14-Year Old Gretchen Walsh Blasts 21.01 Relay Split at Easts-Day 1


Day 1 of the 2017 Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East kick off on Wednesday from Knoxville, Tennessee at the Alan Jones Aquatic Center.

The first day of the meet is just relays, the 200 medley and 800 free to be specific, but plenty of stars will still be in action, including groups from SwimMAC Carolina, the Mason Manta Rays, and the Baylor Swim Club – among other juggernauts of east coast and upper midwest club swimming.

Refresh this page, events will be updated as they happen.

Girls’ 200 Medley Relay – Timed Finals

  • Short Course Juniors Record (combined) – 1:38.65, Fort Collins Area Swim Team, 2016 (Stewart, Bartel, Gillilan, Alons)

The first event champions, and first record-breakers of what should be many at this year’s meet, is the girls’ 200 medley relay from Cardinal Aquatics in Louisville, Kentucky. The team of Krista WheelerKaylee WheelerKelly Tichenor, and Gabriela Albiero combined for a 1:38.48, which broke the old record of 1:38.85 set in 2016.

That relay featured a 24.88 from their 14-year old backstroke leadoff Krista Wheeler, and a 22.11 anchor from their 15-year old anchor Gabriela Albiero, one of the children of Louisville head coach Arthur Albiero.

While those young swimmers got the win and the record, they weren’t the young swimmer that caught the primary attention of the nation on Thursday. That honor belonged to the anchor of the 2nd-place Nashville Aquatic Club relay, which also was faster than the old meet record with a 1:38.74.

Of note, while both relays were under the old 15-18 National Age Group Record, both relays had 14 year olds on them, making them ineligible for that record.\

For NAC, the anchor leg was 14-year old Gretchen Walsh, who split 21.01. To put that in perspective, that’s faster than every medley relay anchor at last year’s NCAA Championship meet, and is one of the fastest 50 freestyle splits ever, at any age. Only 6 female swimmers in history, that we know of, have split under 21 in the 50 free. Walsh very nearly did it at just 14 years old.

No other swimmer in the field split sub-22 on the anchor leg.

Not to be overlooked, 16-year old Alex Walsh, Gretchen’s older sister, led off the relay in a 24.17 backstroke split – the fastest in the field by about 7-tenths of a second.

Boys’ 200 Medley Relay – Timed Finals

  • Short Course Juniors Record (combined) – 1:27.11, Scottsdale Aquatic Club, 2016 (Hoffer, Gage, Van Deusen, Blake)

The first boys’ event of the day went to the Mason Manta Rays of suburban Cincinnati, and unlike the competitive girls’ race, the Manta Rays ran away with the win. The team of Carson Foster (21.80), Jake Foster (23.92), Jacob McDonald (22.08), and Adam Chaney (19.78) combined for a 1:27.58, which put them more than two seconds ahead of the rest of the field.

Jake Foster, at 17 the older brother of Carson, split sub-24 on his 50 breaststroke: only two other (legal) swimmers in the field were even sub-25, and neither was all that close to Foster’s split.

Carmel Swim Club took 2nd in 1:29.83.

Among other significant splits in the race was a 19.39 from Jack Franzman to anchor the Zionsville Swim Club to a 19th-place finish. Franzman will swim for Indiana next fall. He was outdone only by 16-year old Henry Schutte of the Grand Rapids Area YMCA, who split 19.37 on his team’s anchor for 39th place.

Girls’ 800 Free Relay – Timed Finals

  • Short Course Juniors Record (combined) – 7:07.81 – Carmel Swim Club (Burchill, Pash, Nordin, Gothrock) – 2016

Not long after the Walsh sisters’ explosive performance in the 200 medley relay, they were back at it again in the 800 free relay. This time, though, Nashville came away with the win and the record – swimming a 7:05.85 that was 6 seconds better than the rest of the field.

This time it was the older Alex Walsh who had the biggest swim – she anchored the 800 free relay in 1:44.15. That was the fastest split in the field by a second-and-a-half and would’ve had a spot on all but the two-fastest (Stanford and Cal) 800 free relays at last year’s NCAA Championships.

Gretchen split 1:46.17 on the team’s 2nd leg, which was almost 2 seconds slower than her sister, but was still the 4th-best split of the field overall.

The full team, with splits:

That is the fastest-ever junior relay, but again, because Gretchen Walsh is only 14, it doesn’t count as any official record in USA Swimming’s books.

SwimMAC Carolina finished 2nd in 7:11.92. In between the Walsh sisters in split rankings were Stanford commit Morgan Tankersely from Tampa (1:45.90) and 16-year old Kelly Pash from the Carmel Swim Club (1:45.58).

Boys’ 800 Free Relay – Timed Final

  • Short Course Juniors Record (combined) – 6:31.93 – Scottsdale Aquatic Club (Hoffer, Blake, Yang, Apel) – 2016

The Carmel Swim Club of Carmel, Indiana led 4 teams under the old SC Juniors overall Meet Record, and eventually came away with the mark in 6:28.25. That also broke the old 15-18 National Age Group Record in the event that was a 6:28.90 set by SwimMAC Carolina in 2013.

Carmel’s splits:

  • Drew Kibler (17) – 1:33.78
  • Brett Sherman (18) – 1:39.62
  • Jacob Mitchell (15) – 1:38.87
  • Wyatt Davis (16) – 1:35.98

Kibler’s leadoff leg jumps him in to 7th place on the all-time 17-18 rankings, bumping legendary swimmer Michael Phelps and his 1:33.82 from 2003 out of that spot. Kibler’s personal best is a 1:33.30, but this is his first taper meet since aging up.

The rest of the teams under the old Short Course Juniors record:

  • Mason Manta Rays (Carson Foster, Chaney, McDonald, Jake Foster) – 6:28.95
  • Baylor Swim Club (Althoff, Kirby, Kurleto, Freeman) – 6:30.65
  • SwimMAC Carolina (Chan, Walker, Poelke, Connery) – 6:31.60

Mason’s relay was led off by a 1:33.76 from 16-year old Carson Foster, which is the 3rd-best time in history by a 15-16 (Kibler is the record-holder in that age group).

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Jon Nap



Can we get video proof? This is crazy

Steve Swims

I don’t believe this is possible for a girl


How tall is she? Looks massive.


Massive? Skinny as a rail, hence the muscle definition


Still didn’t answer the question but thanks.


She,s not massive. She,s skinny though which may make her appear taller than usual. But she is not very tall from all the photos I,ve seen.


I know the Walsh girls personally and they are absolutely lovely inside and out. While both are likely considerably taller than their peers in school, their physiques are both comparable to what you would expect for young elite swimmers. I hope as commenters who all love the sport of swimming that we can keep in mind these are all young athletes who have worked very hard to be where they are. I know when I was competing there was no forum where strangers were able to comment on either my performances or appearance. Gretchen had a massive swim but I doubt very much her, or any other teenage girl, would prefer to be described as “massive”. Let’s keep in mind… Read more »

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Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder of SwimSwam.com. He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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