Rhyan White, the first Utahn to swim for the United States in the Olympics, finished fourth in the 200-meter backstroke final Friday night at the Tokyo Aquatics Center.
The result was the best for an American in the race, which was won as expected by Australia’s Kaylee McKeown in 2 minutes, 4.68 seconds. That’s about six-tenths of a second off the Olympic record set by Missy Franklin in 2012.
A crowd of nearly 150 gathered at White’s parents house to watch the race. After rising to a nearly ear-splitting ruckous as she came down the stretch, the fans hushed for a moment upon seeing the result. Then, they erupted again in a show of support for the Academy of Math, Engineering and Science graduate and former Cottonwood High swimmer.
“I’m just excited to see the level of suport from friends, family, people who grew up around her,” White’s father, Jeff, said. “She’ll be excited just to get home and see how much support she has.”
Canada’s Kylie Masse (2:05.42) took silver and Australia’s Emily Seebohm (2:06.17) nabbed bronze. Seebohm touched out White by just .22 seconds. White, in turn, finished a mere hundredth of a second ahead of teammate Phoebe Bacon.
White’s time was about six-tenths of a second slower than her personal record of 2:05.73 she swam to win the Olympic Trials last month in Omaha, Nebraska.
She also took fourth in the 100 backstroke in Tokyo.
That she hasn’t yet won a medal didn’t matter to her father.
“I have an Olympian, who’s the fourth fastest in the field,” he said. “I think it’s great.”
White will have one more chance to medal in Tokyo. The University of Alabama swimmer is entered as part of Team USA’s women’s 4x100 medley relay. That final will be held Saturday at 8:15 p.m. MDT.
The rest of the USA team, which is the top seed, includes Lilly King, Claire Curzan and Erika Brown.