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Missoula native Katharine Berkoff places 4th in 100-meter backstroke at U.S. Olympic Swim Trials

Katharine Berkoff, Regan Smith and Olivia Smoliga
Posted at 6:48 PM, Jun 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-17 13:21:51-04

OMAHA, Neb. -- Missoula native Katharine Berkoff placed fourth 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, took the third-fastest qualifying time into the final after touching the wall in 58.62 seconds in Monday night's semifinal race. On Tuesday, Berkoff was in second place behind eventual winner Regan Smith at the turn, but Berkoff slipped to fourth after late surges from Rhyan White and Olivia Smoliga.

Smith, the former world record holder in the event, clinched an automatic berth at the Tokyo Olympics with the win. She touched the wall first in 58.35 seconds. White narrowly edged Smoliga by .12 seconds for the second-place finish and a likely spot on the U.S. Olympic team. White finished in 58.6 seconds, just ahead of Smoliga's 58.72. Berkoff touched the wall in 58.82 seconds.

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 200-meter butterfly on Tuesday, placing 47th with a time of 2 minutes, 4.40 seconds. Harder, who swims collegiately at the University of Texas, placed 51st in the 100-meter backstroke prelims on Monday with a time of 56.22 seconds. He's also scheduled to compete in 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.