Did Gretchen Walsh Earn the Title of Fastest Woman Ever?

Tonight Gretchen Walsh broke two very big barriers. She became the first woman to ever swim a sub-20 50 free, splitting 19.95 from a relay swing, as well as swimming a 20.57 in the individual 50 free, lowering her own hours-old record by .2.

Obviously, she is the fastest woman to ever come through the NCAA ranks. But if we look at these swims from a global perspective, does this make Gretchen Walsh the fastest woman ever? Obviously, the rest of the world doesn’t compete in yards pools, so it’s hard to compare.

But here’s my short-and-sweet, American rationale: until Sarah Sjostrom competes in a yards meet, Gretchen Walsh has the crown for fastest ever.

Don’t confuse this for GREATEST SPRINTER ever. I’m not THAT boisterous about yards swimming. But come on… no other woman has gone 19. And it’s not even close.

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Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
1 month ago

She’s the fastest in SCY. “Fastest ever” is a meaningless title without context. I ate some bad chicken last week and that food ran through me in seconds. I could make a claim for “fastest ever” based on that.

Swim Dad
1 month ago

Gretchen has a claim to fastest US SCY swimmer.

Fastest women’s swimmer Sara S.

Fastest US swimmers Kate D., Simone M. and Abbey W.

Gretchen has a chance to enter the ranks this summer in LC. Can’t base fastest swimmer on an event that you swim six strokes for the length of the pool with 2/3 of the time underwater.

Swim Dad
Reply to  Swim Dad
1 month ago

This is the other Swim Dad (didn’t know there was another here). Even my AG’s talk about how Meters is actual swimming racing. Yards is viewed as a contest of who can turn and underwater the best.

Old Fat Guy
1 month ago

Convert Sarah Sjostrom 50 M LC 50 free to SC yards – check the time (20.05?), flat start, no turn, no underwaters

Can’t kick can’t pull
1 month ago

… in the great sport of bath tub… in the greatest country on earth…

1 month ago

Who hit the highest top-speed during their race, that should answer the question

Last edited 1 month ago by Facts
Joshua Liendo-Edwards-Smith
Reply to  Facts
1 month ago

The highest top speed would be immediately after hitting the water from the dive. The highest top speed over the water favours SCY because it’s a shorter race.

Tea rex
1 month ago

Follow up question: is Gretchen the fastest woman in the UVA training group???

1 month ago


VA Steve
1 month ago

Don’t you love that greatness has to be questioned by those on their couch with digital muscles? Always a source of enjoyment. Gretchen, well done.

Steve Nolan
Reply to  VA Steve
1 month ago

whoa, and the digital muscles could also refer to like, muscles in your fingers. (y’know, “digits.” and…keyboards.)

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About Coleman Hodges

Coleman Hodges

Coleman started his journey in the water at age 1, and although he actually has no memory of that, something must have stuck. A Missouri native, he joined the Columbia Swim Club at age 9, where he is still remembered for his stylish dragon swim trunks. After giving up on …

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