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Virginia swimmer Gretchen Walsh sets world record in 100-meter butterfly – Daily Press

INDIANAPOLIS – Gretchen Walsh set a world record in the women’s 100-meter butterfly Saturday evening with a time of 55.18 seconds in a semifinal of the U.S. Olympic swimming trials.

Walsh was more than half a second off the world record pace at the turn, surpassing Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström’s score of 55.48 at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

“I definitely felt it,” said Walsh, who considers herself a stronger swimmer in the short course pool. “I thought I was dying. I didn’t know I was going that fast and apparently I took it out too fast.”

Do not worry. Walsh held her left hand over her mouth as she looked in disbelief at the scoreboard, which had a “WR” next to her name.

“There’s been a bit of a fuss,” she said. “I think I’m going in tonight, like I knew it was going to take a (55) point-4, or I think point-5, but I didn’t think I was going to do it tonight. I just knew I wanted to set a fast time and now here I am: a world record holder.”

The 21-year-old Walsh, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, who plays for the Virginia Cavaliers, still has some work to do to claim a spot on her first Olympic team.

In the final Sunday evening she will compete against a strong field including Torri Huske, Regan Smith and Claire Curzan – all medalists from the Tokyo Games. Huske is from Yorktown High and Stanford in Northern Virginia.

But Walsh thinks she can go even faster.

“I still have room to grow in that race,” she said.

Two tidal swimmers from Virginia Beach with extensive college experience competed in the 100 butterfly preliminaries.

Callie Dickinson, a Georgia Bulldogs standout from Norfolk Academy, placed 29th in 59.47 seconds. Kellam High graduate Nikki Venema, who represented Princeton and will swim for Northwestern as a graduate student, placed 76th in 1:02.10. Neither advanced to the semi-finals.

In the 400 freestyle, 27-year-old Katie Ledecky finished two body lengths ahead of the field, hitting the wall in 3 minutes and 58.35 seconds. She improved her time of 3:59.99 in the morning preliminaries and prepared for a run for another gold against a loaded field at the Paris Games.

Ledecky will swim four events during the trials, all freestyle events ranging from 200 to 1,500 meters. She has already won six individual gold medals – more than any female swimmer in Olympic history.

Walsh’s UVA teammate Paige Madden was second in 4:02.08, putting her in good position to reach the Olympics.

The AP’s Michael Marot and Virginia Media staff contributed to this report.