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Missoula's Katharine Berkoff scorches in 100 backstroke semifinals at U.S. Olympic Trials

Katharine Berkoff
Posted at 2:09 PM, Jun 17, 2024

INDIANAPOLIS — Missoula native Katharine Berkoff won her heat in the 100-meter backstroke semifinals at the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Swim Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium, posting one of the fastest times ever by an American woman.

Berkoff, a Hellgate High School graduate who just completed her final season of collegiate eligibility at North Carolina State, won her race 57.83, beating second-place Josephine Fuller (58.79) by nearly a full second.

The win sends Berkoff into the 100 backstroke finals on Tuesday as she looks for a berth at the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris.

Regan Smith, the American record holder in the event, broke her own mark in the 100 backstroke in the following heat, winning in 57.47 seconds.

Berkoff had the second-fastest qualifying time after the women's 100-meter backstroke preliminary races earlier Monday, winning her heat with a time of 58.09 seconds.

Berkoff is also competing in the 50- and 100-meter freestyle races this week. The 100 freestyle prelims are Tuesday, and the 50 freestyle prelims are Saturday.

Berkoff had a decorated career at North Carolina State, setting the school record in seven events, winning five national championships and becoming a 30-time All-American. In 2024, she was the NCAA champion in the 100 backstroke and an All-American in the 50 freestyle, 100 freestyle, 200 freestyle relay and 400 medley relay.

Berkoff is one of two Montanans swimming at this year's Olympic Trials. Liam Kerns of Billings swam in the men's 100-meter breaststroke prelims on Saturday.

(Editor's note: This story has been corrected to add the 100-meter backstroke semifinals on Monday. The original story omitted the semifinal races.)