Video: Regan Smith conquers deep backstroke field to clinch Olympic spot

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Regan Smith is going to Tokyo.

On Tuesday night, Smith won the women’s 100m backstroke in 58.35, defeating one of the deepest fields at U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials. Rhyan White finished second, likely securing her own Olympic spot.

“It’s a big relief. I’m honestly really glad it’s over,” Smith said after her win. “I knew it was going to be extremely tough to come out on top.”

Video of Regan Smith’s win in the women’s 100m backstroke at U.S. Olympic Trials:

Smith, 19, made her first major breakthrough at the 2019 World Championships, where she broke three world records despite only qualifying in one individual event. 200m back, 100m back (as part of the 4x100m medley relay), and 4x100m medley relay.

She then returned home to Minnesota to complete her senior year at Lakeville North High School.

Halfway through last summer, Smith decided to take a gap year, deferring her freshman year at Stanford. The self-described “homebody” enrolled in a few community college classes while adjusting to being the oldest member of Riptide Swim Club training group. (For more on Smith’s recent rise, see the video profile embedded above.) 

Last November, Smith told On Her Turf that she felt taking a year off between high school and college had allowed her to “just be a kid for once.”

ALSO FROM ON HER TURF: Olympic delay gave Regan Smith a chance to be a kid again

On Sunday, one day before U.S. Olympic Trials began, Smith saw her world record in the 100m backstroke fall. Halfway around the world at Australia’s Olympic Trials, another 19-year-old – Kaylee McKeown – took 12 hundredths off Smith’s world record.

“For that world record, I’ve got some work to do,” Smith said after Tuesday’s win. “I’m excited I have another shot in Tokyo to race the best of the best.”

READ MORE: U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials results

Follow Alex Azzi on Twitter @AlexAzziNBC