Alex Walsh on 200 IM: ‘You just kinda gotta go for it on the first lap”


Reported by James Sutherland.


  • World Record: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 2:06.12 (2015)
  • American Record: Ariana Kukors – 2:06.15 (2009)
  • US Open Record: Kathleen Baker (USA) – 2:08.32 (2018)
  • World Junior Record: Yu Yiting (CHN) – 2:09.64 (2021)
  • 2016 Olympic Champion: Katinka Hosszu (HUN) – 2:06.58
  • 2016 US Olympic Trials Champion: Maya DiRado – 2:09.54
  • Wave I Cut: 2:17.39
  • Wave II Cut: 2:15.26
  • FINA ‘A’ Cut: 2:12.56
  1. Alex Walsh (NAC), 2:09.30
  2. Kate Douglass (UVA), 2:09.32
  3. Madisyn Cox (TXLA), 2:09.34

This meet has had no shortage of unbelievably close three-way finishes, and we might’ve just seen the best one yet.

Alex Walsh came in riding the momentum of hitting a personal best in the semi-finals, and used her strength, the middle 100, to move into the lead after Torri Huske had blasted the fly leg in 26.52.

Madisyn Cox made her move on the breaststroke, taking over second at the 150, and looked to be on the way to finally earning her first Olympic berth. Walsh’s UVA teammate Kate Douglass began to make her push on the freestyle, and then it was the three of them—Walsh, Cox and Douglass—neck and neck in the closing meters.

Despite her stroke tying up at the end, Walsh held on for the win, touching in 2:09.30 to qualify for her first Olympic team, over four tenths slower than the semis.

Douglass, who came back in 31.04, clocked 2:09.32, and Cox lifted her head at the finish, registering a time of 2:09.34. Douglass’ swim improves on her best of 2:09.99 set in the semi-finals. The 19-year-old is now the ninth-fastest American in history, and also the fifth-fastest woman in the world this season.


That gives the Virginia teammates Walsh and Douglass the two Olympic berths, and it marks the first time since 2000 that four different women make it in the medley events.

It’s a painfully close third-place finish for Cox, who set a best time of 2:08.51 earlier this season and placed fourth in both IM events in 2016.

Huske, who was almost eight-tenths under world record pace with her 50 fly split, ended up fourth in 2:10.38, improving on her previous best of 2:11.18 and moving up from sixth to fourth all-time in the 17-18 age group.

Meghan Small picked up fifth in 2:11.65, producing a strong 1:07.9 back-half, while Melanie Margalis, arguably the favorite coming in, was back in sixth in 2:11.77.

Margalis’ bid for a second straight Olympic berth appears all but over after missing in the 400 IM and dropping the 200 freestyle. In Rio, Margalis took fourth in the 200 IM.

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1 month ago

I think that Madisyn Cox would have finished first or second if she had not taken a breath before her last stroke. Kate Douglass powered into the wall without breathing. Did anybody else see the same thing?

Reply to  A C
1 month ago

Must be because she was swinging her arm over air and touched above the water

Reply to  A C
1 month ago

She had a slight lead and I think she just got super lucky. If that race had been inches longer I think Alex would have been out. It was the most exciting race of the week for me so far!

Reply to  A C
1 month ago

Walsh threw her arm around for her last stroke which had more momentum and speed without the water resistance compared with Cox and Douglass who glided in to the wall with more resistance in the water on their last stroke. That’s the only thing that explained it for me. It reminds me of the Phelps/Cavic close call from 2008. I remember when that happened it did not look at all like Phelps won. I guess our eyes deceive us but the touchpad settles everything. The aerial shot they showed on NBC made it look much clearer for me since the usual shot showed Cox kind of threw her head up as she was finishing and that made it look like… Read more »

Last edited 1 month ago by lightning
Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  A C
1 month ago

Cox was clearly decelerating from flags in while Douglas was accelerating. It was a Phelps/Cavic deal. All three of them emptied the tank on that last 50. I thought Walsh was going to need CPR on her way to signing the drum. All three are champions. Cox is going to have one helluva story to tell her patients someday.

1 month ago

I have re-watched the finish of the women’s 200 Free final several times. Paige Madden started her last stroke (left arm) well before Allison Schmitt started hers (right arm), but Schmitt finished her stroke first. Crazy how that happened. Did anybody else notice this?

Awsi Dooger
Reply to  A C
1 month ago

I was going to emphasize the same thing. For all the talk about the 200 medley the finish that stood out to me was Paige Madden with tired looping strokes all the way through the final 15 meters. Her final stroke reminded me of Lochte. As you emphasized, she began that stroke well before Schmitt. But instead of emphatically punching the wall she did the rainbow version and enabled Schmitt to sneak in. I’m amazed that skill of reaching the wall is so widespread pathetic in a sport that analyzes and maximizes everywhere else.

Ol' Longhorn
Reply to  Awsi Dooger
1 month ago

It also shows how just in one program (UVa), you can have two people who train to race primarily mid-distance and shorter stick the finish (Walsh/Douglas), and the other (Madden) who trains separately mid-distance and up blow it. Wouldn’t put Madden in the “pathetic” category: I’d reserve that for Cavic’s and Biondi’s finishes in the 100 fly for silvers.

1 month ago

Thought walsh was going to throw up or pass out on camera after that race last night.

About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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