Gretchen Walsh Rips New NCAA, American Records in the SCY 50 Free with 20.77 in Prelims

by Spencer Penland 11

February 21st, 2024 ACC, College, News



‘A’ Final Qualifiers:

  1. Gretchen Walsh (Virginia), 20.77
  2. Jasmine Nocentini (Virginia), 21.30
  3. Katharine Berkoff (NC State), 21.38
  4. Christiana Regenauer (Louisville), 21.56
  5. Gabi Albiero (Louisville), 21.61
  6. Julia Dennis (Louisville), 21.68
  7. Maxine Parker (Virginia), 21.81
  8. Sophie Yendell (Pitt), 21.90

Virginia superstar Gretchen Walsh didn’t waste an opportunity to put up a blazing swim this morning at the ACC Championships. Walsh blasted a 20.77 50 free in prelims this morning, breaking every record on the books. Firstly, Walsh took down her own ACC Championship Record of 20.83, which she set at last year’s meet. She also broke the NCAA Record of 20.79, which Walsh shared with Maggie MacNeil. Her 20.79 also stood as the American Record in the event, so Walsh has reset that standard as well.

Here is the list of all-time top 5 performances in the women’s SCY 50 free:

  1. Gretchen Walsh, Virginia – 20.77 (2024)
  2. Gretchen Walsh, Virginia – 20.79 (2023)/Maggie MacNeil, LSU – 20.79 (2023)
  3. Gretchen Walsh, Virginia – 20.83 (2023)
  4. Kate Douglass, Virginia – 20.84 (2022)

With the performance, Walsh also becomes the first woman to go under 20.8 in the 50 free multiple times. For what it’s worth, this morning’s swim was also Walsh’s 8th time going under 21 seconds from a flat-start, which is the most of such swims by any women’s swimmer in history.

Of note, Walsh was also the last one off the blocks in her 50 free this morning. You could see it in the race, and the live results backed it up. Walsh had a reaction time of 0.75 seconds this morning, which was not only the slowest reaction time of anyone who made the ‘A’ final, it tied for the 3rd-slowest reaction time of the 55 women who raced the event this morning. For context, Louisville’s Gabi Albiero came in 5th with a 21.61 this morning and had a reaction time of 0.59, a whopping 0.16 seconds faster than Walsh.

Walsh’s swim this morning is also an exciting one as she’s been exceptional in her first two races of the meet. Last night, Walsh turned heads and defied what we thought possible when she led off Virginia’s 800 free relay in 1:40.23. That was a huge 200 free for her, but it was the way she swam it that was so noteworthy. Walsh took that 200 free out in 47.15 on the first 100, which is, frankly, opening speed in a 200 free that is hard to fully wrap my head around and  I personally never would have expected to see it from anyone.

Walsh will, of course, get at least one more chance to lower the record even further in finals tonight. If she ends up leading off the Virginia 200 free relay tonight, Walsh will have two more chances to better her time from this morning. If Walsh leads off the 200 free relay tonight, it also means she would have a shot at going under 21 seconds for the 10th time in her career.

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1 month ago

Gretchen Walsh is among the all-time best! Plus, reaction time is one of several ways to get even more out of Finals. Just as it stands, her Prelims results could have been written like this:

Gretchen Walsh. UVA. 20.77 #%$&!*qA

1 month ago

Why are we so concerned about her reaction time? She’s a head taller then everyone else. Clearly it takes some time to uncurl those long arms and legs… also she’s ahead at the 15 mark. So clearly that start is working for her to set up her under-waters. Kudos Gretchen!

Reply to  Bdubs
1 month ago

For a sprinter at her level, it was surprising to see that she was 8th in her heat for reaction time. I think it’s expected that she’d be off the blocks faster. But the time stands for itself and is incredible.

Reply to  OldNotDead
1 month ago

Heights seems to have some effect on the way reaction time is measured, I think that’s why Cate Campbell/GWalsh are always dead last and Bella Sims is always first

Pan Fan
Reply to  OldNotDead
1 month ago

You must not be familiar how Cate Campbell usually has 0.8 RT in her 24 low and 52 low swims. Tall swimmers get off the block fractionally slower than shorter swimmers.

RT is not everything.

Last edited 1 month ago by Pan Fan
1 month ago

Reminds me of Dressel in 2018 going 18.11 in prelims only to go 17.6 in finals. Don’t wanna set any crazy expectations, but could we see something crazy like that tonight?

Z Tech
Reply to  Carter
1 month ago

Crazy expectations she was breaking records unofficially mid season lol… the hype for exactly that is real

1 month ago

Super star!⭐️
5 women under the NCAA A cut in preliminaries.😅

1 month ago

She keeps chipping away, I want to see her work on her start and get under 20.5

gretchie baby
1 month ago


1 month ago

Would to see Maggie’s facial reaction…