Young swimmers continued to make a splash on the third and final day of the U.S. Open Championships, held at nine different sites due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Phoebe Bacon (pictured above), 18 years old and already a national champion in the 100m backstroke, continued her quick rise up the ranks, beating world record holder Regan Smith in the 200m backstroke.
Bacon clocked a 2:09.16 to finish in first, ahead of Smith’s 2:11.74, which put her in fourth. Smith, the reigning world champ in the race, swam her world record 2:03.35 in the semi-finals at worlds in 2019.
Katharine Berkoff (2:10.12) and Kathleen Baker (2:11.38) were second and third, respectively.
Seventeen-year-old Victoria Huske was also victorious on Saturday, swimming a 54.04 in the 100m freestyle. Gretchen Walsh, also 17, and 16-year-old Claire Curzan were second and third with times of 54.37 and 54.93, respectively.
Smith, herself only 18, claimed victory in the 200m butterfly with a 2:08.61, some two seconds ahead of Olivia Carter in second.
Bacon spent at least part of the year training in a family friend's pool, just 15m long, as public and training pools shut due to pandemic restrictions.
The U.S. Open Championships were initially scheduled to be held in December in Atlanta, but pandemic safety measures put in place by officials had them split the competition, the biggest in the U.S. in eight months, into nine different sites.
Officials compiled times at separate pools to declare the final standings.
Olympic champions including Ryan Lochte, Ryan Held, Cody Miller, Joseph Schooling, Baker and more were in action in the three-day event, while many top U.S. swimmers sat it out, including Nathan Adrian and Katie Ledecky.
The event was open to international swimmers, as well, with Egypt’s Youssef Ramadan, 18, setting a new Egyptian record in the 100m butterfly, held Friday night. His 52.99 broke a four-year-old record, according to SwimSwam.
Other Saturday finals included 20-year-old Erica Sullivan winning the 1500m free with a 16:04.37. Ashley Twichell, who has already qualified for Tokyo 2020 in the 10km open water swimming event, was second with a 16:18.11.
Madisyn Cox won the 200m breaststroke with a 2:27.55.
Men: Wilson beats Miller in 200m breaststroke
In the men’s 100m free, Serbia’s Andrej Barna held off the American Held, clocking in at 48.75 to Held’s 49.00, which was the top U.S. time this season.
Schooling, the Rio 2016 champion in the 100m fly placed 28th in the free, touching the wall at 50.65.
Andrew Wilson, who barely missed making the 2016 U.S. Olympic team in both the 100m and 200m breast was victorious in the latter event on Saturday, beating Olympian Miller, 2:09.83 to Miller’s 2:10.22.
Zach Harting made good on his quick turnaround from competing in Hungary to swimming in the U.S. Open: He won the 200m fly with a 1:57.82. Harting was sixth in the same event at 2019 worlds, when he swam a 1:56.42.
Nineteen-year-old William Grant won the 200m backstroke, swimming a 1:59.52. Meanwhile, Lochte, the 12-time Olympic medallist, was 24th in that event, finishing in 2:03.83. Robert Finke won the 1,500m free, registering a 15:09.24.