Virginia women’s swimming continues to have an incredible year as Alex Walsh and Paige Madden have officially made the 2021 Olympic team, with teammate Kate Douglass expected to join them in Tokyo next month. The Hoos won the program’s — and ACC’s — first ever National Championship in swimming back in March, and now several of the standouts from the team are making huge strides (or strokes, in this case) towards achieving bigger goals.
Madden finished third in the 200m freestyle race, guaranteeing her a spot in the 4x200 relay race. She completed the 200m with a time of 1:56.80, just one-hundredth of a second behind Allison Schmitt in second place. American superstar Katie Ledecky finished first. There’s a chance Madden could also participate in the 400m freestyle event after finishing second in trials.
But it was the thrilling 200m individual medley that had everyone buzzing. Virginia’s Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass were both participating in the event, and NBC Sports has already questioned if this was the best race of the entire Olympic trials.
Torri Huske got out to an early lead after the butterfly leg, with Douglass just behind her in second. Then it was Walsh’s time to shine across the middle 100m as she made up ground in the backstroke and breaststroke legs. Walsh moved into second after the first 100m of the race with Douglass in third, but as they headed out of the final turn and into the freestyle sprint to finish, Walsh was in first place. Madisyn Cox moved into second, with Douglass dropping down to third as the swimmers raced to the wall.
Douglass was nearly a body-length behind as it looked to be a two-woman race between Walsh and Cox, but she turned on the jets over the final 15m to out-touch Cox at the wall. Virginia finished with the top-two in the event, as Walsh, Douglass, and Cox finished within .04 seconds of each other.
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Incoming Wahoo Emma Weyant will also be making the trip to Tokyo after winning the 400m individual medley with a dramatic finish over the final 15 meters. Weyant was third down the stretch, but turned on the jets to finish with a time of 4:33.81, the fastest in the world in the event this year. “These were my first Trials, but I had goals in trying to place as high as I could,” Weyant said of the Olympic Trials. “I think this was about racing for me, and I get to race with the best, and that pushes me, so it’s been fun to get to race these amazing people.”
There are still some opportunities for Hoos to earn spots in events for this year’s Olympics as Douglass, Madden and Walsh will compete for the 100m freestyle, Anna Keating and Ella Nelson participate in the 200m breaststroke, and Sean Conway takes on the 200m backstroke and IM on Thursday.