Alex Walsh Swims 2:09.61 200 IM on Final Day of NCAP Elite Qualifier

Alex Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Alex Walsh Swims 2:09.61 200 IM on Final Day of NCAP Elite Qualifier

The reigning world champion in the women’s 200 individual medley raced the long course version of the event for the first time in almost a year Sunday, and Alex Walsh ended up with a sub-2:10 performance as she prepares for U.S. Nationals later this month.

Walsh won gold by almost one-and-a-half seconds at last year’s World Championships, her time of 2:07.13 making her the sixth-fastest performance in history. On the final evening of the NCAP Elite Qualifier in Stafford, Va., Walsh won the event in 2:09.61. In a sign of how fast the event has become this year, Walsh’s time is ranked 11th in the world this year, although it’s worth noting that the majority of swims ahead of her all came at national championship meets or qualification meets.

In the United States, only Regan Smith has been faster with her surprising 2:08.48 from this weekend’s Sun Devil OpenLeah Hayes, the World Championships bronze medalist last year, owns a season best of 2:10.03 while Kate Douglass, Walsh’s teammate at the University of Virginia and the Olympic bronze medalist, has yet to post an elite time after she demolished the fastest time in history in the 200-yard IM at the NCAA Championships. She did swim a 2:12.04 at last month’s Atlanta Classic.

In other events, Gretchen Walsh, Alex’s younger sister, recorded a mark of 54.02 to win the 100 freestyle. Walsh owns a lifetime best of 53.74, and she went as fast as 53.86 last year, but this in-season time would have been good enough to qualify for last year’s World Championships team as a member of the U.S. women’s 400 free relay. Erin Gemmell swam a time of 54.96 in prelims, but she opted to scratch the final. After an impressive weekend that included a 56.73 in the 100 butterfly and 24.52 50 free, the younger Walsh sister appears on track for Nationals later this month.

On the men’s side, Jack Aikins won the 200 backstroke in 1:58.04 after winning the 100 back Saturday in 54.37.