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Disclaimer: Swim of the Week is not meant to be a conclusive selection of the best overall swim of the week, but rather one Featured Swim to be explored in deeper detail. The Swim of the Week is an opportunity to take a closer look at the context of one of the many fast swims this week, perhaps a swim that slipped through the cracks as others grabbed the headlines, or a race we didn’t get to examine as closely in the flood of weekly meets.
Gretchen Walsh was on fire last weekend at the NCAP Elite Qualifier, throwing down a number of impressive swims as she gears up for the U.S. National Championships later this month.
Her top performance of the competition came in the 100 butterfly, an event she didn’t even contest at either the 2023 NCAA Championships or the U.S. International Team Trials last year.
Walsh has primarily geared her focus toward the sprint freestyle and backstroke events in major competition, but has shown some chops in the long course 100 fly in the past, having broken 58 seconds on three occasions, her fastest coming at 57.43 from March 2021, coming into the meet last weekend.
The 20-year-old set back-to-back personal best times at the NCAP-hosted meet in Stafford, Va., clocking 57.24 in the prelims before getting down to 56.73 in the final, tying her for 21st all-time in the event and seventh among Americans.
All-Time U.S. Performers, Women’s 100 Butterfly (LCM)
- Torri Huske, 55.64 – 2022 World Championships
- Dana Vollmer, 55.98 – 2012 Olympic Games
- Claire Curzan, 56.20 – 2021 TAC Titans LC Premier Meet
- Kelsi Dahlia, 56.37 – 2017 World Championships
- Kate Douglass, 56.56 – 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials
- Regan Smith, 56.60 – 2023 Pro Swim Series – Fort Lauderdale
- Gretchen Walsh, 56.73 – 2023 NCAP Elite Qualifier
- Christine Magnuson, 57.08 – 2008 Olympic Games
- Katie McLaughlin, 57.23 – 2019 World Championships
- Natalie Coughlin, 57.34 – 2007 World Championships
Walsh has always been known for her drop-dead speed, but showed some very impressive back-half ability in her 100 fly swims last Friday, closing in 30-low both times, a significant improvement relative to her swim from U.S. Nationals last year.
|Walsh, 2021 DYNA Elite LC||Walsh, 2022 Nationals||Walsh, 2023 NCAP Elite prelims||Walsh, 2023 NCAP Elite final|
|57.43 (30.55)||57.44 (31.27)||57.24 (30.04)||56.73 (30.09)|
Walsh currently sits fourth in the 2022-23 world rankings, and second among Americans, with Regan Smith (56.60) holding down third and reigning world champion Huske in fifth.
Given the ability Walsh showed on the second 50 of her swims last week, and the idea that she’ll have a bit more easy speed with a full taper, she’s clearly in the hunt for a berth on the World Championship team at U.S. Nationals.
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