SwimSwam Pulse: 54.2% Think Gretchen Walsh Should Swim 100 Fly At NCAAs

SwimSwam Pulse is a recurring feature tracking and analyzing the results of our periodic A3 Performance Polls. You can cast your vote in our newest poll on the SwimSwam homepage, about halfway down the page on the right side.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers what event Gretchen Walsh should swim at NCAAs along with the 50 and 100 free:

Question: Which event should Gretchen Walsh swim at NCAAs?


  • 100 fly – 54.2%
  • 100 back – 28.4%
  • 200 free – 17.4%

In 2022-23, swimming fans were treated to arguably the greatest single-season performance in history for both men and women, as Leon Marchand and Kate Douglass made history seemingly every time they hit the water and culminated things with dominant NCAA Championship performances.

Incredibly, we might be seeing an even better campaign in 2023-24 from Gretchen Walsh, who has now lowered the NCAA and U.S. Open Record in four individual events this season.

At last week’s ACC Championships, Walsh reset the all-time record in the women’s 50 free (20.57), 100 free (45.16), 100 back (48.10) and 100 fly (48.25). On top of that, she produced a time of 1:40.23 leading off Virginia’s 800 free relay, which ranks #3 all-time.

Coming into the meet, she also held the fastest time in the country in the 200 IM (1:52.34), and still sat in 3rd at the end of last week’s conference meets.

All of this goes without mentioning what she’s been doing on relays, which was highlighted by her historic sub-20 split on UVA’s 200 free relay.

Given the way the NCAA schedule lays out, the 50 free and 100 free will surely be on her championship program later this month. The 100 back, 100 fly and 200 free all fall on Day 3 of the meet, which leads to our latest poll question: What should she swim?

The obvious answer is the 100 fly, which she’s put an increased focus on ever since winning the national title in the 100 back last season.

Walsh qualified for the U.S. World Championship team in the 100 fly with a time of 56.34 in the long course pool last summer, and went on to make the final in Fukuoka.

The decision to race the 100 back over the 100 fly at NCAAs during her first two seasons was likely made much easier by the presence of teammate Douglass, who won last season in a U.S. Open Record of 48.46 which Walsh took hold of for the first time (officially) last week.

With both Douglass and former NCAA Record holder Maggie MacNeil graduated, Walsh can take a run at her first 100 fly title with almost no chance of an upset—she’s a staggering two seconds faster than anyone else in the NCAA this season.

On top of being the fastest in the country by a landslide and having never raced it at NCAAs, the chances of Walsh doing the 100 fly are bolstered by the fact that she can put up times in the 100 back and 200 free on relay lead-offs at NCAAs if she wants, just like she did at ACCs.

More than half of readers, 54.2%, selected the 100 fly in the poll, with the 100 back coming in at 28.4% and the 200 free trailing at 17.4%.

If she raced the 100 back, it would be a trilogy match with NC State’s Katharine Berkoff, who topped Walsh in 2022 before Walsh got the victory last year. Berkoff set a PB of 48.70 at ACCs, putting her six-tenths back of Walsh.

It seems as though the 200 free won’t happen, but if it did, we would be treated to a great showdown between Walsh and Florida freshman Bella Sims, who ranks 2nd in the country with her time of 1:40.90 from SECs. Additionally, USC freshman Minna Abraham could pose a threat after going 1:41.38 at midseason invites (she’ll swim the final at Pac-12s on Friday).

It seems extremely likely Walsh ends up choosing the 100 fly, but there are fun storylines around all three events as she aims to cap off one of the greatest seasons we’ve ever seen with a bang.

Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks: Given what happened to Owen Lloyd at ACCs, how should controversial DQs be handled?

How do you think disqualifications should be handled?

View Results

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A3 Performance is an independently-owned, performance swimwear company built on a passion for swimming, athletes, and athletic performance. We encourage swimmers to swim better and faster at all ages and levels, from beginners to Olympians.  Driven by a genuine leader and devoted staff that are passionate about swimming and service, A3 Performance strives to inspire and enrich the sport of swimming with innovative and impactful products that motivate swimmers to be their very best – an A3 Performer.

The A3 Performance Poll is courtesy of A3 Performance, a SwimSwam partner.

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1 month ago

My hot take is that Alex Walsh should swim (and win) the 100 fly and Gretch takes the 100 back.

1 month ago

Bigger question is if UVA will try to get the 800 free relay record at NCs. If so, do they just forget about winning the 200 medley? At full strength, they also have a good chance at lowering their 200 medley record. It’s a toss up. The 200 free focus will be good for both Walsh sisters in the long run and that relay record is iconic. Hmmm.

1 month ago

If she swam the 100 fly and led off the medley, she could walk away with four individual American/NCAA records, which is pretty insane. She could break 48 in both strokes and 45 in the 100 freestyle. That would be pretty sick.

Y Swim
1 month ago

1 Fly all the way! Swim 1 back in 4 Medley Relay. This will give her an opportunity to crush both events.

I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

As a selfish Georgia fan I want her to swim the 2 free and beat Bella Sims (not that I don’t like Bella Sims, I love her, she’s just a Fl*rida G*tor)

Reply to  I miss the ISL (Go dawgs)
1 month ago

I’d guess Bella swims the 400 IM over the 200 free

1 month ago

I went with the 200 free because that one could actually turn into a great race between her, Abraham and Sims.
The rest is pretty much her against the clock.

About James Sutherland

James Sutherland

James swam five years at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, specializing in the 200 free, back and IM. He finished up his collegiate swimming career in 2018, graduating with a bachelor's degree in economics. In 2019 he completed his graduate degree in sports journalism. Prior to going to Laurentian, James swam …

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