The Tokyo Olympics may be a year away, but 17-year-old Regan Smith is already making the case that she can compete with the world's most elite athletes. Regan — who's currently the youngest member of the USA Swimming team — made history during the semifinals of the 200-meter backstroke at the 2019 World Championships, when she not only qualified for the finals, but also shattered a world record along the way. Her time of 2:03.35 in the semifinal was .71 seconds faster than the previous record, set by Missy Franklin at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Regan is the same age now that Missy was in 2012. It's a bittersweet moment for the former Olympian, as this was her last-standing world record, but she graciously cheered on Regan and congratulated her in a series of tweets as well. "Well dear friend, we had a great run. Seven years and I couldn't be more honored to have my 200 back World Record broken by @reganesmith4, one of the sweetest and hardest working athletes I've ever known," Missy wrote. "Keeping this World Record with an American flag by it means everything. I was truly blown away watching Regan swim a 2:03.3 (Yes, I typed that right) and absolutely smash it."
Regan is one of Team USA's fastest-rising stars and an Olympic hopeful. For now, though, she's basking in her new record. "I'm in shock. I really don't believe it. I didn't think I'd ever do that. It's crazy," she told reporters after her record-breaking swim. "I'm really happy, very happy with what I was able to do. I was hoping to slip under 2:06. [The swim] greatly exceeded my expectations." Watch her record-breaking swim above.