Walsh sets 100m fly world record

She clocked 55.18 seconds at the  US Olympic swimming trials

Afp June 17, 2024


Gretchen Walsh shattered the 100m butterfly world record in the semi-finals at the US Olympic trials on Saturday where freestyle great Katie Ledecky punched her ticket to a fourth Olympics.

Walsh, coming off a record-setting collegiate season for the University of Virginia, clocked 55.18sec to eclipse the prevous record of 55.48sec set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjoestroem at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

The 21-year-old is trying to make her first Olympic team after winning medley relay gold along with freestyle relay silver and 50m fly bronze at the 2023 world championships in Fukuoka.

She electrified the crowd of more than 20,000 at Lucas Oil Arena, home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, in the first event of the opening finals session at the nine-day meeting -- where only the top two finishers in each event can qualify for the Paris Games.

American record-holder Torri Huske had made a run at Sjoestroem’s mark in the first semi-final, hitting 50m under world record pace before finishing in 55.79sec.

Walsh, who had never broken 56 seconds until she posted 55.94 in the heats on Saturday morning, then roared through the second semi-final, staring at the scoreboard in disbelief as the time flashed up.

“It’s such a surreal experience,” said Walsh, who emphatically shed her reputation as a short-course specialist. “I don’t know when I’m going to be thinking I just did that. I’m trying to convince myself that that just happened -- I’m just in awe.

“I’m ready for tomorrow night,” added Walsh, who will try to secure her place in the team for Paris in Sunday’s final when the field will also include Tokyo Olympic medallist Regan Smith, who was third-fastest in the semis in 55.92sec.

Meanwhile seven-time Olympic gold medallist Ledecky, who burst onto the international scene as a 15-year-old with her victory in the 800m free at the 2012 London Olympics, is Paris bound after winning the 400m freestyle in 3min 58.35sec. 


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