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Regan Smith breaks American record in 200m butterfly

Regan Smith

WESTMONT, ILLINOIS - APRIL 15: Regan Smith celebrates after winning the Women’s 200 Meter Backstroke Final and setting a US Open record on Day 4 of the TYR Pro Swim Series Westmont at FMC Natatorium on April 15, 2023 in Westmont, Illinois. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)

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Regan Smith broke one of the longest-standing American records in swimming, lowering the women’s 200m butterfly record that stood since 2009.

Smith, a former world record holder in the 100m and 200m backstrokes, clocked 2:03.87 in the 200m fly at a meet at her training base of Arizona State on Sunday, according to USA Swimming.

She took down the previous record of 2:04.14 set by Mary Mohler at the 2009 World Championships. Mohler’s was the third-oldest U.S. women’s swimming record in an individual Olympic event after the 200m individual medley (Ariana Kukors, also 2009) and 400m IM (Katie Hoff, 2008). Those are the lone women’s American records remaining from the super-suit era of 2007 through 2009.

Smith’s time is also the fourth-best in world history behind China’s Liu Zige‘s world record of 2:01.81 from 2009, Australian Jessicah Schipper‘s 2:03.41 from 2009 and China’s Zhang Yufei‘s 2:03.86 from the Tokyo Olympics.

Canadian 16-year-old Summer McIntosh won last year’s world title in a world junior record 2:05.20, then went 2:04.70 in March.

The U.S.’ longest gold-medal drought in any swimming event at the worlds is in the women’s 200m fly. None since Summer Sanders in 1991 (and none at the Olympics since Misty Hyman in 2000).

Smith, a three-time Tokyo Olympic medalist, is the fastest U.S. woman in 2023 in five events: the 100m and 200m back, 100m and 200m fly and 200m IM. The U.S. Championships are in three weeks in Indianapolis, where the top two in most individual events qualify for July’s world championships in Fukuoka, Japan.

Smith is excelling after turning professional following her freshman year of college, leaving Stanford to be coached by Bob Bowman at Arizona State last summer.

Smith, 21, won 200m fly silver and 100m back bronze at the Tokyo Olympics, plus silver on the women’s medley relay. Last June, she won the world title in the 100m back, three years after winning the 200m back world title. She was fourth in the 200m fly at 2022 Worlds.

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