INDIANAPOLIS — Before the Olympic Games Rio 2016, Kathleen Baker had never gone under 59 seconds in the 100-meter backstroke.
Then in Rio, the California Bear swam 58.75 in the 100 back final and won the silver medal.
At the 2017 Phillips 66 National Championships, 20-year-old Baker added to her awards collection. She won her second national title in the 100 backstroke Friday night (she won the 200 back earlier in the week). And her time of 58.57 broke the U.S. Open and long-course national record set by Missy Franklin in 2013.
The national swimming championships are part of the Team USA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.
Baker will compete in three individual events at the 2017 FINA World Championships in Budapest next month — the 50, 100 and 200-meter backstrokes (she finished second in the 50 back on Thursday). She will also vie for a medal in the women’s 4x100 medley.
Behind Baker, 2016 Olympian Olivia Smoliga finished second in 59.17, the fifth-fastest time in the world this year.
A freelance writer based in Vermont, Peggy Shinn has covered four Olympic Games. She has contributed to TeamUSA.org since its inception in 2008.