Gretchen Walsh, Virginia Teammates Sizzle in Sprints at Intrasquad

Gretchen Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Gretchen Walsh, Virginia Teammates Sizzle in Sprints at Intrasquad

In reality, the University of Virginia women will never have the quartet of Kate DouglassAlex Walsh, Gretchen Walsh and Claire Curzan all racing together at a collegiate championship meet. Douglass concluded her college career last year, forgoing a fifth year to focus on graduate school and training for the Olympic Trials, while Curzan will not race for the Cavaliers this year after her late transfer into the program.

But all four now train together in Charlottesville under Todd DeSorbo, recently named head coach of the U.S. women’s Olympic team, and his staff, so they were all in action as Virginia raced in an intrasquad meet Saturday morning, with the swimmers donning tech suits for a chance to post some quick early-season marks.

Gretchen Walsh, fresh off a summer when she made her senior-level international debut and helped the U.S. win a pair of relay medals in addition to her individual bronze in the 50 butterfly, was particularly impressive as she clocked 21.28 to edge out Douglass (21.38) in the 50 freestyle. Only two swimmers, Maggie Mac Neil and Walsh herself, beat that time all of last season, including at the NCAA Championships.

The younger Walsh sister also earned wins in the 50 backstroke (23.33, a meet record) and 50 butterfly (22.66), and she posted 50 free relay splits of 20.82 (on the mixed 200 medley relay) and 20.72 (on the mixed 200 free relay), although the latter relay was disqualified.

Douglass, meanwhile, recorded a 100 IM time believed to be the quickest ever, touching in 51.97. That obliterated the previous meet record of 52.73 she set last year. The 200-meter IM world champion also went 1:22.26 to win the 150 fly, and she added a 20.71 50 free relay split.

Alex Walsh placed second in that 100 IM (53.23), and she also won the 300 IM in 3:00.37, chopping a half-second off the meet record she set last year. Walsh was also the winner of the 150 breaststroke in 1:32.57, almost one second under her meet record from last year.

Curzan’s first unofficial action for Virginia included a 22.19 butterfly split that only one swimmer, graduated Cavalier Lexi Cuomo, surpassed on the 200 medley relay at last year’s NCAAs. Curzan then beat the meet record in the 150 free with a time of 1:14.76, and she was second in the 50 back (23.86). In the 150 back, last year’s NCAA champion in the 200-yard race went 1:20.39 for a meet record by almost two-and-a-half seconds. Curzan finished with a 21.36 free relay split.

Some of other women’s team additions made an impact, beginning with Cavan Gormsen winning the 600 free in 5:42.56, knocking more than a second off the meet record set by NCAA champion and Olympic medalist Paige Madden. Gormsen later won the 300 free in 2:46.43. In the 50 breast, graduate student Jasmine Nocentini swam a time of 26.88, also a record, as she won by eight tenths.

On the men’s side, Jack Aikins tied a meet record as he clocked 1:08.95 in the 150 free while Matt Brownstead (coincidentally, the man whose 150 free record was tied) lowered the 50 back mark to 21.66. Brownstead later won the 50 free in 19.90 while Aikins dominated the 150 back at 1:14.33. Kamal Muhammad blasted a mark of 1:15.65 in the 150 fly. Noah Nichols swam a meet record of 1:23.73 in the 200 breast while also winning the 50 breast (24.48) and 100 IM, overtaking Aikins to win by eight hundredths, 48.83 to 48.91.

Virginia swimmers also hit meet records in the mixed relays, with the Fourth-Years team of Brownstead, Nichols, Alex Walsh and Parker clocking 1:30.27 in the 200 medley and Connor BoyleJack Madoch, Curzan and Douglass hitting a mark of 1:22.26 in the 200 free relay.


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