2017 SPEEDO WINTER JUNIOR CHAMPIONSHIPS – EAST
- December 6 – 9
- Allan Jones Aquatic Center
- Knoxville, TN
- Live results
- Meet Central
- Psych Sheet
- Live Stream
14-year old Gretchen Walsh was the story of the first night (‘Day 0’, if you will) of the 2017 Speedo Winter Junior Championships – East, and continued on to win the 50 free on Thursday in a new National Age Group Record time of 22.26 in prelims and then a 22.00 in finals to break it again.
While she’s clearly a star-in-the-making, the one swimmer in Knoxville this week who has stood even taller is her older sister, 16-year old Alexandra Walsh.
On Friday, swimming in finals, she won 2 more races, the 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke, and set new personal bests in both. She also anchored the Nashville Aquatic Club 200 free relay in 21.61 as the team roared to a 3rd relay victory of the meet.
Walsh’s stardom has been brimming for years, and this week’s meet could be the overflow-point that puts her into legitimate conversations for spots on U.S. international rosters, even as a high school student.
At the 2015 summer Junior National Championships, she had a breakthrough meet to win both the 100 (1:00.84) and 200 (2:10.55) backstrokes in long course…when she was only 13 years old. That winter she won the 100 back and 200 IM at the Winter Junior – East championships.
Fast forward a year to the 2017 Winter Junior Championships -East meet, and the pending stardom took on almost legendary status. She won the 100 back (52.32), the 200 back (1:53.70), broke a combined meets record in the 200 IM (1:54.48) and broke the Winter Juniors (combined meets) Record in the 100 breaststroke (58.80).
And even those 4 wins and 2 Winter Junior Records, she’s elevated again this weekend in Knoxville. And not just an incremental step – but another huge leap. Through the meet’s first 3 nights, she’s swum lifetime bests in the 50 free, 50 back, 100 back, 100 breaststroke, and 200 IM. The latter of those two races were done in National Age Group Records (200 IM | 100 breast).
Walsh has become an incredible talent. She has 900+ Power Point swims in 11 different events in short course yards alone, and has proven that she can race long course as well.
Food for thought on her versatility: of the 25 fastest 100 yard breaststrokers in history (Walsh now ranks 16th), she has the fastest 100 backstroke by almost an entire second. The only other breaststroker who is even close to her in the backstroke races is Melanie Margalis, who swam a 53.17 100 yard backstroke in 2014.