Did Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh Just Have the Best Dual Meet Performance Ever vs. Texas?

by Riley Overend 18

October 28th, 2023 ACC, Big 12, College, News


  • Oct. 27-28, 2023
  • UVA Aquatic and Fitness Center
    • Charlottesville, Virginia
  • SCY (25 yards)
  • Results on MeetMobile: “UVA v Texas Dual”
  • Day 1 Live Recap
  • Day 2 Live Recap

Virginia junior Gretchen Walsh treated fans (including a pool-record 1,223 spectators on Friday) to quite possibly the greatest dual meet performance of all time in a practice suit across two days of swimming against Texas this weekend in Charlottesville.

Walsh started off with a 22.54 backstroke leadoff during Friday’s 200 medley relay, lowering her own American record from last season and coming just .02 seconds shy of the fastest time ever set by LSU’s Maggie MacNeil at the 2023 SEC Championships (22.52).

Then Walsh went 20.95 in the 50 free, just .12 seconds off her own American record (20.83 from the 2023 ACC Championships) and .16 seconds off the fastest time ever by Maggie MacNeil at the 2023 NCAA Championships (20.79).

Walsh added another personal best in the 100 butterfly with a winning time of 49.11, dropping a couple tenths off her previous-best 49.34 from the 2023 ACC Championships. She beat Texas senior Emma Sticklen by more than three seconds in the 1-on-1 super final, in the process becoming the fourth-fastest performer of all time.

Walsh capped off her first day of action with a 20.78 freestyle anchor on Virginia’s 200 free relay. She has been as fast as 20.48 before, but her split was still faster than everyone at the 2023 NCAA Championships besides Kate Douglass (20.34), MacNeil (20.37) and herself (20.59).

On Saturday, Walsh kept it going with a 49.17 backstroke leadoff on Virginia’s 400 medley relay, lowering her season-best 50.29 (vs. Florida) by more than a second and coming within a second of her NCAA-record 48.26 from the 2023 NCAA Championships. Only Regan Smith (49.16) and Katharine Berkoff (48.74) have ever been faster. Speaking of Berkoff, the NC State fifth year is the only other swimmers besides Walsh to go sub-51 in the 100 back this season (50.83).

Walsh also triumphed individually in the 100 free with a winning time of 46.42, the fastest time in the NCAA this season by more than a second and the fastest dual meet time ever in the event ahead of Douglass (46.86). Walsh’s lifetime best is a 45.61 from her NCAA title last season, just off Simone Manuel‘s record of 45.56 from 2017.

Walsh concluded her weekend with a 46.46 split on the third leg of Virginia’s 400 free relay, which finished in a nation-leading time of 3:12.74. Both the Cavalier men and women ended up sweeping the Longhorns on Friday and Saturday.

Gretchen Walsh vs. Texas – Oct. 27-28, 2023

  • 50 back – 22.54, American record
  • 50 free – 20.95
  • 100 fly – 49.11
  • 50 free relay split – 20.78
  • 100 back – 49.17
  • 100 free – 46.42
  • 100 free relay split – 46.46

So where does her weekend rank among all-time dual meet performances? There’s argument for it being the best ever. However, Arizona State star Leon Marchand might have something to say about that.

Last season, Marchand broke the NCAA record in the 400 IM (3:31.84) while adding wins in the 100 breast (51.01) and 200 breast (1:48.82) during a dual meet against Cal in January. The day before vs. Stanford, he posted wins in the 100 breast (51.15), 200 breast (1:49.16), and 200 IM (1:38.89), giving him two days worth of dual meet times to compare vs. Walsh.

Leon Marchand vs. Cal, Stanford – Jan. 20-21, 2023

  • 200 IM – 1:38.89
  • 50 breast split – 22.99
  • 100 breast – 51.01
  • 200 breast – 1:48.82
  • 400 IM – 3:31.84 (NCAA record)

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Norbert J Ertel
6 months ago

When your hot, your hot. Simple as that. When your the best, you are the best…Simple as that…..

Steve Nolan
6 months ago

Was Leon suited up for last year’s Cal meet? If he was, it’s Walsh for sure.

NornIron Swim
Reply to  Steve Nolan
6 months ago

I think Bowman said last year in an interview that they suited for all their dual meets because they wanted to swim fast – or training them to swim fast in a suit. Something like that.

So probably yes.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
6 months ago

When he broke an NCAA record, yes, he was suited.

Reply to  Steve Nolan
6 months ago

Gretchen was great. No question. But she has often been great in duals, whether suited or not. Let’s see how she ends up when suited and rested. We can then evaluate where her dual meet stand. Some folks are not helped as much as others by suiting up. Great either way. Great Gretchen.

6 months ago

Here for the “Wuffie envy” comments…….

6 months ago

There have to have been times when athletes set multiple NCAA records in dual meets

Nicole Miller
Reply to  JimSwim22
6 months ago

Ledecky’s NCAA debut with Stanford where she set multiple NCAA and possible American records I think

Nicole Miller
Reply to  Nicole Miller
6 months ago

Correction, maybe not her debut but her first swim swimming the mile she broke the 1650 and 1000 NCAA records

Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
6 months ago

Shame KD and CC not racing w UVA this year

former UVA fan
Reply to  Sweet Sweet Peter Rosen
6 months ago

Stupid NCAA rules.

6 months ago

In October, in a practice suit. She looked like a torpedo underwater.

6 months ago


Austin K
6 months ago

KD also went 20.34 split at 2023 NCAAs

About Riley Overend

Riley is an associate editor interested in the stories taking place outside of the pool just as much as the drama between the lane lines. A 2019 graduate of Boston College, he arrived at SwimSwam in April of 2022 after three years as a sports reporter and sports editor at newspapers …

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