Alex Walsh Passing on 400 IM at Trials to Focus on 200 IM, Breaststroke

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Alex Walsh Passing on 400 IM at Trials to Focus on 200 IM, Breaststroke

Virginia star Alex Walsh won’t swim the 400 individual medley at Olympic Trials to focus on breaststroke and the shorter IM.

Walsh will swim the 100 breast and 200 breast. The 400 IM is an event she has had success in, including finishing fourth at the 2023 World Championships in Fukuoka. But shortly after that swim, she and coach Todd DeSorbo charted a course that would move her away from the longer IM.

“Even though I was really proud of myself for trying a new event and dropping a lot of time, it’s really not my favorite event to swim,” Walsh said Wednesday on a conference call with media from Charlottesville. “It’s quite painful, and I just think I have a pretty good shot in the 200 breast. I’ve been improving a lot recently and want to go for it. Todd was saying the 400 IM it was kind of dulling the knife for my 200 IM, so I wanted to stay really speedy and sharp, still working on my endurance so that I can finish the race but prioritizing more of a speedier race.”

Walsh’s time in Fukuoka in 2023 (4:34.46) ranks 11th in the world since the beginning of 2023. She didn’t swim it at Olympic Trials in 2021, where she made the team in the 200 IM and ultimately took home a silver medal from Tokyo. Walsh won the 400 IM at NCAAs in the spring. The 400 IM final and 100 breast semifinals are on the same night in Indianapolis.

Emma Weyant and Hali Flickinger represented the U.S. in the 400 IM at the last Olympics, with Weyant getting bronze at Worlds in 2022. Katie Grimes won silver at Worlds in 2023.

Medal prospects are part of the collaborative process of narrowing down events that DeSorbo undertakes with swimmers like Walsh.

“To be one of the best two in the U.S., you’re probably one of the best two in the world, and that’s a whole different level than NCAAs,” he said. “I try to tell them to narrow things down a little more than they might usually and focus on events that not only can they maybe make the U.S. Olympic team but what’s their best potential to medal at the Olympics.”

The 400 IM field in Paris will be chasing Summer McIntosh, who lowered her world record to 4:24.38 last week.  The next fastest performer since the beginning of 2023 is Kaylee McKeown of Australia at 4:28.22. Grimes is third at 4:31.41. Besides a pair of 4:36s from Katie Ledecky, who is extremely unlikely to swim the event at Trials, the next fastest American since the start of 2023 is Leah Hayes at 4:36.84.

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Michael Gorvitz
Michael Gorvitz
27 days ago

Walsh has some chances in 200 br., less in 100 br. 200 IM is also tough with Tori Huske progressing quickly. But she is a fighter.

LGregor
LGregor
27 days ago

Why doesn’t she do the 200 fly? The easiest event to qualify in where times from 40 years ago would still be competitive.

Monty
Monty
26 days ago

Probably best 2 in the US equals best 2 in the world? Summer would like to have a word with you. Realistically many are skipping 400IM with good times because they are all racing for 2nd at best

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