA), 2:03.69 – 2019 World Championships
  4. Kaylee McKeown (AUS), 2:03.70 – 2023 Australian World Championship Trials
  5. Regan Smith (USA), 2:03.80 – 2023 U.S. National Championships

On Day 3 of Nationals, Smith put up the seventh-fastest swim in history (tied) in the 50 back, placing a narrow second to Katharine Berkoff (27.13) in 27.14, with both just shy of Berkoff’s American Record of 27.12 set last year.

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Nick the biased Aussie
7 months ago

Makes sense that this is US only swimmers

Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
8 months ago
Anything but 50 BR
8 months ago

The second list of times is 200 BK, not 200 FL

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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