Alex Walsh Swims ‘Fearlessly’ to Make Worlds, Join Sister For First Senior International Meet Together

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

When Alex Walsh made the world championships team, there was plenty to celebrate.

She qualified in a new event, and it was the first time she and her sister qualified for worlds together.

But when it was time to stand on the podium with her silver medal and bask in all of that joy, she was nowhere to be found.

Walsh gave so much in her 400 IM that she was sick, unable to be out there.

“I am pretty stoked to be going to Japan,” Alex Walsh said. “I know some people were wondering where I was (for the medal ceremony), but I unfortunately was really sick after. It happens sometimes. The long strokes get to me and I am prone to lactic acid buildups, but this has been happening to me since I was 12. I am pretty used to it, but I was bummed I missed the medal ceremony.”

She said it takes about 20 minutes to get back to normal with some fluids and calories.

It was a huge performance, and this meet has been a big step for her sister, Gretchen Walsh, too, who has qualified for her first world championships in multiple events.

“Being able to go with her, I am really excited for that,” Alex Walsh said. “The taper gives us a lot of confidence, but once you have that good race you swim fearlessly after that. We have seen her do that. She is on another level than I have ever seen before. She is my rock. The only time we have gone to an international meet together was junior Pan Pacs, so never a senior national meet. This is our first one.”

Alex Walsh was the Olympic silver medalist in the 200 IM, but the 400 IM was a new experience on on the nation’s biggest stage.

“Taking on a new event at worlds is a little daunting, but I am really excited. This is a great step for me. I wanted to channel the first-time-ness and use it as a way to motivate myself, but also not put too much pressure on myself,” she said. “I knew I was in store for a pretty big drop because I had some good short-course 400 IMs, and I knew it was going to be a great race. I am really happy with the outcome, and 4:35 is right where I wanted to be.”

That stemmed from a strong race plan.

“I have really tried to focus on easy speed in my butterfly. I knew I was going to be out with Katie (Grimes) and the backstroke, I wanted to stay with her,” she said. “My breaststroke has been feeling really good. I just wanted to get a lead on the breaststroke. The freestyle is definitely the most painful part. I just wanted to qualify and ended up making it top two.”

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