Swimming & Diving: Gretchen Walsh has record-breaking day at ACC Championships

Courtesy UVA Media Relations

Photo: UVA Athletics

When Virginia swimmer Gretchen Walsh posted the fastest NCAA and American time in the 50 freestyle (20.77) during the morning preliminary swims at the ACC Championships, no one knew that was just the warm-up act.

During Wednesday night’s finals, Walsh toppled her own record with a winning time of 20.57. It was one of two gold medals she picked up on the day as UVA’s women took over the team lead in pursuit of their fifth consecutive ACC title.

Walsh was part of the Cavaliers’ 200 freestyle relay team that opened the night with another record setting performance. The group, which included Jasmine Nocentini, Alex Walsh and Maxine Parker, posted a time of 1:22.63 that established a new standard for the NCAA and US Open competition. During Walsh’s leg of the relay, she swam a slit of 19.95, becoming the first woman to ever break 20 seconds.

The relay win was the 22nd by Virginia in the last 23 contested at the ACC Championships and the sixth consecutive year a team from UVA has won the event.

Alex Walsh went on to take the gold medal in the 200 IM with a time of 1:51.76 while teammate Ella Nelson was the runner-up at 1:54.21

The other highlight for the Virginia women was a podium sweep of the 500 freestyle event. Cavan Gormsen took first (4:38.43) followed by teammates Aimee Canny (4:39.96) and Sophia Knapp (4:40.26).

On the men’s side, the Cavaliers used three podium finishes to move up to sixth place (249.5 points). NC State leads the men’s meet with 531.5 points.

UVA’s 200 free relay team of Matt Brownstead, Connor Boyle, Simon Lins and August Lamb took the bronze medal after turning in the third-best performance in school history with a time of 1:15.20. Brownstead later won an individual bronze in the 50 free with a time of 18.86 while swimming out of lane number eight in the finals. Tim Connery also captured bronze for UVA with his school-record time of 1:41.86 in the 200 individual medley. He had set the school record earlier in the prelims with a time of 1:42.00.

The ACC Championships run through Saturday. The Cavalier women enter the meet ranked No. 1 in the CSCAA poll. while the UVA men are No. 20.

Day 2 Women’s Highlights

  • Emma Weber swam a personal-best time of 1.58.42 in the prelims of the 200 IM
  • Jasmine Nocentini posted a personal best time of 21.13 in the 50 free
  • Ella Bathurst swam 1:57.54 to place sixth in the 200 IM
  • Parker finished seventh in the 50 free with a time of 21.81

Day 2 Men’s Highlights

  • Simon Lins posted a PB in the 50 free (19.76)
  • Sebastien Sergile was seventh in the 200 IM (1:43.96)
  • Matt Styczen tied his personal best in the 200 IM with a clocking of 1:45.09


1. Virginia – 552
2. Louisville – 473.5
3. NC State – 418
4. Duke – 332
5. North Carolina – 328
6. Notre Dame – 274
7. Virginia Tech – 253.5
8. Florida State – 217
9. Pittsburgh – 183
10. Georgia Tech – 177
11. Miami – 162

1. NC State – 531.5
2. Notre Dame – 335.5
3. Louisville – 302
4. Virginia Tech – 298.5
5. Florida State – 292
6. Virginia – 249.5
7. Georgia Tech – 235
8. North Carolina – 223
9. Pittsburgh – 193
10. Duke – 130
11. Miami – 54

Day 1: Tuesday

One of the fastest performances in the history of the sport highlighted Day 1 of the ACC Swimming and Diving Championships at the Greensboro Aquatic Center for Virginia. The UVA women, seeking their fifth consecutive league title, got off to a solid start with a pair of relay wins including the second fastest 800 free relay in history.

Virginia’s Gretchen Walsh, Alex Walsh, Aimee Canny and Ella Nelson had their sights set on the NCAA record of 6:45.91 set in 2017 and came close to eclipsing that mark with a time of 6:46.28. Gretchen Walsh’s leadoff leg of 1:40.23 set a UVA record for the 200 free and is the third fastest time ever for that distance. While the Cavaliers didn’t better the NCAA mark, their time set ACC, meet and pool records.

It was the second victory of the night for UVA women after the Hoos turned in the best performance in the 200 medley relay to open the night’s competition. The team of Reilly Tiltmann, Jasmine Nocentini, Carly Novelline and Maxine Parker took first place with a time of 1:33.84.

Day 1 Women’s Highlights

  • In the 3-meter diving, Elizabeth Kaye (9th, 280.50) and Maddy Grosz (19th, 246.70) earned points for Virginia.
  • UVA continues to dominate the relay competitions at the ACCs. It marks the 21st victory in the last 22 relays contested at the conference meet.
  • Virginia has now won 17 consecutive 800 free relays at the ACC Championships, a streak that dates back to the 2008 season.

Day 1 Men’s Highlights

  • The 200 medley relay squad (Matt Brownstead, Noah Nichols, Tim Connery, August Lamb) placed sixth – 1:23.46 with a season-best time.
  • The Cavaliers’ 800 free relay team (Sebastien Sergile, Hayden Bellotti, Sam O’Brien and Will Cole) posted the meet’s fifth-best time but were disqualified due to an early start by one of the team members during the race.
  • Oliver Mills picked up the men’s team’s first points with a 19th-place finish in the 1-meter diving competition.

Prelims and finals will be streamed live on ACCNX. Links for the live streams and live results each day will be available on VirginiaSports.com. The evening sessions will air on the ACC Network the next morning. Craig Minervini, Amy Van Dyker and Jason Baumann will call the action.

Each day finals will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Wednesday through Saturday prelims begin at 9:30 a.m.

Thursday: 400 IM, 100 fly, 200 free, men’s 3-meter
Friday: 200 fly, 100 back, 100 breaststroke, women’s platform, 400 medley relay
Saturday: 1650 free, 200 back, 100 free, 200 breaststroke, men’s platform, 400 free relay