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Paris Olympics: Regan Smith books berth with 100m backstroke world record

Regan Smith set a new world record of 57.13 seconds in the 100m backstroke at the US Olympic swimming trials on Tuesday, issuing a challenge to Australian rival Kaylee McKeown ahead of the Paris Games.

Smith surpassed McKeown’s previous world record of 57.33 set in Budapest in October 2023.

“It was part of my plan,” Smith commented on reclaiming the record she held back in 2019.

She had indicated her intentions by lowering her American record to 57.47 in the semi-finals. In a tight race with Katharine Berkoff, Smith made a late surge to shave two-tenths of a second off McKeown’s mark.

“I’m incredibly proud of myself,” said Smith, who won two silvers and a bronze at the Tokyo Olympics. “Backstroke can be challenging for me at times, but coming back like this to regain the record means a lot.”

Berkoff finished second with a time of 57.91, setting up a strong one-two finish for the US in the event at Paris, where McKeown remains a formidable opponent following her 57.41 at the Australian trials last week.

Smith narrowly missed securing a spot in Paris for the 100m butterfly, where she placed behind world record holder Gretchen Walsh and Torri Huske. She still has two events remaining this week at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, hosting the trials for the first time.

“I’ll take a moment to be proud of what I’ve achieved, and then it’s back to work,” Smith said. “There are more goals I want to accomplish this week.”

Elsewhere in the trials, Bobby Finke, who won double distance freestyle gold in Tokyo, secured his 800m title defense with a time of 7:44.22, while Caeleb Dressel, a five-time gold medalist in Tokyo, advanced to the men’s 100m freestyle final with the third-fastest time in the semifinals.

Simone Manuel, aiming for redemption after missing out on Tokyo, won her semifinal in the women’s 100m freestyle with a time of 53.16 seconds, setting up a showdown with Torri Huske in the final.

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