2020 Olympian and World Champion swimmer Regan Smith is loving the pro life. At the Pro Swim Series Westmont Regan swam and won:
- 100 fly- 56.92
- 200 fly – 2:07.92
- 100 back – 57.90
- 200 back – 2:04.76
Regan’s 2:04.76 200 back was the race of swim meet, making history, setting a new U.S. Open Record. She launched that swim under world record pace, out in a 100m split of 1:00.38, which was .35 of a second under the world record pace set by Australian Kaylee McKeown back in March when she ripped a 2:03.14. Also of note, Regan’s 2:04.76 would’ve won 200m backstroke at World Championships last year — where McKeown was a 2:05.08 for the gold. (Later that summer at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, McKeown won 200 back in 2:05.60.)
In this interview Regan’s plain-spoken about why the pro swimming lifestyle suits her better than competing in college. Regan clearly has meters goals she intends to meet. She also explains how she muscled through a bout of covid while she was at altitude training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
I thought Regan’s 2019 World Championships gold and world record, the 2:03.35, would last for years. I was blown away by that performance. The covid shutdown, the delayed Olympics and transitioning to college clearly took a toll on Regan. However, the move to train with Bob Bowman was bold, and it signaled she intends to be tough at World Champs this summer and the Olympic Games next year. I’m guessing many swim fans thought McKeown was a lock for backstroke gold. Maybe you still do after her 2:03.14 back in March. I don’t. I think Regan’s hungry to win. For this summer, I would just like to see Regan perform in the 200 back 2:03 range -2:03 anything. I think another year with Bowman will put her in the hunt to win in Paris. But who cares what I think? It’s all about what you think. Drop your comments below.
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This is a Gold Medal Media production presented by SwimOutlet.com. Host Gold Medal Mel Stewart is a 3-time Olympic medalist and the co-founder of SwimSwam.com, a Swimming News website.
2:02 is coming
I feel like there is a subtle feeling of disdain for her here by commenters. Is there something I missed? She seems like a nice girl.
She has a bit of a reputation of being self absorbed
When Regan was in high school in Lakeville, she did not want to be a high school swimmer (she only did school swimming for one year, in 7th grade.) When Regan was in college, she did not want to be a college swimmer (bailed after a year, taking with her a school and teammates’ chances at a National title). It could just be a “grass is always greener on the other side” thing, or that Regan does not like to mix education and swimming, or that Regan did not like the structure or demands of college where she was not always going to be the undivided center of attention.
She’s clearly an independent thinker that makes her own decisions as opposed to blindly following the beaten track
In the comment section here at SS, it seems that Regan has a reputation as an athlete who lacks the confidence to perform well in high pressure situations, but the Regan I saw in that interview sure sounds like she is building confidence!
She is becoming her personal best, and it’s NOT easy to repeat as World/Olympic Champ, so if Regan is in better than her former WR shape, and she”s next to Kaylee in the big race…at least she’s got a shot. I mean, that’s why we swim the race instead of just handing the gold medal to the WR holder, right?
This has to be the most pessimistic prediction I’ve ever seen Mel make. People forget how effortless that 2:03.3 semifinal swim was, and how she came back in finals and went out in 59-low and still went 2:03-mid.
After that year, she obviously had some mental struggles, was kind of between two coaches and not committing to either of them, and adjusting to college at Stanford, and those things led to some inconsistency. But probably after Worlds, and definitely after 2024, we will all be in agreement that she is the best backstroker in the world.
I say 2:03.1 and 57.2 at Worlds, and I’m being conservative for the 200.
I world love to see a 57.2 / 2:03.1 at WCs. But I am looking at this as a process to Paris. Getting back into the 2:03s isn’t nothing. It’s tough. Regan’s got easy speed, and with Bowman training, she’ll deliver a solid second 100.
I’m looking at it as a process to Paris as well. Those Worlds times I predicted are just a stepping stone.
disagree. She is in the zone RIGHT NOW. 2024 is another year away. A lot can change in a year and these athletes are focused at the (very important and prestigious) task at hand which is Worlds.
Don’t always agree with Mel but am happy to do so here. People speak of these marks as if they will just naturally occur as a matter of course and as part of a prescribed linear progression.
The reality is that these ARE exceptional times. Only 3 swimmers have ever broken 58sec and 2 below 2.04 (and less than a handful below 2.05).
I’d like to think that most SSers DO acknowledge and respect quality performers, regardless of their nationality, and Smith’s CV clearly puts her in that category. Therefore it is heartening to see her back in ‘a good place’ mentally and approaching her best times in many of her events.
Can she hit the times touted,… Read more »
because she gets paid????
You can get paid in college now, and I’m not sure she was any less marketable at Stanford than as a pro.
Exactly!! She could have come out of Stanford with a degree and she would have probably made more money staying in school with NIL and then she could have gone pro. But if academics are very hard for you and then throw swimming in the mix one of them is going suffer. Maybe both. Dropping out of college made the most sense I am sure. But what are you going to do after swim without a degree.
She didn’t swim well enough by her standards, and a coaching change was needed. She made the right decision by leaving Stanford and turning pro as can be seen by the happiness exuded in her interviews and the times she is swimming.
I am sure she will get a degree somehow like Phelps did
she’ll get a degree. She has plenty of time.
right now sure, we’ll see in a year or so after the Olympics though whether it will have paid off
My point is that the move wasn’t about money.
We get the connection of the website to NCAA swimming, but its time for money, contracts and getting paid, to stop being a taboo issue on this website.
Like basketball, there will be both college swimming and pro swimming.
Its more than OK for swimmers to enjoy getting paid for being some of the best in he world at what they do, and for their very hard work.
I never got paid to swim, but am very happy to see top swimmers earning a good living.
Happy to see MP set financially for life.
Happy to see other pros making a living.
Neither Regan Smith nor Swimswam need to be coy about getting paid for doing… Read more »
When has money, getting paid, and contracts ever been a taboo topic on this site?
I get yelled at all the time for talking about money on this site lol.
We report partnerships and coach salaries and NBG leadership salaries. Coy? Come on? I wasn’t thinking a/money regarding Regan at all – certainly with NIL as an option. Being Pro now is really about focusing efforts on meters training and performance at big stage events like WC and the OGs.
She has an important 15-16 months ahead of her.
If Pro means professional, that means she gets compensated financially.
Not just by being exempt from swimming short course.
I wonder what her compensation is.
I wonder if the top women get paid like the top men.
All interesting stuff.
All subjects that are rather hushed in the swimming community.
Wilt famously demanded 100,001 $ to Russel’s 100,000.
What are Popovic’s and Dressel’s numbers 60 years later?
Oh… and remember the Allyson Felix – Nike pregnancy story?
Well said. I’d like to add at that I think medalists need to be better compensated for these achievements but we all know that swimming will never be a lucrative sport, at least not in the USA.
She signed her contract with Speedo before going pro. We haven’t received any information that they renegotiated her contract after turning pro.
The USOPC/USA Swimming came up with a lot of loopholes to let swimmers accept prize money. So it’s possible that she’s making more prize money than before? But the delta is probably not more than the value of her scholarship at Stanford.
You are incorrect about the “delta.” Perhaps you are not familiar with the system by which Speedo incentivizes (pays medal bonuses to) its athletes and determines their “base salary” per contract year,
Now there’s an interesting subject.
Are there agents?
Who negotiates for the swimmers?
How do things work in Europe? Australia?
What is the institutional/governmental support for swimmers in Europe, versus Australia/US?
Do European top swimmers that get governmental support, need to forfeit that support if they swim NCAA?
What bonuses do the sponsors pay for WC, OG medals, WRs, by the top swimmers?
This could answer many questions and shed real light on occurances in our sport.
I think these things warrant investigation.
BTW – Did ANYONE actually get paid ANY prize money for the last ISL season? Swimmers? Coaches? Managers?
There are lots of relevant questions i’d love to see being answered.
I’m certainly not taking anything for granted at this point. No one is guaranteed a win in Paris.
If I had to bet now, I would say it’s like that either McKeown or Smith win the 100/200 back in Paris but there’s still time for a challenger to emerge in either event as well.
Yeah I‘ve pretty much ruled out Masse by now
Masse showed up when it mattered in Tokyo. I’m not sure about her endurance in the 200 anymore, but her 50 speed is no joke. She’ll be a contender in the 100 just like she has been for her entire international career.
Not ruling Masse out yet; at least not in the 100. She’s the only other sub 58 performer and she does bring her A game to the big meets. Maybe her sub 58 days have passed but as yet, that has not been proven conclusively.
As for how the 2 Olympic backstroke races may “fall” in Fukuoka; a Smith sweep is certainly a viable bet however; a McKeown sweep is equally as probable. A split between them may be even more so. Unless Fukuoka proves unusually slow; which looks less likely given both Smith and McKeown are flying this year; an intruder spoiling the party (whilst plausibe) is looking less likely unless one/both are sick.
NOT going to make longer… Read more »
“No one is guaranteed a win in Paris.“ Ledecky in the 800/1500FR?
Ledecky was guaranteed to win 200/400/800/1500 in 2019 world championships
Yeah I mean, I think saying “nobody is ever guaranteed a win” is kind of a trite thing to say, but Ledecky in those events is as close to a guaranteed win as has ever existed in the sport.
I think we’ll be able to be more sure half a year to a year out, but remember that Jacoby was just 1:08.1 at this time of the year in 2020. Jacoby’s drop from that to 1:04.95 is the same proportionately as 8:33 to 8:10 in the 800 free or 16:20 to 15:35 in the 1500, so any teen around those times who shows some sharp improvement this summer (like maybe Grimes or Weinstein) very well might be able to challenge next summer
Summer McIntosh is a guaranteed win in the 4 IM.
The real key for her will be the second year under Bowman. Leon really blasted off this year and I’m looking at Reagan doing the same next year
…I was thinking about Leon. And it does take a year to get your training legs under you with a new coach.