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Missoula native Katharine Berkoff advances to final at U.S. Swim Trials

Katharine Berkoff
Posted at 12:21 PM, Jun 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-14 21:53:43-04

OMAHA, Neb. -- Missoula native Katharine Berkoff will swim in the final of the women's 100-meter backstroke at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Tuesday.

Berkoff, a Missoula Hellgate graduate now swimming collegiately at North Carolina State, tied for the second-fastest time in the preliminary heats of the 100-meter backstroke early Monday and then had the third-fastest time in the semifinal late Monday. She finished her prelim in 58.88 seconds and her semifinal in 58.62 seconds.

Sixteen swimmers advanced from the early preliminary heats to Monday's late semifinal, which was separated into two heats of eight swimmers each. Berkoff competed in the first semifinal, placing second in her race just behind Olivia Smoliga, who touched the wall in 58.50 seconds.

Regan Smith won the second heat with a record-setting time of 57.92 seconds. Smith will be the No. 1 seed for the 100 backstroke final on Tuesday. The top two swimmers in the event will represent the United States at this year's Summer Olympics in Tokyo later this summer.

Berkoff, who will also swim in the 200 backstroke on Friday, and Billings natives Ethan Harder and Peter Thompson are competing in Wave II of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Wave II started on Sunday and runs through June 20. Butte native Catherine Russo competed in Wave I, which took place earlier this month.

Harder competed in the men's 100-meter backstroke on Monday, placing 51st with a time of 56.22 seconds. Harder, who swims collegiately at the University of Texas, is also scheduled to compete in the men's 200 butterfly on Tuesday and the men's 200 backstroke on Thursday.

Berkoff has already had a decorated swimming career, and is the World University Games and Junior Pan Pacific Championships record holder in the 100-meter backstroke, according to her NC State bio.

As a freshman during the coronavirus-shortened season in 2019-20, Berkoff earned All-American status in five events. She added seven All-American accolades in 2021, winning NCAA championships in the 100 backstroke, 400 medley relay and 200 medley relay with the Wolfpack. Berkoff is a two-time ACC champion in the 100 backstroke.