Gretchen Walsh Goes 48.26, Breaks 100 Back NCAA Record By Nearly Half A Second (VIDEO)


Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh performed nothing short of incredible in the women’s 100 back at the 2023 NCAA Championships, clocking a 48.26 to crush the NCAA, US Open, and American record by 0.48 seconds. She becomes the second woman in history to get under the 49-second barrier in this event, with the first being NC State’s Katharine Berkoff, who previously held the record at 48.74. Berkoff finished second to Walsh tonight in a time of 49.13, getting her two-year 100 back win streak at NCAAs snapped by the Virginia sophomore.

All-Time Top Performers, Women’s 100-Yard Back:

  1. Gretchen Walsh, Virginia — 48.26 (2023)
  2. Katharine Berkoff, NC State — 48.74 (2022)
  3. Regan Smith, Riptide — 49.16 (2021)
  4. Beata Nelson, Wisconsin — 49.18 (2019)
  5. Claire Curzan, TAC Titans — 49.52 (2022)

Walsh opened in a blazing fast 23.02 split, which would have made her the fourth-fastest 50 back performer in history had she not been the second-fastest ever at 22.62. She broke the NCAA record entirely because of this front half, as she opened 0.7 seconds faster than Berkoff’s swim but came home 0.22 seconds slower.

Comparative Splits:

Gretchen Walsh, 2023 NCAA Championships (new NCAA record) Katharine Berkoff, 2022 NCAA Championships (old NCAA record)
50y 23.02 23.72
100y 25.24 25.02
Total 48.25 48.74

Last year at the 2022 NCAA Championships, Berkoff had won this 100 back race in record-setting fashion, while Walsh was second in a time of 49.o0 that was then the second-fastest performance ever.

Race Video:

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2 days ago

Good swim for Gretchen, it was very elite. I still sometimes am baffled that we haven’t seen her on a single LC Senior Team since she broke out in 2019. I know she’s struggled in the LC 100 Free, but she went 53.8 at the end of summer in 2022, was 24.4 in the 50, and 57.4 in the 100 fly. She’s been swimming so fast in sprint free/back in SCY and I really can’t tell if we are gonna see her breakout in LC, or if she’s gonna fall into the same pattern as before and be this really good swimmer who doesn’t ever peak at the right tine

I believe in believe. And Gretchen.
Reply to  Eli
2 days ago

She’s going to break out in LC. And very soon. Maybe not WC team on the backstroke – US has so much depth, but probably a top 10 in the world time. And she’s ready for the 50 & 100 LC free. She’s swimming great freestyle on top of the water, too.

2 days ago

7 strokes on the last 25 and measured perfectly to the wall. Wow.

back in the saddle again
2 days ago

Holy! Gretchen Walsh’s stroke is so smooth and long in this race. Beautiful to watch. And she smoked it! Fastest in History! She and Kate Douglass are creating swimming history at these NCAAs!! 👍👍👍 Thank you swimswam for posting this video.

phelps swims 200 breast rio
2 days ago

Amazing. I clocked her underwater for roughly 28 seconds.

2 days ago

Is Gretchen the best all-around PURE sprinter we’ve seen?

Age of Winters
Reply to  Swimfan27
2 days ago

Can’t judge based solely on best times due to evolution of the sport.

2 days ago

I appreciate the irony of a berkoff being beaten by someone bc of better/longer underwaters

2 days ago

I know the 50 back is much less frequently swam then the 50 free, but opening in 23.02 has to be similar to opening a 100 free in like a 21.5ish right? I didn’t think it’d happen so soon but the 100 free is on record watch tomorrow for sure between her and Maggie

Reply to  jeff
2 days ago

I believe 23.02 is .25 slower than the fastest 50 back ever so I’d say it would be like opening the 100 free in cloer to 21.04.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
2 days ago

it’s half a second exactly (22.52 being the record) so that would put it at like 21.3 but I added a little more bc the 50 back is not as competitive as the 50 free

Reply to  jeff
2 days ago

Or KD on the relay leadoff

2 days ago

this trumps kate’s swim because technically butterfly is a faster stroke than backstroke. Kate was 48.4 and she was 48.2, which is more impressive. Gretchen also dropped .80 seconds from her PB. I really want to see her convert this speed to LCM.

Reply to  Chris
2 days ago

You won’t find too many SCY swimmers that spend the entire 60m UW convert that fast swimming to LCM. Hopefully she can but there’s a reason why she spends so much time UW rather than above water.

Coughlin, Crocker, and Shields all did but most do not.

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming through scoring countless dual meets, being a timer, and keeping track of her teammates' best times for three years as a team manager. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in …

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