Gretchen Walsh

View Current photo via Courtesy of Jack Spitser

Gretchen Walsh is a competitive swimmer who represents the United States internationally. Gretchen first appeared on SwimSwam at the age of 12, the same age that her sister Alex Walsh made her first appearance. Soon after that, Gretchen went on to break numerous NAG records, both as an individual and in relays.

Youngest Under 22

On March 3, 2018, at the Southern Premiere in Nashville, Tennessee, Gretchen broke the 22 second barrier in the 50 free for the first time in her career, touching the wall at 21.85. That was not only a best time, but also set the NAG for 15-16 girls. Oddly enough, Gretchen had already been under the old 15-16 NAG of 22.04 (22.00), but she had only been 14 when she had posted that time, so it wasn’t eligible for the 15-16 record. This made Gretchen the youngest female to ever break 22 seconds in the 50 free.

2018 US Nationals

In the first session in Irvine, Walsh touched in 54.38 in the 100 freestyle, making her the youngest 15-year-old female in US history in the event. That also garnered her a spot in her first A-final at a senior national meet. Her finals swim qualified her for the Jr. Pan Pacific Championships team.

2018 Jr Pan Pacific Championships

In Fiji, Walsh swam the 200 free (12th, 2:01.99), 100 free (1st, 54.47, breaking Simone Manuel’s 2012 meet record), 100 fly (16th in prelims, 1:02.27), and 50 free (2nd, 25.57).

She also swam on Team USA’s gold medal winning mixed 4×100 medley relay, 4×200 free relay, 4×100 free relay, and 4×100 medley relay, netting 5 golds and a silver from the meet.

2019 Southern Premiere

Gretchen kept the good times rolling into 2019, and in her home pool in Nashville dropped 3 NAGs in 1 weekend. First she helped Nashville Aquatic Club to a new record in the 200 medley relay, splitting 21.25 on the anchor leg. She then matched her already existing 15-16 NAG in the 50 free by touching at 21.82 for the 2nd time in her career. On the final day of the meet, she blew away the old 15-16 100 free NAG (held by Simone Manuel) posting a time of 47.49, cutting over 2 tenth off the old record of 47.73.

2019 US Nationals

At the 2019 US nationals, Walsh placed in the top 16 in 4 events, recording personal bests in all of them. She placed 2nd in both the 50 (24.85) and 100 (54.13) free, qualifying her for spots on the World Jr Roster in both events.

She also placed 9th in the 100 back (1:00.26, 2nd fastest time overall in finals) and 13th (58.84) in the 100 fly.

2019 World Junior Championships

Before the start of the meet, Walsh was voted as 1 of 5 captains for Team USA.

In her first finals race of the meet, Walsh split 53.60 anchoring the mixed 400 medley relay, which helped USA net a gold medal and break the world record in the event.

On day 3 of competition, Walsh touched 1st in the 100 free, besting the field by nearly a full second to touch in a personal best of 53.74, marking her first time under the 54 second barrier. Walsh was back less than an hour later, anchoring the mixed 4×100 free relay in 53.83 to touch for gold and a new world junior record of 3:25.92.

Walsh helped the US to another relay gold on day 5, this time in the 4×100 free relay.

On the final day of the meet, Walsh capped her individual events with a win in the 50 free, going a big personal best of 24.71. She finished her program in the 4×100 medley relay, anchoring in 53.01 to help USA win gold.

Commitment to Virginia

Gretchen Walsh was ranked the #1 swimmer in the class of 2021 in SwimSwam’s Way Too Early NCAA Recruits list as a junior in high school. On January 4th, 2020, Gretchen announced she would follow in the footsteps of her sister, sending her verbal commitment to the University of Virginia.

2 National High School Records, 1 Weekend

At the 2020 TISCA State Championships, Walsh took down not 1, but 2 national high school records in the 50 and 100 free. Both were formerly held by 2016 Olympian Abbey Weitzeil. On day 1 of the meet, Walsh swam to a 21.59 in the 50 free, taking .05 off of Weitzeil’s old record. On day 2, Walsh touched at 46.98, winning by over 3 seconds and becoming the 1st girl to break 47 seconds in high school competition.

College (Virginia)

2021-2022

Gretchen had a phenomenal freshman season, going multiple personal bests in-season at dual meets. This was highlighted by Walsh breaking the unofficial American record in the 50 back, clocking a 23.04 leading off the 200 medley relay at the UVA/NC State dual meet in January.

She kept the momentum rolling at her first ACCs, where she placed 2nd in the 50 free (21.04, just .04 behind her teammate Kate Douglass), 2nd in the 100 back (50.13), and 2nd in the 100 free (46.86, again just .05 behind teammate Kate Douglass). She also helped UVA to relays titles in the 200 free (1:24.47, NCAA, US Open, and American record), 200 medley (1:31.81, NCAA, US Open, and American record), 400 medley (3:22.34, NCAA, US Open, and American record), and 400 free (3:08.22, meet record) relays.

At her first NCAA Championships, Walsh placed 2nd in the 50 free (20.95, #3 performer All-Time), 2nd in the 100 back (49.00, #2 performer All-Time), and won her first individual NCAA title in the 100 free at 46.05 (#4 performer All-Time). She also helped UVA to title in the 200 free, 400 free, 200 medley, and 400 medley relays, breaking NCAA, US Open, and American record in the 400 medley and free relays.

2022 U.S. Summer Nationals

Over the course of the week in Irvine, CA Walsh raced the 50 free, 100 free, 100 back, and 100 butterfly, winning the National Title in the latter of the four events with her time of 57.44. She also earned runner-up finishes in both the 50 freestyle (24.47) and 100 freestyle (53.86), while finishing 5th in the 100 backstroke (1:00.03). Notably, this meet served as a “redemption” meet for Walsh, who failed to qualify for the 2022 US World Championships team and the 2021 Olympic Team after entering a favorite to make both teams. Citing her mental strategy, Walsh’s Virginia coach Todd DeSorbo had her wearing a practice suit through the prelims of the 100 freestyle, not allowing her to race in a tech suit until she hit a predetermined time standard. Based off of the fact that she raced in a tech suit for the 100 freestyle final and throughout the remainder of the weekend, Walsh’s prelims time of 54.77 presumptuously  hit the standard.

International Medals

Place Event Year Meet
Gold 50 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 100 Free 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 400 Freestyle Relay 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 400 Medley Relay 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 400 Mixed Free Relay 2019 World Junior Championships
Gold 400 Mixed Medley Relay 2019 World Junior Championships

Best Times

Course Event Time Date Meet
scy 50 Free 20.94 11/17/22 2022 Tennessee Invite
Knoxville, Tennessee
scy 100 Free 46.05 02/19/22 2022 NCAA Championships
Atlanta, Georgia
scy 200 Free 1:43.75 03/06/20 2020 Southern Premiere
Nashville, Tennesssee
scy 50 Back 22.81 03/16/22 2022 NCAA Championships
Atlanta, Georgia
scy 100 Back 49.00 02/18/22 2022 NCAA Championships
Atlanta, Georgia
scy 100 Fly 50.53 10/22/22 Virginia vs Florida
Charlottesville, Virginia
scy 100 IM 52.09 11/04/22 Texas vs Virginia
Austin, Texas
lcm 50 Free 24.47 07/30/22 2022 U.S. Summer National Championships
Irvine, California
lcm 100 Free 53.74 08/22/19 2019 World Junior Championships
Budapest, Hungary
lcm 50 Back 27.78 04/28/22 2022 International Team Trials
Greensboro, North Carolina
lcm 100 Back 59.80 07/29/22 2022 U.S. National Championships
Irvine, California
lcm 50 Fly 25.97 04/27/22 2022 International Team Trials
Greensboro, North Carolina
lcm 100 Fly 57.43 03/05/21 2021 GA Dynamo Long Course Elite Meet
Atlanta, Georgia
Alex Walsh Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser) Gretchen Walsh (photo: Jack Spitser)