Kate Douglass Clocks 51.97 100-Yard IM, Becomes First Woman Under 52 Seconds

Yanyan Li
by Yanyan Li 21

September 30th, 2023 College, National, News

UVA Blue vs. Orange Intrasquad

On Saturday at an intrasquad meet held by the University of Virginia, pro swimmer Kate Douglass clocked a time of 51.97 in the women’s 100-yard IM, winning her heat by over a second. With her time, she became the first woman to ever break 52 seconds in the 100 IM, beating out her UVA training partner Gretchen Walsh‘s old “fastest-ever” mark of 52.09 from the UVA-Texas dual meet last season.

In the same heat, Virginia senior Alex Walsh went 53.23, which is the eighth-fastest performance of all-time in the women’s 100 IM.

And before everyone starts asking—yes, everyone was suited for this race. Meanwhile, Walsh had been in a practice suit when she set the old 100 IM “record”.

Women’s 100 IM, Top Performances*:

  1. Kate Douglass — 51.97 (2023)
  2. Gretchen Walsh — 52.09 (2022)
  3. Kate Douglass — 52.48 (2020)
  4. Kate Douglass — 52.73 (2022)
  5. Kate Douglass — 53.01 (2022)
  6. Katie Meili — 53.02 (2014)
  7. Alex Walsh — 53.08 (2021)
  8. Alex Walsh — 53.23 (2023)
  9. Gretchen Walsh — 53.54 (2021)
  10. Alex Walsh — 53.73 (2022)

*verifying times for an event not typically raced at official meets is difficult, so if you know of a swim we missed, please let us know in the comments.

As shown in the list above, the list of fastest 100 IM performances is dominated by Virginia women, who account for nine of the 10 top times.

The 100 IM isn’t typically contested at major college meets such as conferences and NCAAs, but it is an official NCAA event. The biggest short course yards meet that offers the 100 IM is the NSCA Junior National Championships, although the short course meters edition of the race is part of the event program at both the FINA Short Course World Championships as well as the ISL. That being said, since Douglass is a pro swimmer who is not competing in the NCAA, her 51.97 does not count as an  NCAA record.

Here is the race video of Douglass’ swim, courtesy of the UVA Swimming YouTube channel:

Douglass finished her NCAA career this past March, where she put up arguably one of the greatest collegiate performances in history by winning three NCAA titles and breaking NCAA records in all of her individual events. She opted not to use her fifth year of eligibility, citing that she wanted to use the 2023-24 season to prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games and focus on long course. However, she will still be training with her old college team at Virginia. At the 2023 World Championships, she won her six medals, including individual gold in the 200 IM and silver in the 200 breast. She also split a 51.79 free anchoring Team USA’s mixed medley relay, clocking the fastest 100 free relay split ever by an American woman.

Although Douglass is done with NCAA swimming, she is still being recognized for her collegiate accolades. Two weeks ago, she was honored as a finalist for the AAU James E. Sullivan Award, which eventually was won by Iowa Women’s Basketball player Caitlin Clark.


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2 months ago

I need to see an article breaking down who’s dynasty was better, Stanford women or now Virginia!

Reply to  Chestertonliveson!
2 months ago

You really want to go there? Stanford in just its (recent) “dynasty” years had ten swimmers (DiRado, Eastin, Forde, Howe, Hu, Huske, Ledecky, Manuel, Neal, and Ruck) who combined for 73 NCAA titles, 18 Olympic medals, and more than 30 World Championahip medals just in the years during which they swam for Greg Meehan. Virginia would not fare any better in a tally of American, NCAA, NCAA Championship meet records, or All-America recognition obtained during the relevant years either.

Tea rex
2 months ago

For those curious, the giant next to Douglass is Zach Edey, Purdue basketball, 7’4”

Comfy Pants
2 months ago

absolutely incredible

David S
2 months ago

What does that equate in metres?

Reply to  David S
2 months ago

About 57.7 in SCM

2 months ago

Anyone know what the pre NCAA 1IM record was? Tracy Caulkins maybe?

Reply to  JimSwim22
2 months ago

Tracy swam the event at the 1982 NCAAs when it was an event. She won in 55.7 or 55.8 — I don’t think it was contested after the 1982 NCAA meet, but not easy to find the info online from events that long ago.

2 months ago

they really should have the 100 IM as an actual event

Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

Seems inexcusable that it isn’t!

Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

It would definitely be one of the most fun to watch events

2 months ago

The all-time performers list looks like a team record board…

2 months ago

Am I the only one a bit surprised the fastest 100 IM swam by a woman isn’t faster than this? I’m not casting stones, I’m just surprised it’s not closer to 50-point-something.

Maybe I’m just an idiot, but I’ve watched so many out of shape Masters swimmers go right around this time that I figured Douglass would smash a 50-point or sub-50 swim. 🤷

Wanna Sprite?
Reply to  Marmot
2 months ago

It’s always swum at the beginning of the season where the swimmers aren’t at their best and still getting a feel for racing. If it was done at the end I have no doubt Douglass and Gretchen could drop 50 lows

Reply to  Marmot
2 months ago

Yeah tbh I feel like a tapered swim from Douglass or Walsh could totally be in the sub 50 range? A 2:07.0 IM LCM feels about like a 2:04 high back/fly so at least based off that, an 100 IM time probably converts to about 1 second slower than back/fly or maybe a bit more.

Sub 50 feels a bit lofty but also a couple years ago, I would have never dreamed of 48.2 or 48.4 in back/fly

Last edited 2 months ago by jeff
Reply to  jeff
2 months ago

With a 1:48 2IM I think she would be in the 50.5 range or better, possibly under 50

Reply to  Marmot
2 months ago

This was swum in SEPTEMBER

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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