Gretchen Walsh Clocks 23.04, Now Fastest American Woman Ever In the 50 Back

by Robert Gibbs 35

January 22nd, 2022 College, News, Previews & Recaps

UVA v NC State

  • Saturday, January 22, 2022
  • Aquatic & Fitness Center, Charlottesville, VA
  • SCY
  • Dual Meet Format
  • Live Results on Meet Mobile as “Virginia vs. NC State”

Today’s battle of ACC rivals Virginia and NC State saw some incredibly fast swimming right out of the gate, as UVA freshman Gretchen Walsh scorched a 23.04 leadoff leg on UVA’s 200 medley relay in the very first event of the meet.

According to those at the meet, Walsh (along with most of the rest of the competitors) was not wearing a tech suit, but despite that, Walsh moves to #2 all-time in the 50 yard backstroke, behind only Michigan’s Maggie MacNeil.


  1. Maggie MacNeil23.02
  2. Gretchen Walsh 23.04
  3. Katharine Berkoff –23.27
  4. Rhyan White – 23.35
  5. Rachel Bootsma – 23.36

With today’s swim, Walsh leapfrogs NC State’s Katharine Berkoff to move to #2 all-time in the event. MacNeil represents Canada internationally, so Walsh is now the fastest American ever in the event, although USA Swimming doesn’t formally recognize American records in the 50 yard non-free events.

We’ll do a full meet recap later, but we’ll also note for now that UVA went 1:33.74 in today’s 200 medley relay. That’s the fastest time in the NCAA this season, with the previous best being the Cavaliers’ own 1:34.16 from the Tennessee Invitational back in November.

That time is actually faster than UVA went at 2021 NCAAs, when they finished 2nd to NC State, 1:33.18 to 1:34.13, but its still about a second shy of the overall record of 1:32.93 that the Cavaliers set at last year’s ACC championships. Walsh is part of the key difference there, as her leadoff time today was a full second faster than the 24.13 UVA got from Caroline Gmelich at NCAAs.

Additionally, Walsh clocked a 50.61 in the 100 backstroke today, improving her season and lifetime best from the 50.89 she went leading off UVA’s 400 medley relay at the Virginia vs. Texas dual meet back in October.

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Bobo Gigi
3 months ago

That’s crazy impressive. But I hope she will focus on the 100 free for 2024. US women’s swimming doesn’t need another great backstroker. But they badly need great sprinters for the 4X100 free relay.

3 months ago

Link to full results

Gretchen is queen
3 months ago

Oh how I wish the 50 strokes were included in a general format with USA swimming. There would be so much more inclusion!

Team Regan Team Regan
3 months ago

Just out of curiosity, is there a back-up option in case the worlds do not happen? Possibly USA incorporated into Commonwealth Games or Euros? Maybe as a last resort option, they could plan an 8 day trials format meet (following worlds format), and top 6 in each event get national team spot.

3 months ago

Why would you race without your swimwear?

Reply to  zhenia
3 months ago

Um do you think unsuited means naked or something?

TeamRegan TeamRegan
3 months ago

I think she has a huge chance in making the worlds team in the 50 Back! They take the winner in the 50 at trials, and the winner in the 100. So it could very well be Gretchen Walsh and Regan Smith on that team in the event!

Reply to  TeamRegan TeamRegan
3 months ago

While that would be awesome for her, I hope she still really focuses on her 100 Freestyle LCM potential as well. We need it for the relay badly.

Reply to  TeamRegan TeamRegan
3 months ago

You make a very good point, but we’re not even sure when the next Worlds will be.

Last edited 3 months ago by Coach
TeamRegan TeamRegan
Reply to  Coach
3 months ago

I think it’s really just speculation. Lots of countries are hitting their peak with covid around now, and I think we will have a worlds (and if not, we will have some sort of huge event either nationally or internationally). Also most swimmers are vaccinated at this point, so I wouldn’t say it is a huge concern

Reply to  TeamRegan TeamRegan
3 months ago

It’s not just speculation.

While FINA has left itself room to change their mind by not announcing it publicly, we have spoken to many people at many national federations that have been told by FINA that there will not be a long course World Championship meet in 2022.

Team Regan Team Regan
Reply to  Braden Keith
3 months ago

Really trying to stay positive here

Reply to  TeamRegan TeamRegan
3 months ago

Baker, smoligia, white and curzan are all really good as well…

3 months ago

UVA women are amazing! UVA men… not so much. For all he promotes himself with his own hashtag #thedesorboeffect, the men’s program can’t compete. NC State moved to exhibition against them…

3 months ago

Wow an unsuited American record! That’s mad especially for a freshman. I haven’t processed that yet