2024 U.S. Olympic Trials: ACC Swimmers Are Going Beast Mode

2024 U.S. OLYMPIC TRIALS

Seven sessions into the 2024 U.S. Olympic Trials and one trend is emerging: the Atlantic Coast Conference is showing up big at this meet.

Tickets Punched

At time of writing, three ACC-trained swimmers have punched their tickets to Paris. That already matches the three athletes who were named to the Tokyo roster across both the men’s and women’s teams, Kate Douglass and Alex Walsh in the 200 IM, and Paige Madden in 400 free and 4×200 free relay. All three trained with the University of Virginia. So far, only Madden has made the Paris roster in those same events, though she has since switched to Bob Bowman’s training group.

The headliner of this story is Gretchen Walsh. On night one, she lowered the 100 butterfly world record by exactly three-tenths, definitively announcing herself as a contender on the world stage. A day later, she earned her first Olympic berth, swimming the second fastest time in history in finals.

Walsh will be a senior at the University of Virginia in the fall, whose women’s team is on a four-year NCAA title streak. She has been around for three of those titles and owns four individual NCAA records. The younger Walsh’s exploits in yards have been extensively documented, so we won’t go into too much more detail, but she’s thrived under Todd DeSorbo. Her performance so far at this meet could hardly be called unexpected. All eyes will be on her in the 100 free semi tonight. She swam the third-fastest time in prelims, but based on her 100 fly performance we could be in store for something special.

Chris Guiliano swims for the University of Notre Dame. After two years at the helm of the program, head coach Chris Lindauer has catapulted the Fighting Irish to new heights. A lot of that success can be owed to Guiliano, who has shown rapid improvement in just three years.

Guiliano was named the men’s ACC Swimmer of the Year alongside Walsh, the women’s recipient, and unexpectedly made his first Olympic team in the 200 free after coming in seeded 29th on the psych sheets. He had a stellar morning in the 100 free, 47.65 to hold onto his #2 seed. Based on his performance in the 200, we can expect a faster time tonight.

Emma Weber rounds out the ACC swimmers who have secured Olympic berths. She upset reigning Olympic champion Lydia Jacoby in the 100 breaststroke, clocking 1:06.10 to finish 2nd in the 100 breaststroke. While she won’t officially be named to the team until later in the meet, there doesn’t appear to be any risk of the 2nd-place qualifiers missing the team.

Another UVA swimmer, Weber has only made an NCAA A-final twice in her collegiate career, so her qualification may have come as even more of a surprise.

The Best is Yet to Come

Three swimmers from the ACC have punched their tickets to Paris, so far. On deck tonight is the 100 backstroke, where Katharine Berkoff looks ready to make her first Olympic team. Berkoff just wrapped up five years with NC State, which included three NCAA titles in the 100 back. Last night, she became the #4 performer of all-time and the fifth woman in history to break the 58-second barrier.

While she’ll still have to get to the wall 1st or 2nd tonight to secure her spot, she’s already written her name in the history books.

Berkoff’s teammate Kennedy Noble will also swim in the final tonight. She broke 59-seconds for the first time in prelims and turned in her second-fastest performance in semis.

Also in that heat is a future member of the Wolfpack: Leah Shackley is committed to NC State starting this fall. This will be her first Olympic Trials final.

We’ll also see Claire Curzan compete in the 100 back final tonight. Curzan started her NCAA career in Stanford, but transferred to Virginia after her freshman year and has spent her redshirt season training with the UVA group. Since then, it seems she’s made the transition to backstroke on the international stage (after qualifying for her first Olympic team in butterfly).

Ross Dant, another Wolfpack swimmer, competes in the 800 free final tonight, where he’s seeded 4th.

There’s also AJ Pouch, a Virginia Tech swimmer who is the top seed out of prelims in the men’s 200 breast after posting a personal best. He’ll try to make his second Trials final tonight in semis.

Jack Aikins of Virginia is also one to watch. He recorded a 3rd-place finish in the 100 back and is better in the 200, which has yet to swim.

It may be surprising, but we’ve barely seen Tokyo Olympians Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass so far at this meet. Walsh competed in the 100 breast, finishing 6th, but has her better 200 IM coming up later in the week. She’s also entered in the 200 breast, an event she hasn’t contested yet on the international stage.

Meanwhile, Douglass has expanded her international repertoire since Tokyo, adding the 100 free (she swims in semis tonight), the 200 breast, and the 50 free.

Having a Meet

There are only 52 roster spots up for grabs at this meet and over 900 athletes, but not everyone is here to make an international team.

There are still a lot of ACC swimmers still having the meet of their lives. To name a few:

  • Kaelyn Gridley (Duke) went a 1.2-second best in the 100 breast, earning a finals berth where she ultimately finished 5th.
  • Quintin McCarty (NC State) dipped under 49 seconds for the first time in the 100 freestyle.
  • Tommy Janton and Tanner Filion of Notre Dame both swam the 100 back. Janton made the final (8th), while Filion finished 15th in only his fourth time swimming the long course version of the event.

And we have to give a shout-out to Tommy Bried of Louisville, who crushed massive personal bests in the 200 fly and 200 breast on opposite ends of the prelims session this morning and will swim in both semifinals tonight.

The Best is Yet to Come

There are surely some ACC swimmers we’ve left out, and surely more who will continue to impress as the week wears on. That’s not even mentioning athletes from Cal and Stanford, who are set to join the conference next season. After all, we’re not even halfway through the meet.

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HOO love
1 month ago

Paige Madden also ACC 2020 Olympian

VA Steve
1 month ago

Regan!!!

Jessica lange
1 month ago

What about cal???? Wow..

CraigH
1 month ago

Let’s not forget all the Stanford and Cal swimmers having a great meet!

RealCrocker5040
Reply to  CraigH
1 month ago

Andrew and Relay Names Guy just collapsed

Andrew
Reply to  CraigH
1 month ago

Stanford women are swimming great but aside from Alexy who’s swam once who else from Cal is swimming well?

Trenton “Steinway” Julian has regressed even further and taught Jett is ways which made him add 6 seconds to his PB. Lasco’s backstroke looks like hes swimming with a parachute, and roid boy Murphy is doing roid boy Murphy things. Bell went 49.5 and could barely break a minute muscling through 1 breast. Soderlund choked here too

Last edited 1 month ago by Andrew
Snarky
1 month ago

You forgot to mention the Cal and Stanford. They are ACC as of today afterall!