Alex Walsh Blazes 1:51.95 200 IM at Cavalier Invitational; Top Time in Country

Alex Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Alex Walsh Swims 1:51.95 200 IM at Cavalier Invitational, Top Time in Country

Last March, Alex Walsh posted the fastest time ever in the 200-yard IM at the NCAA Women’s Championships in Atlanta, her time of 1:50.08 knocking almost six tenths off the previous record of 1:50.67 established by Ella Eastin four years earlier. Walsh’s record-breaking swim in Atlanta would be the first of three individual NCAA titles she won that weekend, and it set her on course to become the world’s top swimmer in the long course meters version of the event, a campaign that culminated with her dominant performance in the World Championship final.

Friday evening, Walsh swam her fastest yards performance in her signature event since March. The University of Virginia junior posted a time of 1:51.95 at the Cavalier Invitational, a meet which several Virginia swimmers are using as a test-run time trial in advance of the ACC Championships, set for Greensboro, N.C., and running February 14-18.

After skipping the 200 IM at the midseason Tennessee Invitational, Walsh uncorked a time of 1:51.95 to surpass teammate Kate Douglass atop the national rankings. Previously, Douglass went 1:52.07 at Virginia’s dual meet with Virginia Tech last month while Stanford’s Torri Huske is the top non-Cavalier in the country with her 1:53.37 from November.

Only 10 swimmers have history have beaten Walsh’s latest effort in the 200 IM, with Walsh, Douglass and Huske the only active college swimmers to ever record 1:51s. The time was the fourth-best of Walsh’s career behind the aforementioned American-record swim last March and a swims from 2021 at the ACC and NCAA Championships.

Walsh will be aiming to win a third consecutive national crown in this event this year, but it’s worth noting that Douglass, the Olympic bronze medalist in 2021 in the 200-meter IM, has never participated in the event at the NCAA Championships. She was entered in the 200 IM in 2020 before the meet was cancelled due to the initial COVID-19 surge, but over the past two seasons, Douglass has opted for the 50 freestyle at the national meet instead.

If Douglass did join Walsh in the medley race in March, Virginia would be heavily favored for a 1-2 finish, with both swimmers contending to break the vaunted 1:50-barrier for the first time.

In other events at the Cavalier Invite Friday, Virginia sophomore Reilly Tiltmann swam a 100 back time trial and posted a time of 50.90, which slides her into the No. 7 spot in the national rankings for this year. On the men’s side, Matt Brownstead of the Cavaliers swam a time of 19.24 in the 50 free.

Douglass did not race Friday, but she is entered in the 100 back Saturday as well as a 200 breaststroke time trial, while Alex’s younger sister Gretchen Walsh, the reigning NCAA champion in the 100 free, is entered in the 200 free.

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