SwimSwam Pulse: 62% Pick Walsh As Most Likely World Jrs Champ to Medal In Tokyo

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, or you can find the poll embedded at the bottom of this post.

Our most recent poll asked SwimSwam readers which girls World Junior champ is most likely to win some sort of medal at the 2020 Olympics:


Question: Which girls World Junior champ is most likely to win a 2020 Olympic medal?

A heavy majority of voters went with Gretchen Walsh as the most likely World Junior champ to medal at next summer’s Olympics.

Walsh seems like a smart bet. She has the best relay potential of any of the six winners in our poll. She ranked 4th (53.74) among all American women in the 100 free this past season, is dropping fast and only has to remain in the top 6 to earn a very likely 4×100 free relay medal next summer.

Australia’s Lani Pallister and Russia’s Eveniia Chikunova actually tied in this poll, both receiving 119 votes. They both may have better individual medal chances than Walsh, but worse chances on relays.

Pallister won the 400, 800 and 1500 frees at World Juniors, while taking silver in the 200 free. She finishes the season ranked #10 worldwide in the 400, #8 worldwide in the 800 and #11 worldwide in the 1500. She could be an outside contender for a relay spot in the 4×200 free (she ranked 7th among Australians last year), but has her work cut out for her with a career-best of 1:58.09 (Australia had two 1:54s, a 1:55 and a 1:56 on their relay at Worlds, without even using Shayna Jack, who may or may not be suspended through the Olympics).

Chikunova is extremely young (just 14 as of this summer) and ranked #3 in the world in the 200 breast. But the women’s 200 breast is a crowded event, with six women between 2:20.1 and 2:21.8 last year, so Chikunova will need another good year for an individual medal. She’s not a likely relay medalist – she’d probably need to be the second-fastest Russian in the 100 breast, swim prelims and have the finals relay earn a medal, which would require a lot to go right for the Russian.

The last three finished way back in our poll. Torri Huske gets the American relay bump – even making the Olympic team puts her in great medal shape as a prelims relay swimmer. But one of Huske’s two individual golds from World Juniors is in a non-Olympic event (50 fly) and her other event (100 fly) ranks just 6th nationwide. On the other hand, she was second in the 100 free to Walsh, and could be a longshot for a relay spot there.

Canada’s Jade Hannah was the World Junior champ in the 100 and 200 back. She only ranks 18th and 19th, respectively, in the world in those events, so individual medals are a longshot. She’s third among Canadians in the 100 back and could be a prelims relay swimmer there. But the two ahead of her (Kylie Masse and Taylor Ruck) will be extremely hard to catch, and Canada is far from a guarantee to medal in the medley, despite winning bronze at Worlds this past summer.

Spain’s Alba Vazquez won the 400 IM and set a world junior record at World Juniors. However, she ranks just 17th in the world and has fairly low relay medal potential.


Below, vote in our new A3 Performance Pollwhich asks voters how Olympic medalist Elizabeth Beisel will do on the 39th season of Survivor this fall:

How will Elizabeth Beisel do on Survivor?

View Results

Loading ... Loading ...



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

In This Story

Leave a Reply

5 Comment threads
12 Thread replies
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
11 Comment authors
newest oldest most voted

Gretchen will be on the 400 free relay in Tokyo, I think she earns a spot in the 4 that swim the final. She has a real shot at that second individual 100 free spot as well.


She will struggle to win a medal in the individual.


I meant the 2nd American to qualify for Tokyo in the event not to win silver lol


that seems obvious ….but in 2 years time , she will be ready to contend for a medal


No doubt if she keeps improving, but in 2 years time, there will be lots of new contenders as some of the old guard will step out after Tokyo. Keep an eye out for Molly O’Callaghan, who is only 1 sec behind Walsh, finishing 4th at WJCs, but only 15 years old.


Qualify for the relay, yes. But I don’t see her jumping Commerford or Weitzel. But she’s the final piece to a gold medal 4×100 relay that the US has been missing.


Obvious because top 6 in 100 free at Trials will get some color medal on the relay at Olympics


If you just look at the 200 free rankings this year and you exclude Shayna Jack, Lani Pallister is #7 just outside of relay prelim swimmer contention but only 0.5s behind #6. I’ll be really surprised if she doesn’t drop enough time to get herself a prelim swim. I really hope she prioritises the 200 leading into Tokyo.


There wasn’t practically any progress this season at 200 distance.
No races at 100 at all this year. The best time from last year is 56.07
Her success at longer distances was definitely achieved not because of improvement of raw speed, like it was in case of Titmus.
Don’t see what your expectations of improvement of her sprinting abilities are based on.
Of course it doesn’t exclude the possibility of being #6 or better among Australian swimmers. It all depends on the level of competition and many other circumstances that can take place at Trials.


Her improvements came at the WJC in the 400, 800 & 1500. Her 200 effort was the last race she had, maybe, just maybe, if she had the 200 first you may have seen improvements.


Actually at the same age Pallister has the faster 100 PB at 55.70 (Titmus 56.45) and their 200 PBs at the same age are also very similar (Titmus 1:57.90, Pallister 1:58.09) in the 200 anyway and I suspect if the 200 wasn’t on the final day after a huge program she’d have dropped more time.

I’m not saying she’s likely to have the same progression as Titmus in the 200 but I’ll be surprised if she doesn’t earn herself a spot as a prelim swimmer for Tokyo. My comment wasn’t intended to hype into the next big thing.


All good points Troyy. I hope she makes it in 2020 . She can’t be on junior teams anymore . It’s excellent when swimmers progress up quickly from the junior to senior teams


Sure. What makes a fan to be the Fan is a hope and expectations. Let’s wish her to be that fast. 1sec improvement seems to be so doable. But it can be very deceiving like those 0.08 sec in Thorpe’s case.
Australian team needs support. They just got lucky this summer to beat American team and become a record holder. Should Americans be better trained with relay technique and Ledecky be just a little bit healthier the outcome will be quite different.
Don’t take any offense. That’s a fan’s opinion that also is based on a hope that everything will get back (as it’s supposed to be) next Olympic year. 😀


Lots of ifs there, but that is a fan’s outlook if…..

About Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson

Jared Anderson swam for nearly twenty years. Then, Jared Anderson stopped swimming and started writing about swimming. He's not sick of swimming yet. Swimming might be sick of him, though. Jared was a YMCA and high school swimmer in northern Minnesota, and spent his college years swimming breaststroke and occasionally pretending …

Read More »