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.