Hali Flickinger is off to a record-breaking start at the 2018 Phillips 66 USA Swimming National Championships in Irvine, California.
In a preliminary qualifying race on Wednesday, the Spring Grove High School graduate broke the meet record in the 200 butterfly — a mark that was set back in 1981.
Flickinger, 24, finished in 2 minutes, 5.87 seconds, smashing the meet record of Mary T. Meagher. It was easily the oldest nationals meet record on the books.
The former University of Georgia standout who now trains at the Athens Bulldogs Swim Club is the No. 1 seed in the event. She finished seventh in the 200 fly at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
Flickinger moved to second in the world rankings for 2018 behind Great Britain’s Alys Thomas (2:05.45) and is now the third-fastest American all-time in the event, sitting behind Mary Descenza (2:04.14) and Kathleen Hersey (2:05.78).
Flickinger also moved to 18th all-time in the world rankings behind Susie O’Neill (2:05.81) of Australia and just ahead of American Misty Hyman (2:05.88).
Flickinger will attempt to win a national championship in the 200 fly final at 9 p.m. Wednesday She is the defending champion in the event and would have to be considered a strong favorite to win the race.
The second-place finisher in the preliminary action was Stanford’s Katie Drabot at 2:07.30, which was nearly a second and a half behind Flickinger’s preliminary time.