arena Swim of the Week: Gretchen Walsh Levels Up With 56.73 100 Fly

Swim of the Week is brought to you by arena, a SwimSwam partner.

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)

  1. Torri Huske, 55.64 – 2022 World Championships
  2. Dana Vollmer, 55.98 – 2012 Olympic Games
  3. Claire Curzan, 56.20 – 2021 TAC Titans LC Premier Meet
  4. Kelsi Dahlia, 56.37 – 2017 World Championships
  5. Kate Douglass, 56.56 – 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials
  6. Regan Smith, 56.60 – 2023 Pro Swim Series – Fort Lauderdale
  7. Gretchen Walsh, 56.73 – 2023 NCAP Elite Qualifier
  8. Christine Magnuson, 57.08 – 2008 Olympic Games
  9. Katie McLaughlin, 57.23 – 2019 World Championships
  10. 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.

Split Comparison

Walsh, 2021 DYNA Elite LC Walsh, 2022 Nationals Walsh, 2023 NCAP Elite prelims Walsh, 2023 NCAP Elite final
26.88 26.17 27.20 26.64
57.43 (30.55) 57.44 (31.27) 57.24 (30.04) 56.73 (30.09)

It’s notable that only the gold and silver medalists from last year’s World Championships, Torri Huske and Marie Wattel, closed quicker than Walsh’s 30.04 from the prelims in the Budapest final.

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.

2022-2023 LCM Women 100 Fly

View Top 26»

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.

See arena North America here.

Follow arena USA on Instagram here.

About arena

arena has revolutionized the world of aquatic sport through insightful collaboration with world class athletes and the development of cutting edge competitive swimwear since 1973. Today, this spirit of collaboration and innovation lives on through a continuous evolution of advanced materials and Italian design that improves the performance, style and expression of all those who chose arena. From leading the lanes to living in style, arena is dedicated to providing all swimmers with the tools they need to express themselves, feel confident, win and achieve more. Because in arena, you can.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 months ago

Things are getting very interesting. I wonder if Gretchy will pull off a Worlds appearance whilst Alex wont? (I hope they both do).

Reply to  Chris
3 months ago

I think they both will. And I think that 2:09 from Alex is more impressive than people realise. The reigning world champion will be ready.

4 kick pullout
3 months ago

Yeah cmon 2:09 is crazy for not swimming the event in 10 months. No matter who u are. I have to imagine Alex is shooting for a 2:05 and has her training set on that. I’m thinking she didn’t put all her chips into ncaas lowkey

Reply to  4 kick pullout
3 months ago

Said it before but I was amazed at how quickly the recent hype overlooked the reigning World Champion. I agree with you, she is at least training for the American Record. Todd is no fool and she has the talent. They know what it will take in this shark pool.

Reply to  Chris
3 months ago

Alex Douglass was the bronze medalist in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke at the 2022 World Aquatics Championships. Furthermore, Kate Douglass has posted a faster time in the women’s 200 meter breaststroke than Lilly King during calendar year 2023.

HOO love
Reply to  Weinstein-Smith-Ledecky-Sims
3 months ago

Is this the first time names guy didn’t list a swimmers date of birth? Or mixed up two names as he did with “Alex Douglass”? 🤣

3 months ago

comment image&ct=g

3 months ago


Regan Smith gets no respect, I’ll tell ya!

4 kick pullout
Reply to  James Sutherland
3 months ago

They don’t read. None of em. They just chit chat. How many weeks/ posts has that blurb been included in?

Reply to  4 kick pullout
3 months ago

Relay Names Guy never has anything relevant to say.

3 months ago

what do you think she swims at trials

Reply to  bryan
3 months ago

She swim 50/100 free and 50/100 fly
Also, She could swim 50/100 back

Reply to  Gitech
3 months ago

No event coincides with her, only on the third day that after the 100 butterfly she has the 50 back, but for the rest she has one event per day:
D1: 100 free
D2: 50 fly
D3: 100 fly, 50 back
D4: 100 back
D5: 50 free

3 months ago

If Kate Douglass swims this on top of Regan, Claire, Torri, and Gretchen, this might be the most exciting race of trials

Reply to  400IMLuvr
3 months ago

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think Douglass can win the 100 fly this year and get Gold in Paris. Or she can end up in the top 5. Thats how stacked this event is.

Reply to  Chris
3 months ago

So in other words you’re saying it may rain tomorrow, but it could also be sunny.

4 kick pullout
Reply to  LBSWIM
3 months ago

No what he’s saying is we’ve never seen this amount of talent in W swimming on a national/ international stage. Lots of stars with huge names, results, and hype behind them. Unprecedented. This and the 2 IM are some of the highlights esp on the US level but also world level when u think about it.

Reply to  4 kick pullout
3 months ago

By the time the W 200 IM rolls around, the likes of Douglass (50 FR), Huske (50 FR), Smith may just say the heck with it.

Reply to  LBSWIM
3 months ago


About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

Read More »