Walsh Sisters Post More Strong Swims at NCAP Elite Qualifier

Gretchen Walsh -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Walsh Sisters Post More Strong Swims at NCAP Elite Qualifier

For the second consecutive day, University of Virginia stars and sisters Gretchen Walsh and Alex Walsh each notched wins at the NCAP Elite Qualifier. Gretchen, fresh off her first-ever 56-second 100 butterfly (which moved her to fourth in the world rankings), captured a pair of 50-meter wins while Alex topped the 200 breaststroke.

Gretchen Walsh won the 50 freestyle in 24.52, improving to ninth in the world this year. Abbey Weitzeil is the only American with a faster time at 24.40. Walsh owns a lifetime best of 24.47, and interestingly, this swim matched the time that Erika Brown swam at last year’s International Team Trials to deny Walsh a spot on the World Championships team by one hundredth.

Later on in the session, the younger of the Walsh siblings added a 50 fly win in 25.97 while Alex raced the 200 breaststroke and emerged on top with a time of 2:25.25, knocking a quarter-second off her best time. Both are slated to race in one of their respective main events Sunday, with Gretchen entered in the 100 free and Walsh set for the 200 IM, a race where she is reigning world champion and Olympic silver medalist. Later this month, Alex will be looking for a return trip to the World Championships while Gretchen hopes to qualify for a major international competition for the first time.

It was also a strong night for 16-year-old Thomas Heilman, who picked up wins in the 200 fly (1:57.81) and 50 free (23.06). Heilman will be a longshot to qualify for the U.S. team bound for Fukuoka, Japan, and the World Championships, but he stands a strong chance to qualify for an A-final at a selection meet for the first time, one year after he was a B-finalist in all three butterfly distances at the U.S. International Team Trials.