Gretchen Walsh Swims Fourth-Fastest 100 Butterfly in 2023 at NCAP Elite Qualifier

Gretchen Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Gretchen Walsh Swims Fourth-Fastest 100 Butterfly in 2023 at NCAP Elite Qualifier

Coming off a lights-out performance at the NCAA Championships for the second consecutive year, the University of Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh is aiming to represent the United States at a major international competition for the first time this summer. The 20-year-old Walsh swam the fastest 100-yard backstroke in history at NCAAs before also winning the title in the 100-yard freestyle, but as she moves into long course season, she is also set to contend in sprint butterfly, particularly after a sizzling effort in the 100-meter fly Friday evening.

At the NCAP Elite Qualifier in Stafford, Va., Walsh swam a time of 57.24 in the 100 fly prelims, beating her previous best mark of 57.44, and she went even faster at night with a mark of 56.73. That time made her the fourth-fastest swimmer in the world this year, trailing China’s Zhang Yufei, Canada’s Maggie Mac Neil and the USA’s Regan Smith. Walsh sits marginally ahead of the reigning world champion, fellow American Torri Huske, who swam a time of 56.84 two weeks ago at the TYR Pro Swim Series in Mission Viejo, Calif.

If Walsh opts to race the two-lap butterfly sprint at U.S. Nationals in Indianapolis, she will be a definite contender alongside Huske, Smith, World Championships finalist Claire Curzan and 100-yard fly NCAA champion Kate Douglass, a teammate of Walsh’s at the University of Virginia.

Walsh also raced the 50 back in prelims only, where she swam a time of 27.75, while her older sister Alex Walsh won a duel with Nation’s Capital’s Erin Gemmell in the 200 free. The elder Walsh sibling touched in 1:57.84, with Gemmell just behind in 1:57.98.

Alex swam as a prelims swimmer on the 800 free relay at last year’s World Championships while Gemmell just missed qualifying for Worlds with a seventh-place finish in the 200 free at the U.S. International Team Trials. However, Gemmell did finish 2022 as the second-quickest American, and she currently ranks third domestically in 2023 with her time of 1:57.11 from last month.

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