Walsh, Berkoff Establish Best Times At Day 2 Prelims of Mel Zajac


Both the U.S. and Canadian junior national teams competing at the Mel Zajac Jr. International meet in Vancouver saw a ton of success on day 1, with plenty of best times and some top ranked swims, and they continued the momentum into day 2.

Highlighting the action Saturday morning was 15-year-old Gretchen Walsh and 17-year-old Katharine Berkoff, both of the U.S. team, who established new personal bests to take the top spot in their respective events heading into finals.

Walsh blasted a 25.46 in the 50 free, lowering her PB of 25.57 from the 2017 U.S. Open and moving her into 10th among Americans for the year. Sarah Fournier (25.85) of Equipe Quebec was the only other swimmer sub-26, while Penny Oleksiak (26.87) missed the A-final in 11th. She did the same thing yesterday in the 200 free, and ended up swimming faster in the B-final than the A-final winner.

Berkoff, who had a pair of personal bests on Friday in the 200 back, went 28.38 in the 50 to bring her PB down nearly three tenths from the 28.66 she did at 2017 World Trials. Isabelle Stadden, who won the 200 last night in an impressive 2:08.37, went 28.62 for the 2nd seed.

Caeleb Dressel, who had his best long course swims of the season last night, easily qualified into the A-final of the men’s 100 fly and 50 free. In his first LC 100 fly since coming within .04 of the world record last summer, the reigning world champ cruised to a time of 54.28, qualifying 2nd behind U.S. junior Gianluca Urlando. Urlando broke 54 for the first time in 53.43, while Canadian Josiah Binnema was next up in 54.85. Maxime Rooney (55.16) and Ryan Lochte (55.61) also made it through to the 10-person A-final, while Mark Szaranek ended up back in 27th in 58.03.

Dressel then went 23.28 in the 50 free, four tenths better than he was at the Atlanta Classic prelims, qualifying 4th. Canadian speedster Yuri Kisil (22.80) and Sid Farber (22.93) were the only two sub-23, while Rooney also made the final in 23.70.

Lochte, Urlando and Szaranek all made it through to the championship heat of the men’s 200 IM, led by U.S. junior Jake Foster (2:04.51). Lochte, swimming the event for the first time this season, was 2nd in 2:04.68. Foster also took the top seed in the men’s 200 breast in 2:17.90, well clear of 2nd Jaren LeFranc (2:21.57), who ran down Foster last night in the 100 breast.


  • Heidi Bradley (1:01.80) leads the way in the women’s 100 fly, with Walsh (1:02.05) and Oleksiak (1:02.59) making the A-final in 3rd and 4th respectively.
  • Mackenzie Padington, who had an impressive day 1, took the top seed in both the women’s 400 free (4:13.31) and 200 IM (2:17.13). Her 400 time was over three seconds under her season best from Canadian Nationals in April.
  • Colin Gilbert (3:57.40) and Alex Pratt (3:57.48) paced the men’s 400 free heats, with Americans Mikey Calvillo (3:58.16) and Mitch D’Arrigo (4:00.01) 3rd and 4th.
  • Last night’s 200 winner Markus Thormeyer led the men’s 50 back field in 26.62.
  • Rachel Nicol leads the women’s 200 breast in 2:30.63, just over a second off her season best from Austin.

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Mackenzie Padington is a bear!

Gator chomp

Lochte will be 1:58 or better tonight


Seen Lochte morning swim? 400IM is here bodys. He is nearly 34. Recovering is slow..


He wasn’t trying in the morning. Just enough to get in the final..

Gator chomp

Was he suited up? I assumed he was in a brief like most gators in prelims.


Correct. He swam this morning in a brief


Gretchen Walsh seriously has a chance of making the national team this summer. She split 54 in the relay last night and I’m sure she’s in hard training. She could be 24 mid and 54 low in July


Word is Berkoff’s coach told her she was tapering for the meet on the plane ride to Vancouver. USA youth squad looking crazy good.

Sum Ting Wong

Young kids with little muscle don’t really taper . They just tune up .

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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