LIVE RECAP: Sean Conway Breaks UVA Pool Record in Season-Opening Intrasquad

Braden Keith
by Braden Keith 10

September 25th, 2020 ACC, College, News

University of Virginia 2020 Season-Opening Intrasquad

For the first time in history, SwimSwam is live-recapping an intrasquad meet.

You read that right.

We’re so desperate for high-level swimming in the US amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, that we’re going full live-recap for tonight’s University of Virginia intrasquad season opener.

With no live results for the meet, we’re hoping this can serve as your link to what’s happening, especially with the Virginia women – who enter the season as favorites to win the NCAA Championship (if there is an NCAA Championship).

We’ll do our best to post results throughout the session, with recaps of the highlight swims below.

The meet is being broken up into 3 sessions by “days” of the NCAA Championship meet, with no relays.

Note that the teams are wearing racing suits for the event, though they’ve only officially been back in training on campus for a few weeks.

Paige Madden Swims 4:39 in the 500 Free

Virginia senior Paige Madden swam a 4:39.20 in the 500 free. It was swum as a mixed-gender race, with both boys and girls in the pool together (the top boy finisher was Jack Walker in 4:27.53).

Madden ranked 2nd in the NCAA last season in the 500 free in 4:34.64. The only swimmer faster than her, Arizona State’s Emma Nordin, is redshirting this season (along with the rest of her team).

Last season, Madden’s season-opening time at the Trojan Invite in early October was 4:38.67, so she’s no stranger to early-season speed.

Sean Conway Breaks Pool Record in the 200 IM

Rising Virginia sophomore Sean Conway kicked off the men’s side of the meet with a 1:45.83 in the 200 yard IM. That broke the old record of 1:46.58 set by Pat Mellors in 2008. Mellors entered that season as the defending World University Games champion in the 400 IM.

Catie DeLoof Swims 22.18 in the 50 Yard Free

Catie DeLoof announced that she was joining the Virginia post-grad/pro group in early August, and early returns are positive. She swam a 22.18 in the 50 yard free on Friday evening. While she exhausted her NCAA eligibility in the spring of 2019, that’s the best “in-season” time she’s ever had, and only three-tenths slower than her lifetime best of 21.88 from the 2019 Big Ten Championships.

The Pool Record in that event is 22.13, set in 2018 by Caitlin Cooper.

DeLoof is registered to swim with the Tokyo Frog Kings this season in the ISL. The 2020 ISL season begins in 3 weeks in Budapest, Hungary.

Matthew Brownstead Shows His Rank in First Collegiate Swim

Most of the focus with Virginia, and rightly so, has been on their women’s team, which was seeded to score the most swimming points, by far, at the 2020 NCAA Championships, before that meet was canceled.

But the men brought in the top 50 freestyler in the freshman class nationally, and #6 recruit overall, in Matthew Brownstead.

He kicked off his ‘Hoos career on Friday with a 19.89 in the 50 yard freestyle. That’s the 4th-best time of his career, trailing the 19.24 that he swam at the 2020 Pennsylvania High School State Championship meet.

It also moves him quickly up the school’s all-time rankings: he’s now tied with Joe Clark for 10th all-time in program history.

If things go according to plan, that school record should be broken this year. The fastest swimmer in UVA history is Ryan Baker, who swam a 19.42 at the end of last season as a senior. Brownstead’s best time is already faster than that.

Session 1 Results

Session 2

Catie DeLoof Wins Again, Kate Douglass Swims First Race, Both Clear Pool Record

Catie DeLoof, the post-grad, won her 2nd event of the night with a 1:43.35 in the 200 yard freestyle. That’s eight-tenths of a second away from her best time of 1:42.55, which she swam at the 2019 Big Ten Championships.

In 2nd was Kate Douglass, one of the stars of the collegiate team, who made her season debut with a 1:44.51 for 2nd place. For the versatile Douglass, this was an event that she didn’t swim much of last season. The time is a new personal best, clearing the 1:45.16 that she did as a senior in high school at the Ithaca Sectionals.

Those times both broke the old Pool Record of 1:44.66 set by the aforementioned Paige Madden earlier this year.

Alex Walsh Wins 100 Breaststroke in Collegiate Debut

The top-ranked freshman who is actually going to swim the 2020-2021 collegiate season, Alex Walsh made her debut in the 100 breaststroke on Friday evening.

Following a familiar pattern, where last season’s top Cavalier freshman Kate Douglass swam a lot of breaststroke, the versatile Walsh won her first race in 59.85. That beat junior Alexis Wenger, who was last year’s ACC runner-up – she touched 2nd in 1:00.42. Another freshman, Anna Keating, placed 3rd in 1:01.66 – she has a best time of 59.04.

Walsh now ranks 5th in UVA school history in the 100 breaststroke.

Walsh is a supremely-versatile swimmer and a member of the US National Team – in the 200 back and 200 IM. Much like Douglass, who wound up as the fastest 200 IM’er in the NCAA last season, Walsh’s career could run in almost any direction.

Her younger sister Gretchen, a sprint freestyler, is committed to join the Cavaliers in the fall of 2021.

Keefer Barnum Opens Up with 53.00

Virginia senior Keefer Barnum, who last season broke the Virginia school record in the 100 breaststroke in 52.38, opened his 2020-2021 campaign with a 53.00.

Last year, at the early-October Trojan Invite, he swam a 53.07 to open the year.

After his record-breaking 200 IM earlier in the meet, Sean Conway swam 54.82 in the 100 breaststroke for 2nd place. That improved his previous best time of 55.13 that he set in high school.

Brownstead, after his 50 free earlier in the session, swam 57.49 in the 100 breaststroke. He’s been as fast as 55.5 in that event.

Caroline Gmelich Swims 52.68 in 100 Back

Virginia senior Caroline Gmelich swam a 52.68 in her best event, the 100 back, on Friday. She was the ACC runner-up in that event last season and ranked 19th in the NCAA overall.

That is easily her best time outside of a Championship meet or mid-season invite – last year she opened up the season with a 53.91 at the Trojan Invite.

Session 2 Results

Session 3

Jack Conger Breaks a Pool Record

Virginia’s other post-grad, Jack Conger, swam a 1:41.61 in the 200 yard fly. Conger, who has been training in Charlottesville since 2018, swam a 1:41.78 at Virginia’s home pool in 2019. The previous record was a 1:43.76 done by Stefan Hirniak in 2008.

Conger is the Amercian and U.S. Open Record holder in the 200 yard fly. His 1:37.35 done at the 2017 NCAA Championships is the fastest time ever done in that event.

Conger is not listed on an ISL roster for the 2020 season, though he swam for the LA Current last year.

100 Fly – Part 2?

The meet went off-script with a second round of 100 yard butterflies in the 3rd session of the day.

In that race, the freshman Alex Walsh picked up another win, swimming a 52.1. Her best time in that event is 51.31.

The swim pushes Walsh into 8th place all-time in program history. The top 3 performers in school history all did their best times last season: rising sophomore Kate Douglass (50.30), now-graduated Morgan Hill (51.12), and rising sophomore Lexi Cuomo (51.51).

The Fastest Ever

Virginia sophomore Kate Douglass is now the fastest female swimmer ever in the 100 yard IM.

Her time of 52.48 on Saturday makes her the first known woman to ever go under 53 seconds in the event. The previous best time was done by US Olympian and Olympic medalist Katie Meili at the 2014 OKC Pro-Am Classic, where she swam 53.02.

While not a common race in the U.S. the event is an official NCAA race, though not an NCAA Championship event yet. World Championships are awarded in the 100 IM in short course meters as well.

The highest-profile championship meet that usually offers a 100 yard IM is the NCSA Junior National Championships.

Neither the NCAA nor USA Swimming has published an official record in that race.

Fastest Times in the USA Swimming Database:

  1. Katie Meili – 53.02
  2. Karlee Bispo – 53.82
  3. Alia Atkinson – 54.01
  4. Torri Huske – 54.20
  5. Phoebe Bacon – 54.34
  6. Isabelle Stadden – 54.43
  7. Madison Myers – 54.50
  8. Whitney Myers – 54.53
  9. Rachel Bootsma – 54.62
  10. Tatum Wade – 54.75

Sean Conway also swam that 100 IM in a 49.39.

Session 3 Results

In This Story

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2 years ago

Where’s Emma Weyant at? Also, what did they do to Sophie Skinner? She was quite the swimmer out of HS.

2 years ago

Excited for tomorrow
NOTE: comment on the livestream says tomorrow will start at 3pm ET not 5

Last edited 2 years ago by swimfan210_
Terry Watts
2 years ago

Yeah, but how many of them can eat 6 Gusburgers in 6 minutes???

Reply to  Terry Watts
2 years ago

Probably quite a few of them…

Reply to  Terry Watts
2 years ago

Watts likely negative split those Gus Burgers.

2 years ago

Wow Kate Douglass with that 52.48 100 IM! Unofficially fastest all time.

Reply to  swimfan210_
2 years ago

I year ago at the UVA intrasquad, Kate went 53.39. So, it’s a .91 drop in a year. Would have loved to have seen Alex Walsh swim next to her – maybe next year’s intrasquad.

2 years ago

Nice to see they got the meet up and running again after Conway did that to the facility.. must have been some swim.

2 years ago

Nations Capital has an amazing legacy of swimmers and they keep coming!

GA Boy
2 years ago


About Braden Keith

Braden Keith

Braden Keith is the Editor-in-Chief and a co-founder/co-owner of He first got his feet wet by building The Swimmers' Circle beginning in January 2010, and now comes to SwimSwam to use that experience and help build a new leader in the sport of swimming. Aside from his life on the InterWet, …

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