Herriman swimmer Rhyan White stakes claim to world championship

Olympian follows up silver in relay in FINA meet with a gold in the 200-meter backstroke.

(Matthias Schrader | AP) Rhyan White of Herriman swims in a heat of the women's 200-meter backstroke at the 2020 Summer Olympics, Thursday, July 29, 2021, in Tokyo. White won a FINA World Championship in the 200 backstroke in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Saturday, Dec. 18, 2021.

Herriman’s Rhyan White is on top of the world.

White, who in July became the first swimmer from Utah to compete in the Olympics, won the 200-meter backstroke final Saturday at the FINA World Championships in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. She fell behind Canada’s Kylie Masse after the first 50 meters, but surged in the final 50 to win with a time of 2 minutes, 1.58 seconds. Masse touched in 2:02.07 for second and American Isabelle Stadden took bronze.

White and Stadden were the top two qualifiers to the final.

White added the world championship to a silver medal she won Friday as part of the 200-meter medley relay.

The University of Alabama swimmer became the first Crimson Tide swimmer to win individual gold at worlds. She is also believed to be the first Utah swimmer to win a world championship.

“What an amazing race by Rhyan,” Alabama associate head coach Ozzie Quevedo, who is also a Team USA assistant for the World Championships, said in a news release. “After a huge summer, winning the 200 backstroke at the (United States) Olympic Trials and then taking fourth in Tokyo, you could feel that she was on verge of taking the next step and making the podium. She raced smart today and was so tough over that last 50 meters to win the gold. We are so proud of her and everything she has accomplished, and we know this is just the beginning.”

In Tokyo, White brought home a silver medal for her role in helping qualify the 100 medley relay for the final. She also reached the final in the individual 100 and 200 backstroke, placing fourth in both.