Katie Ledecky Unfurls Another Swift Performance At U.S. Open; Regan Smith Shines in 100 Backstroke

Jul 27, 2021; Tokyo, Japan; Katie Ledecky (USA) after the women's 200m freestyle heats during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Summer Games at Tokyo Aquatics Centre. Mandatory Credit: Rob Schumacher-USA TODAY Sports

Katie Ledecky Unfurls Another Swift Performance At U.S. Open, This Time in 200 Freestyle

The Katie Ledecky post-Tokyo tour has been nothing short of stellar over the past few days, with her latest effort arriving in the 200-meter freestyle. Racing at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, Ledecky delivered a meet-record time of 1:55.47, good for victory over Erin Gemmell, a National Junior Team standout who was the runnerup in 1:58.61.

A 10-time Olympic medalist, Ledecky is racing in her first competition since the Tokyo Games wrapped up in early August, and since she changed training locales from Stanford University to Anthony Nesty’s training group in Gainesville. The move across the country also coincided with Ledecky accepting a role as a volunteer coach at the University of Florida.

With her win in the 200 freestyle, Ledecky complemented earlier U.S. Open triumphs in the 400 freestyle and 800 freestyle, both of which also came in meet-record times. In the shorter distance, Ledecky surged to the front of the field on the opening lap, splitting 27.32 for the first 50 meters. The three-time Olympian touched at the midway mark in 56.32, more than a second clear of Gemmell, and was 1:25.67 through 150 meters, where her edge was more than two seconds over Gemmell, a University of Texas recruit.

Ledecky produced another superb Olympics in Tokyo, where she won the 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle events, and earned a silver medal in the 400 freestyle and as a member of the American 800 freestyle relay. Following those exploits, she took a break before resuming her training, with Nesty guiding her career. Clearly, Ledecky’s new athlete-coach relationship is clicking, with the future Hall of Famer posting times at the U.S. Open that are close to what she managed at the Tokyo Games.

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Ledecky’s Olympic teammate, Regan Smith, picked up a dominant win in the 100 backstroke. The Olympic bronze medalist in the event, Smith clocked 58.69 to best the field by more than three seconds. Smith was the top seed after prelims in the 100 backstroke and 100 butterfly but opted to scratch the fly and focus on the backstroke for the evening session. The decision proved effective as Smith’s 58-mid performance showed.

Smith is in her freshman year at Stanford and figures to have the Cardinal in contention for an NCAA title. In addition to medaling in the 100 backstroke at the Tokyo Games, Smith was the silver medalist in the 200 butterfly at the Olympics. Her versatility should provide Stanford coach Greg Meehan with flexibility when deciding his NCAA lineup.

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The closing power of Bobby Finke was once again on display as the two-time Olympic champion ran down an opponent over the last 50 meters. This time, however, Finke displayed his come-from-behind skill in the 400 individual medley, which he won in 4:17.39. That mark was just quick enough for Finke to defeat Baylor Nelson, who was the runnerup in 4:17.61. Over the last lap, Finke was timed in 27.34, with Nelson covering the last 50 meters in 28.74. At the Olympic Games, en route to titles in the 800 freestyle and 1500 freestyle, Finke twice ran down the opposition on the last lap to claim gold.

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In the women’s 400 individual medley, Leah Smith made it a sweep of the medley events when she prevailed in 4:38.89, comfortably ahead of the 4:43.57 of Julia Podkoscielny (4:43.57). Like Ledecky, Smith has shifted her training base, with the Team USA veteran now putting in work at the University of Texas. Smith led wire to wire after opening her race with a 1:02.77 butterfly split.

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Trey Freeman, a teammate of Finke’s at the University of Florida, enjoyed a convincing triumph in the men’s 200 freestyle. Freeman asserted himself from the start and touched the wall in 1:47.90, with second place going to Hoe Yean Khiew in 1:49.00. As for the men’s 100 butterfly, Eric Friese was quickest, going 52.56. He finished ahead of 14-year-old Thomas Heilman, who set another National Age Group (NAG) record in the 13-14 classification with a swim of 53.27.

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In other action, Mabel Zavaros was the winner of the 100 butterfly in 1:00.05 while Hannah Bach went 1:09.01 to win the 100 breaststroke. Reid Mikuta (1:01.35) was the men’s winner of the 100 breaststroke while a 100 backstroke victory was secured by Vaggelis Makrygiannis (54.06).

Women’s 100 Butterfly

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Women’s 100 Breaststroke

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Men’s 100 Breaststroke

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Men’s 100 Backstroke

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