U.S. Olympic Trials: Alex Walsh Just Ahead of Kate Douglass in Quiet 200 IM Prelims

Alex Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials: Alex Walsh Just Ahead of Kate Douglass in Quiet 200 IM Prelims

Entering the final few days of the U.S. Olympic Trials, the pressure is on for Alex Walsh. The 22-year-old has not yet qualified for the Paris team, so the shorter medley will be her final chance at qualification, although we should note that the 200 IM is Walsh’s best event. She won the world title in 2022 and took silver at both the 2021 Olympics and 2023 World Championships.

Walsh led the way in the prelims of the event, although none of the top contenders swam anywhere close to their personal-best times in the first round, opting to conserve their energy for future swims. In heat five of the event, Walsh edged ahead of Beata Nelson on the breaststroke leg and held the former Wisconsin Badgers at bay down the freestyle leg, coming into the wall at 2:11.62.

Walsh had chance to qualify for Paris earlier this week in the 400 IM and 200 freestyle (as a relay swimmer), but she opted months beforehand to focus on the 200 breaststroke and 200 IM, while using the 100 breast as a warm-up event. She did post best times in both those breaststroke events earlier this meet, doing well just to qualify for the 100-meter final and then finishing third in the 200 Thursday night. Walsh swam in second place for much of that race, only for Lilly King to make a huge final-lap comeback and force Walsh to wait at least two more days for her next Olympic shot.

That held up as the top qualifying time after the final heat when Kate Douglass, another University of Virginia Cavalier, came in at 2:11.80. The other swimmer to break 2:12 in the morning was Isabel Ivey, who edged out Torri Huske in the final heat with her time of 2:11.89. Nelson was fourth in 2:12.30, just ahead of Leah Hayes (2:12.52) and Huske (2:12.66). Huske is already part of the U.S. team heading for Paris in the 100 butterfly and 100 freestyle while Douglass has won the 100 free (ahead of Huske) and 200 breast.

Zoe Dixon was one hundredth back of Huske (2:12.67) while Lilla Bognar swam a huge best time of 2:12.83 to qualify for her third evening swim of the meet. Then there was a big gap back to Zoie Hartmann (2:14.10), Kelly Pash (2:14.13), Abby Harter (2:14.17) and Lucy Bell (2:14.21). The remaining semifinalists were Campbell Chase (2:14.55, Camille Spink (2:14.68), Paige Maceachern (2:14.90) and Megan van Berkom (2:15.16).

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