Regan Smith sets 100m backstroke world record, qualifies for U.S. Olympic team

Regan Smith set a new world record in the women's 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials Tuesday in Indianapolis. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
Regan Smith set a new world record in the women's 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic trials Tuesday in Indianapolis. File Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI | License Photo

June 19 (UPI) -- Regan Smith reclaimed her world record in the women's 100-meter backstroke, out-pacing the field during the 57.13-second swim and qualifying for Paris 2024 at the U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis.

Smith was one of four swimmers to qualify for Team USA at the trials Tuesday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Katharine Berkoff, who finished second in the 100-meter backstroke with a time of 57.91, also qualified.


"That was a long-time coming and it took a lot of practicing, improving my confidence," Smith told reporters. "I knew that I had it in me, but for a long time I didn't."

"I'm really, really happy that I finally started to believe in myself."

Bobby Finke won the men's 800-meter backstroke with a time of 7:44.22 to start Tuesday's events, earning the first qualification of the night. Luke Whitlock (7:45.19) finished second to earn the second of four spots awarded.


Smith, 22, is set to compete in the Olympics for the second time. She won bronze in the 100-meter backstroke at Tokyo 2020. She also won silver medals in the 200-meter butterfly and 4x100-meter medley at those Summer Games, which were held in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Smith first broke the 100-meter backstroke world record at the 2019 World Championships, with a time of 57:57. That mark was twice broken by Australian Kaylee McKeown, who clocked a time of 57.45 in 2021 and 57.33 in 2023.

Berkoff, 23, qualified for the Olympics for the first time. Finke, 24, won gold in the 800-meter freestyle and 1,500-meter freestyle at Tokyo 2020. Whitlock, 18, is set to make his Olympic debut.

A total of 23 swimmers qualified for individual Olympic competitions with first- and second-place finishes through a dozen completed events so far at the trials, which started Saturday and will end Sunday.

Katie Ledecky, a 10-time Olympic medalist with seven golds, won her second event of the trials on Monday with a 1:55.22 in the women's 200-meter freestyle. Claire Weinstein finished second in that event to also qualify for the Summer Games.


Lilly King, Emma Weber, Ryan Murphy, Hunter Armstrong, Luke Hobson, Chris Guiliano, Katie Grimes, Emma Weyant, Nic Fink, Charlie Swanson, Gretchen Walsh, Torri Huske, Carson Foster, Chase Kalisz, Paige Madden, Aaron Shackell and Kieran Smith joined Ledecky among the other swimmers who finished first or second in respective events at the trials, punching their tickets to Paris.

The Top 6 finishers in the 100-meter and 200-meter freestyles can be picked for relay events.

Drew Kibler and Kieran Smith finished third and fourth, respectively, behind Hobson and Guiliano in the men's 200-meter freestyle, qualifying for the 4x200-meter relay team. Madden and Erin Gemmell finished behind Ledecky and Weinstein in the women's 200-meter freestyle, rounding out the other American 4x200-meter relay team.

Brooks Curry and Blake Pieroni finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the men's 200-meter freestyle. Anna Peplowski and Alex Shackell finished fifth and sixth in the women's 200-meter freestyle.

Ledecky also won the women's 400-meter freestyle, with Madden finishing second. The veteran Olympian said Tuesday that she would give up her 200-meter freestyle qualification spot if she performs well in her longer races. She is expected to compete in the respective 1,500-meter and 800-meter freestyle events Wednesday and Saturday in Indianapolis.


"I'm wanting to be really great in the 400, 800, mile and relay," Ledecky told reporters. "It was good here to swim all three rounds. If all goes well and I do drop it, it'll be easier in Paris. Hopefully, I'm setting myself up well for that."

"Nothing is formally decided until the end of the week because I've got do what I want to do in the 800 and the mile," Ledecky told reporters. "If all goes well, I will not be swimming [the 200] individually in Paris."

More individual and relay qualifying spots for Team USA will be decided Wednesday, with the women's 100-meter freestyle, men's 200-meter butterfly, women's 1,500-meter freestyle, men's 200-meter breaststroke and men's 100-meter freestyle events at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The trials can be watched daily, starting at 8 p.m. EDT on NBC. A maximum of 26 women and 26 men can be included on the Team USA roster for Paris 2024.

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