| Saturday, July 28, 2018
IRVINE, Calif. – Sixteen-year-old Regan Smith set a World Junior record this morning in the prelims of the women’s 100m backstroke, turning in a time of 59.09.
Here’s a look at other storylines to follow heading into tonight’s finals:
Women’s 400m Freestyle
Very few surprises in this morning’s prelims. As expected, Katie Ledecky is the top seed by a healthy margin, turning in a time of 4:02.69. Ledecky is the reigning world and Olympic champion in this event, holds the world record at 3:56.46, and has won four national titles in the 400 – in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017. She also holds the top 10 performances of all time in this event. Ledecky won both the 800 free and 200 free earlier this week. If she wins the 400 free tonight, that gives her 16 career national titles, tying her for seventh all-time among women with Natalie Coughlin.
The second seed went to Leah Smith in 4:05.14. Smith won silver in this event behind Ledecky at last year’s Phillips 66 National Championships and FINA World Championships. She was also won bronze in the 400 at the 2016 Games in Rio.
Men’s 400m Free
U.S. National Team member Zane Grothe, the defending national champion in the 400 free, is the top seed heading into tonight’s finals in 4:48.30. Grothe finished seventh in this event at last year’s FINA World Championships and has been tearing it up in the last year, setting American record in the 500-yard and 1650y free at the Speedo Winter Championships last December.
Women’s 100m Breaststroke
Five Olympians – Molly Hannis, Micah Sumrall, Lilly King, Katie Meili and Breeja Larsen – headline the finals of the women’s 100m breaststroke. The biggest name among them would have to be Lilly King, who is the reigning Olympic and world champion in this event, and also the world record holder. King qualified third in 1:06.98.
Hannis is the top seed in 1:05.78. She and King went 1-2 in the 50m breast on Friday night. Sumrall is also having a great meet, winning the 200m breast on Thursday.
Men’s 100m Breaststroke
The final of the men’s 100m breast is another loaded field, which includes seven U.S. National Team members, three of whom -- Cody Miller, Kevin Cordes and Josh Prenot – are Olympians. Andrew Wilson leads the pack going into finals in 59.48, followed by Michael Andrew and Nic Fink. Prenot and Wilson went 1-2 on Thursday in the men’s 200m breast. Andrew and Devon Nowicki, who qualified fifth in today’s race, went 1-2 in the 50m breast on Friday.
Women’s 100m Backstroke
On Thursday, Olympian Kathleen Baker and U.S. National Teamer Regan Smith tied for first in the women’s 200m backstroke. They’re back in the pool going head-to-head tonight, with Smith qualifying first in 50.09 and Baker qualifying third in 59.27. Smith’s time this morning was a World Junior Record. She also set the World Junior Record in the 200m back on Thursday. Olympian Olivia Smoliga will also be in the mix, as will U.S. National Team member Ali DeLoof, who finished second to Smoliga last night in the women’s 50m back.
Men’s 100m Backstroke
Last year’s top two finishers at Nationals in the 100m backstroke – Matt Grevers and Ryan Murphy – qualified 1-2 for tonight’s finals in 53.30 and 53.63, respectively. Murphy is the 2016 Olympic champion in this event and the world record-holder. Grevers is the 2012 Olympic champion. At the 2017 FINA World Championships, Grevers won silver in the 100m back, while Murphy took bronze.