Gretchen Walsh Proves What We Have Known All Along – ‘This is Where I’m Meant to Be’

Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Gretchen Walsh has been on this stage before – world-clas talent with something to prove.

But after heartbreaking finishes at the Olympic Trials, Walsh felt like she still had something to prove – and it was fueling her.

Of course, she is one of the world’s best swimmers, which she proved at the NCAA Championships the past two years, leading Virginia to dominating national titles.

But there is nothing that brings more joy, relief and proof than qualifying for the World Championships.

Walsh earned a spot in the 400 free relay on the first day of the U.S. National Championships in Indianapolis, then followed it up with a stunning American record in the 50 butterfly.

“I feel like this is where I am meant to be. This is my place. I punched my ticket to worlds (on the 400 free relay) and it gave me a breath of air. So I could chill with no pressure,” Gretchen Walsh said. “I didn’t expect to do that at all and I am just thrilled with the time. I just wanted to go out there and put up a good time, and I dropped more than I ever could have expected. That was awesome.”

She won the 50 fly in 25.11.

“It was so quick, I don’t even remember all of it. I don’t swim the 50 fly very often, but I was feeling good going into it,” she said. “I had a race strategy and tried to execute it – eight dolphin kicks, then 10 strokes before I breathed. And I only took one breath, then just hammered it to the finish.”

It was a statement to herself as much as the rest of the world.

“I feel like in NCAA season, an American record is awesome, and being on Virgnia, we get a lot of them with relays and stuff, and I got my first one in the 100 back this year. But long course, something is just different about it,” Gretchen Walsh said. ” I am just really proud of myself. I am happy to be swimming fast and really grateful for everyone who helped me a long the way. I am just glad to be having fun.”

That fun started in the 100 free, where Walsh earned a relay spot, helping take the pressure off.

“The 100 free is an event that I kind of struggle with the past couple years, so making the team was a big deal, and finally getting a best time – all of my confidence finally came to life. That really changed my whole outlook on everything. My biggest goal was to go best times, because if I do that I felt like I would make the team,” Gretchen Walsh said. “I was so nervous on the first day. I had to throw up all of my nerves because I was not OK.

“But once I made the A final, I knew I had a chance. I was just excited. It was ‘you can do this’ in finals. But I immediately felt relief.”

Now that the pressure is off, and the proof is there – there is no telling how fast Gretchen Walsh will be the rest of the week – and the rest of her career.

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