Alex Walsh Takes Dominant 200 IM Win in Individual NCAA Debut

alex-walsh
Photo Courtesy: NCAA Media

Despite taking a surprising second place to open the night to Cal in the 200 freestyle relay, Virginia seemed hardly deterred as Alex Walsh in her first ever individual race at the NCAA championships won the 200 IM in dominant fashion at 1:51.87. Walsh won ahead of a fairly young field with only two seniors as Georgia sophomore Zoie Hartman (1:53.34), who is making her NCAA debut in her second year of school finished in runner-up with Cal’s Alicia Wilson (1:54.51) in third place to keep her team in second place in the team standings.

Walsh seemed to get some pressure early in the race from Cal’s Wilson and Wisconsin freshman Phoebe Bacon as Walsh turned first at the 100 with a 52.3 to Bacon’s 52.6 and Wilson’s 52.9, but much like Paige Madden in the A-Final before, Walsh nailed the back half with a 32.5 on the third 50, with only Hartman out-splitting her at 32.3 on breaststroke. With that second lead at the 150, Walsh was able to have a victory lap on the last 50 with a 27.02 freestyle split, faster than anyone else in the field.

“My goal has always been to be 1:51-1:50, that American record,” Alex Walsh said after the race. “I think me and Kate Douglass are both looking at it. Coming to Virginia, I have been doing a lot more endurance-based training and I think that really showed. I am am grateful to being a part of such a great group of women who are pushing every day in practice. I knew I had the capability of splitting faster on by backstroke, so I was like. ‘I am going to send it in the first half and make it as fast as I could possibly make it … with the ability to still come home strong.”

Bacon ended up fourth at 1:54.55 in her NCAA individual debut as she will factor into the 100 and 200 back later on in the week. Virginia picked up big points with Ella Nelson in fifth at 1:54.74 with NC State’s Julia Poole just behind at 1:55.60. Texas’ Kelly Pash (1:55.72) and Ohio State’s Kristen Romano (1:56.07) also competed in the final.

This win by Alex Walsh is Virginia’s first ever NCAA title in the 200 IM and the first outside of a freestyle event as she is the first freshman to win an NCAA title in this event since Stanford’s Ella Eastin won in 2016. The time is still not a best time for Walsh who was a 1:51.5 earlier this season at ACCs to sit fifth on the all-time list.

 Event 4  Women 200 Yard IM
=========================================================================
         NCAA: N 1:50.67  3/15/2018 Ella Eastin, Stanford
         Meet: M 1:50.67  3/15/2018 Ella Eastin, Stanford
     American: A 1:50.67  3/15/2018 Ella Eastin, Stanford
      US Open: O 1:50.67  3/15/2018 Ella Eastin, Stanford
         Pool: P 1:51.36  2/20/2020 Kate Douglass, Virginia
    Name                 Year School            Prelims     Finals Points 
=========================================================================
                       === Championship Final ===                        
 
  1 Walsh, Alex            FR Virginia          1:54.62    1:51.87   20  
    r:+0.74  24.73        52.31 (27.58)
        1:24.85 (32.54)     1:51.87 (27.02)
  2 Hartman, Zoie          SO Georgia           1:55.03    1:53.34   17  
    r:+0.81  25.38        53.59 (28.21)
        1:25.92 (32.33)     1:53.34 (27.42)
  3 Wilson, Alicia         JR California        1:54.97    1:54.51   16  
    r:+0.67  24.37        52.94 (28.57)
        1:26.36 (33.42)     1:54.51 (28.15)
  4 Bacon, Phoebe          FR Wisconsin         1:55.58    1:54.55   15  
    r:+0.68  24.50        52.60 (28.10)
        1:27.16 (34.56)     1:54.55 (27.39)
  5 Nelson, Ella           SO Virginia          1:55.00    1:54.74   14  
    r:+0.67  25.45        54.56 (29.11)
        1:27.29 (32.73)     1:54.74 (27.45)
  6 Poole, Julia           SR NC State          1:55.70    1:55.60   13  
    r:+0.68  25.49        54.53 (29.04)
        1:27.64 (33.11)     1:55.60 (27.96)
  7 Pash, Kelly            SO Texas             1:55.55    1:55.72   12  
    r:+0.68  24.99        53.53 (28.54)
        1:27.96 (34.43)     1:55.72 (27.76)
  8 Romano, Kristen        SR Ohio St           1:56.12    1:56.07   11  
    r:+0.73  24.93        53.57 (28.64)
        1:27.86 (34.29)     1:56.07 (28.21)
 
                        === Consolation Final ===                        
 
  9 Hay, Abby              SO Louisville        1:56.53    1:56.02    9  
    r:+0.71  24.83        53.80 (28.97)
        1:27.52 (33.72)     1:56.02 (28.50)
 10 Pearl, Vanessa         JR Florida           1:56.47    1:56.30    7  
    r:+0.68  25.62        54.86 (29.24)
        1:28.30 (33.44)     1:56.30 (28.00)
 11 Poole, Lauren          SO Kentucky          1:57.11    1:56.75    6  
    r:+0.72  25.15        54.26 (29.11)
        1:28.27 (34.01)     1:56.75 (28.48)
 12 Sorenson, Sophie       JR Kentucky          1:57.13    1:57.00    5  
    r:+0.73  25.61        54.14 (28.53)
        1:29.41 (35.27)     1:57.00 (27.59)
 13 Golding, Kathleen      SO Florida           1:56.91    1:57.36    4  
    r:+0.68  25.31        54.52 (29.21)
        1:29.25 (34.73)     1:57.36 (28.11)
 14 Watson, Sarah          JR Akron             1:56.85    1:57.43    3  
    r:+0.67  24.49        55.40 (30.91)
        1:29.35 (33.95)     1:57.43 (28.08)
 15 Yager, Alexis          SR Tennessee         1:56.73    1:57.65    2  
    r:+0.72  25.62        55.41 (29.79)
        1:29.09 (33.68)     1:57.65 (28.56)
 16 Sacha, Ioanna          SR Houston           1:56.79    1:57.92    1  
    r:+0.73  26.12        54.88 (28.76)
        1:29.33 (34.45)     1:57.92 (28.59)
Women - Team Rankings - Through Event 4                 
 
  1. Virginia                          130 
  2. California                        107
  3. Ohio St                            75 
  4. Texas                              73
  5. Georgia                            68 
  6. Alabama                            59
  7. NC State                           58 
  7. Stanford                           58
  9. Kentucky                           45 
 10. Florida                            43
 11. Louisville                         33 
 12. Michigan                           31
 13. Missouri                           30 
 14. UNC                                24
 15. Tennessee                          23 
 15. Wisconsin                          23
 17. Indiana                            12 
 18. Virginia Tech                      11
 19. Texas A&M                          10 
 20. Northwestern                        6
 21. Southern California                 4 
 22. Nebraska                            3
 22. Akron                               3 
 24. Houston                             1