Phoebe Bacon reacts after competing in the women's 200-meter backstroke final at the Phillips 66 International Team Trials on April 27, 2022 in Greensboro, N.C.
GREEENSBORO, N.C. — Phoebe Bacon didn’t want to overthink the women’s 200-meter backstroke race like she has a tendency of doing.
The 19-year-old from Chevy Chase, Maryland, just wanted to enjoy herself on Wednesday night, even though she figured it would be a close race.
On the second day of the Phillips 66 International Team Trials inside the Greensboro Aquatic Center, Bacon held on down the stretch to win in a time of 2 minutes, 5.08 seconds. In doing so, Bacon broke Missy Franklin’s U.S. Open record time of 2:05.68, which the six-time Olympic medalist set in 2013. A U.S. Open record marks the fastest time recorded on U.S. soil.
“The plan going into it was to race, because sometimes I can get caught up in my own head and my own plan,” Bacon, a sophomore at Wisconsin, said. “But tonight talking with (coach Yuri Suguiyama) it was just go out there, have some fun, race the competitors and hope to have a good race.”
With the victory, Bacon secured her spot at this summer’s 2022 FINA World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. It will be her first trip to the world championships, coming one year after she finished fifth in the 200 backstroke at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020.
Bacon held a small lead over fellow Olympians Rhyan White and Regan Smith on the final lap Wednesday, and she had just enough over the final 15 meters to hold on for the win.
White finished second at 2:05.13, and Smith was right behind her in third at 2:05.65.
“No matter what, I know for us three it kind of comes down to that last 50 (meters) and whoever’s just going to get their hand on the wall,” Bacon said. “You guys saw how close it was, that last 15 meters into the wall.”
Bacon’s dramatic finish came on a day when seven-time Olympic gold medalist Caeleb Dressel broke the U.S. Open record in the men’s 50-meter butterfly and 10-time medalist Katie Ledecky cruised to another win.
Dressel got off to a fast start in the 50 fly and finished in 22.84 seconds, breaking the previous U.S. Open record of 22.91 set by Bryan Lundquist in 2009. He won by three-hundredths of a second over fellow Olympian medalist Michael Andrew, who took second at 22.87 seconds.
“I mean that’s kind of what all trials are to be honest, you’re here to get the job done,” Dressel said. “Times are for the most part irrelevant. I mean they’re just getting faster and faster, and so times are becoming irrelevant, but really just getting your hand on the wall first or second.
“So yeah, I’m happy with where we’re at.”