Gretchen Walsh Posts 50.53 100 Fly, Becomes Fastest Woman Ever Unsuited

Yanyan Li
by Yanyan Li 15

October 22nd, 2022 ACC, College, National, News


Remember when we said that the women’s 100 fly at NCAAs would be a four-woman race between Claire Curzan, Torri Huske, Kate Douglass, and Maggie MacNeil? Well, we were wrong. Because Gretchen Walsh just dropped a 50.53 100 fly in a practice suit today, overtaking MacNeil’s mark of 50.84 to become the fastest woman ever unsuited in the event. In addition, she is also the second woman to crack the 51-second barrier unsuited, as MacNeil was the first two weeks ago.

Walsh’s time is a personal best by over a second, beating out her old mark of 51.73 from December 2020. It also would have been fast enough to place fourth at last year’s NCAA Championship meet.

Walsh vs. MacNeil, Comparative Splits:

Gretchen Walsh, UVA vs. Florida Maggie MacNeil, LSU vs. South Carolina
50m 23.43 23.81
100m 27.10 27.03
Total 50.53 50.84

If you look at the splits, most of Walsh’s advantage over MacNeil came on the front half of the race, where Walsh was 0.38 seconds faster. However, MacNeil’s back half was 0.07 seconds faster than Walsh’s. You can watch Walsh’s race video here:

Last year, Walsh didn’t even swim the 100 fly at NCAAs, instead opting to race the 50 free, 100 back, and 100 free. Her early season speed in the 100 fly begs us to ask: will she be switching from the 100 back to the 100 fly at NCAAs this year? From what it looks like now, racing the 100 back would give her a better chance at a national title and would be better for UVA-points wise, considering that she’s the second fastest performer of all time in that event whereas in the 100 fly she will have to race her teammate and American record holder Kate Douglass. However, so many things could change from right to championship season.

Walsh had arguably one of the greatest dual meet performances in recent history today, as in addition to her 100 fly swim, she also split a 21.91 in the 50 fly—the fastest ever. She also clocked a 21.40 in the 50 free to become the fastest performer of the 2022-23 season, and lead off the 400 free relay with 47.67 100 free.

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tea rex
1 year ago

And she breathed every stroke, from the look of it

1 year ago


Therese Rose
1 year ago

Unsuited? What does that mean?

Catherine Schmalzer
Reply to  Therese Rose
1 year ago

In a practice suit, rather than a tech suit.

1 year ago

Matter of time before someone pops a US Open record unsuited…

1 year ago

Insane swims. How much does Walsh generally drop w a suit on?

Reply to  Swimmer
1 year ago

Last summer in the 100 back she went 59.9 unsuited in prelims and 1:00 suited in finals.

Negative Nora (they/them)
Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
1 year ago

I don’t think that’s the best example to use given how much she dropped during the SCY season last year from in-season (unsuited) to post-season (suited), as well as dropping time from prelims to finals fairly significantly in all her other races at Nationals last summer. Everyone has off-swims from time to time, and backstroke outside definitely increases the risk of having an off-swim – especially when you train indoors year-round. I think she has a far better swim in her in that 100m Back LCM.

Last edited 1 year ago by Negative Nora (they/them)
Reply to  Negative Nora (they/them)
1 year ago

You’re correct that my example was just one example, but overall she doesn’t drop very much when she suits up not does she drop very much from in season to NCAAs.

Reply to  ArtVanDeLegh10
1 year ago

Last year her best unsuited 100 back was 50.6 and she went 49.0 at NCs. If you want to use another example from the same summer nationals you referenced, in the 100 FR she was 54.77 unsuited to 53.86 suited.

There are other athletes that benefit more from just putting on a tech suit, but Gretchen gets a reasonable benefit from them. This is absolutely a sign that she is capable of a 48 high or 49 low 100 FL

1 year ago


Reply to  jeff
1 year ago

that’s all I have to say

Reply to  jeff
1 year ago

Drug test time.

Reply to  Elmer
1 year ago

It, literally, probably is.
Swimmers on the US National swim team have unannounced drug tests all the time. They are probably the least likely of all the swimmers to be able to get away with doping.

Little Mermaid
Reply to  Slime
1 year ago

They may also be consuming creatine which is legal and helps tremendously!

About Yanyan Li

Yanyan Li

Although Yanyan wasn't the greatest competitive swimmer, she learned more about the sport of swimming by being her high school swim team's manager for four years. She eventually ventured into the realm of writing and joined SwimSwam in January 2022, where she hopes to contribute to and learn more about …

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