Lakeville’s Smith qualifies for world championships

15-year-old takes 2nd in 200 backstroke at nationals

Regan Smith of Lakeville qualified for the FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, later this month. She will compete in the 200-meter backstroke. Photo submitted

 

Lakeville’s Regan Smith continued on what appears to be a fast track toward the 2020 Olympics by finishing second in the women’s 200-meter backstroke at the USA Swimming National Championships last week in Indianapolis.

By finishing in the top two, Smith earned a spot on the U.S. team for the FINA World Championships later this month in Budapest, Hungary. It will be the first world championships appearance for Smith, who will be a sophomore at Lakeville North High School this fall. She is the first 15-year-old to make the U.S. team for the world meet since Katie Ledecky, who’s now at Stanford University and has qualified for worlds in six events.

Smith, who earlier this year held the fastest time in 2017 by a U.S. swimmer in the 200 backstroke, swam a personal-record 2 minutes, 8.55 seconds in the 200 backstroke finals at the national meet June 28. She was four hundredths of a second ahead of Asia Seidt for second place and a berth in the world championships. Kathleen Baker won the event in 2:06.38.

A member of Riptide Swimming in Apple Valley, Smith was the youngest swimmer in the “A” final in the 200 backstroke and one of only two younger than 19. Many of the swimmers in the national meet are currently competing for college programs.

Women’s 200 backstroke preliminaries and semifinals at the world championships will be July 28, with the finals July 29.

One year ago, Smith swam in the U.S. Olympic Trials, finishing 13th in the 100 backstroke and 33rd in the 200 backstroke. In December she set two national records for the 13-14 age group at the USA Winter Junior Championships. She also set nine Minnesota records for that age group at the junior nationals. She was named swimmer of the year in the 13-14 age group by swimswam.com, an online swimming news site.