Women’s 100 Backstroke World Record On Notice (Day 4 U.S. Trials Finals Preview)

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

There’s just two finals tonight but don’t let that deter you from tuning in (or turning up!) to the fourth night of finals at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials. After Regan Smith broke her own American record in the semifinals of the women’s 100 backstroke (57.47) she’s got a chance to break Kaylee McKeown‘s world standard tonight.

Order of Events

  • Men’s 100 freestyle — semifinals
  • Men’s 200 butterfly — semifinals
  • Women’s backstroke — final
  • Men’s 800 freestyle — final
  • Women’s 100 freestyle — semifinals
  • Men’s 200 breaststroke — semifinals

Women’s 100 Backstroke

Will we see another world record go down at these Trials?

Katharine Berkoff courtesy: Fabio Cetti

Regan Smith broke her own American record in semifinals, blazing a 57.47 and missing Kaylee McKeown‘s world record by just .14 seconds. Smith has looked calm and collected through the rounds of the women’s 100 backstroke–more impressive given that she’s been sub-58 seconds each swim. After an impressive 100 butterfly to open the meet, Smith has shown no signs of slowing down. And now, she’s knocking on the door of reclaiming the 100 backstroke world record.

It’s been a battle to make it into the final of this event–Phoebe Bacon earned lane 8 with a 59.33–but Katharine Berkoff has joined Smith in distancing herself from the pack. Berkoff blasted a 57.83 in the first semifinal, breaking the 58 second barrier for the first time in her career. She’s now the 4th fastest performer in history and has a .96 second lead over Josephine Fuller and Kennedy Noble who are tied for 3rd (58.79).

Men’s 800 Freestyle

For the second time this meet, Luke Whitlock earned lane 4 for the final. Two days removed from finishing 5th in the 400 freestyle, the 18 year old logged the a 7:51.22 in the 800 freestyle prelims, which held up to qualify him in first for the final.

Don’t expect Bobby Finke, the reigning Olympic champion and 7th fastest all time, to play games here as he looks qualify for his second Olympics. Finke is the clear favorite and he’ll likely flex that by a wide margin in the final, even if he doesn’t approach his 7:38.67 American record.

The race for second is on though, and though this isn’t his last event, this seems like Whitlock’s best chance at staging an upset and making the team ahead of some of the other more experienced swimmers in the field. But swimmers like 2024 Worlds swimmer David Johnston, 2023 Worlds qualifier Ross Dant, and dark horse Daniel Matheson won’t gift second place to Whitlock either.

And, after Luke Ellis scratched, 2022 Worlds qualifier Charlie Clark was given a lifeline after originally finishing 9th. He’ll want to make the most of that swim and earn an Olympic berth ahead of the 1500 freestyle later in the meet.

Semifinals

Men’s 100 Free

Jack Alexy is here, everybody. He asserted control over the men’s 100 freestyle prelims with a U.S. Open record of 47.08, breaking the mark that Caeleb Dressel and Ryan Held shared. The time moves him into a tie for 8th all-time with Kyle Chalmers, and makes him an even bigger threat for a medal in Paris — if he makes it through the rounds in Indy.

Both Dressel and Held are in tonight’s field; Dressel joined Alexy sub-48 seconds with a 47.65, his fastest swim in two years. Chris Guiliano, fresh off Olympic qualification in the 200 free, and Hunter Armstrong, also broke 48 seconds, swimming 47.65 and 47.93 respectively.

With Destin Lasco, Ryan Heldand Patrick Sammon all separated by less than a four-hundredths in fifth through seventh, the stage is set for a heavyweight battle for the final.

Women’s 100 Free

It felt like 2016 for a moment at the end of the women’s 100 freestyle as it was a resurgent Simone Manuel and Abbey Weitzeil taking up the top two slots. Manuel charged in the closing meters of her race–splitting a field-best of 27.33–to get her hand on the wall in a season-best 53.09. That held up through the last heats of the event, putting Manuel in the driver’s seat tonight. Weitzeil cracked 53.56 for 2nd.

Manuel’s in charge now, but she’s going to have to fend off an outstanding Virginia duo in Gretchen Walsh and Kate Douglass. Walsh, the newest world record holder, out-touched Douglass in the final heat, 53.60 to 53.66, but both are sure to be faster tonight. Torri Huske is also looking dangerous, slotting in between Walsh and Douglass with a 53.62.

Men’s 200 Fly

Florida’s Mason Laur leads the way here after a massive personal best 1:55.09 this morning. He can’t get too comfortable though; 2022 Worlds qualifier Luca Urlando looked strong–he won his heat and qualified second overall in 1:55.52.

The Cal men have been having a strong meet and they put two men into the semifinal, with Dare Rose–who is more known for his sprint butterfly–and Colby Mefford moving through in 3rd (1:55.94) and 4th (1;56.36), respectively.

Keep an on Louisville’s Tommy Bried here. Bried had a massive swim out of heat 1, dropping two seconds and qualifying 12th in 1:57.60. He pulled the 200 fly/200 breast double this morning and swam so well that he’s won the prize of doing it again tonight. The 200 fly is his first event, then he’ll feature at the end of the session in the 200 breast.

Men’s 200 Breast

The final event of the night is the men’s 200 breaststroke semis. AJ Pouch ran away with it in prelims, making a statement with a 2:08.25 personal best time.

Matt Fallon got to work in the final heat. He utilized his usual back-half strategy, moving from 5th to 1st on the third 50 of his swim. He touched in 2:09.81, qualifying third behind Pouch and Josh Matheny (2:09.59). Fallon should be quicker tonight as he looks to take control of this race, as should Nic Fink, who’s lurking in 8th place (2:11.21). Meanwhile, Jake Foster and Will Licon–both looking for their first Olympic bids–qualified easily for the semifinals and aim to keep their Olympic dreams alive by booking a spot for the final.

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Swimdad
23 days ago

Dressel looks really good.

Swimdad
23 days ago

I wish people will stop putting unnecessary pressure on Regan Smith. She does not need to break the world record tonight. Just make the team. She may need to break the record in Paris in order to beat the Australian backstroker but not tonight.

HeGetsItDoneAgain
Reply to  Swimdad
23 days ago

She says herself she wants to break it, it’s and admirable goal and we can have predicting it. It’s not harming anyone.

HeGetsItDoneAgain
23 days ago

June 18th 1994 – the last day an American man held the 100 free WR (48.42 by legendary Matt Biondi). I wasn’t even alive at that time. Plant your flag Alexy.

Last edited 23 days ago by HeGetsItDoneAgain
saltie
Reply to  HeGetsItDoneAgain
23 days ago

exactly 30 years ago… that would be crazy if he did it today

saltie
23 days ago

call me crazy but I think Pan Zhanle better enjoy his record now….it’s not surviving the next 30 hours.

Jersey Boy and Daddy D are coming for you, cheater.

Swimdad
Reply to  saltie
23 days ago

You’re not crazy

Derp
Reply to  saltie
23 days ago

That record will hold up to the finals in Paris . Pam ain’t a cheater either . I not crazy though but you are a bozo

HeGetsItDoneAgain
23 days ago

This is a delicious lineup of events

HeGetsItDoneAgain
23 days ago

I really wish Alexy would’ve given it a go in the 200. He threw down a nasty 1:29 with the worst start/undies of the field in ncaas and has the easiest speed I’ve maybe ever seen in a freestyler. Hes got a stroke and cadence that is earily similar to MP when it comes to freestyler. He pulls water like few I’ve ever seen People should check out that video Brett hawke posted of him earlier today going 47.8 in January in the thick of altitude training with a full beard. Dude looks like he was built in a lab to swim the 100 free.

RealCrocker5040
23 days ago

JACK Alexy and Regan Smith on WR Watch

About Sophie Kaufman

Sophie Kaufman

Sophie grew up in Boston, Massachusetts, which means yes, she does root for the Bruins, but try not to hold that against her. At 9, she joined her local club team because her best friend convinced her it would be fun. Shoulder surgery ended her competitive swimming days long ago, …

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