Regan Smith, 17, 'shocked' to shatter Missy Franklin's 200m backstroke world record

·4 min read
United States' Regan Smith reacts after her women's 200m backstroke semifinal at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, Friday, July 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
Regan Smith reacts after breaking Missy Franklin's world record in the 200m backstroke semifinal at the World Swimming Championships in Gwangju, South Korea. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)

It doesn’t seem that long ago Missy Franklin swam her way into American hearts during the 2012 London Olympics. But it was, and now another teenager, American Regan Smith, is lapping her way into the record books.

Smith shatters 200m backstroke record

Smith shattered the 200m backstroke at the 2019 FINA World Championships in Gwangju, South Korea, on Friday night. Her time of 2:03.35 in the semifinal was .71 seconds faster than Franklin’s time of 2:04.06 and she stayed under the world record pace at every 50m split except the second.

The 17-year-old Smith will have another chance at lowering the record during the finals. She also holds the world junior record in the event at 2:06.43 and shaved three seconds off her prelim time of 2:06.01 at the worlds.

She posted on Instagram after the semifinal:

I’m shocked and I don’t know what to say, but I do want to thank my friends who believed I could. One more for Team USA tomorrow!”

Smith, a native of Lakeville, Minnesota, committed to the Stanford swim team three weeks ago.

Franklin ‘honored’ to have Smith break record

Franklin was also 17 when she set the mark at the London Olympics. Her time beat Zimbabwe’s Kirsty Coventry’s time by .75 seconds. Coventry held the record for three years.

Franklin’s victory in 2012 was the first time an American won the 200m backstroke in 40 years. She noted the new record-holder in a series of tweets Friday morning.

Franklin is a five-time Olympic gold medalist, but no longer holds any world record marks. Her team 4x100 medley relay records on the short and long course were broken by American teams in 2015 and 2017.

Franklin, 24, won gold in the 100m backstroke, 200m backstroke, 4x200m free relay and 4x100m medley relay in London, adding a bronze in the 4x100 free relay. She added a gold as part of the 4x200m free relay team at the 2016 Rio Olympics and retired from the sport in December 2018.

Record-breaking 2019 world championships

World records fell throughout the week during the championships, including two previously held by Michael Phelps.

Hungarian 19-year-old Kristof Milak took out Phelps’ signature 200m butterfly record by .78 seconds. He set it in 2009 at the world championships.

American Caeleb Dressel set the 100m fly record earlier Friday in the semifinal, breaking Phelps’ 2009 mark by .32 seconds. Dressel also set an American record in his 100m freestyle victory.

And fellow American Simone Manuel, who spoke to Yahoo Sports about preparing for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, set an American record in the 100m freestyle. She defended her title with a time of 52.04 seconds out of Lane 1.

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