Fan Friday: Lots Of Love For Gretchen Walsh, Debbie Ryan


While the ACC Championships run through Saturday, the Virginia women’s swimming and diving team already made waves in the pool in Greensboro. The Cavaliers led the team standings through Thursday night by 163.5 points and have put themselves in position for a fifth straight conference title as a result.

But that’s only part of the story. Junior Gretchen Walsh created a stir around the swimming world when she swam sub-20 on her leg of the 200 freestyle relay, becoming the first woman to ever break 20 seconds in a 50 yard free swim with a 19.95 time. That helped the relay quartet of Walsh, sister Alex Walsh, Jasmine Nocentini, and Maxine Parker set a NCAA and US Open record 1:23.63 in the event.

That relay swim came on the same day Gretchen Walsh set new NCAA and American record in the individual 50 freestyle too. She went 20.77 for the record in the preliminary swim in the morning and then bested that mark in the final Wednesday night with a 20.57.

On Thursday, she switched strokes but got similar results. She established the NCAA, American and US Open record in the 100 butterfly with a time of 48.25. It was her fourth gold medal of the ACC Championships and the 13th in her career at UVA. That gave her her third NCAA and American record of the meet. (For more results and news from the event, check out

Social media has been buzzing about Walsh’s week. Especially when she said during an interview, that she didn’t even taper for the ACC Championships. Some phrases being thrown around: another level, a 4:00 1500m barrier moment, rewriting what’s possible, and absolutely unreal.

Speaking of Virginia, swimming news, and Kate Douglass … Walsh hasn’t been the only headline maker for the Wahoos in the pool.

At the 2024 World Aquatics Championships in Qatar a few days earlier, Douglass set an American record in the 50 meter freestyle when she won silver in 23.91 to break Simone Manuel’s record. Douglass became just the second American woman to break the 24-second barrier in the event. She won gold in the 200 IM and the mixed 4×100 medley relay too. She also claimed silver in the 200 breaststroke and bronze in the mixed 4×100 freestyle relay.

Claire Curzan, who transferred to Virginia but did not swim for the program this year to focus on the World Championships and Olympics, was named the Best Female Swimmer for the 2024 world meet. She won six total medals at the World Championships. That included gold in all three backstroke events, making her just the third swimmer (and second female) in World Championships history to sweep the 50, 100, and 200 distances in a single stroke. She won gold in the mixed 4×100 medley relay too. Curzan took silver in the 100 fly and bronze in the mixed 4×100 freestyle.

In one other bit of news, NBC has tabbed alum Melissa Stark to be the poolside reporter for the Olympics in Paris. She’ll likely see some fellow Hoos there.

With that, let’s look at the weekly fan selections.

Fan(s) Of The Week

Hoo loves Debbie Ryan? Wahoos do.

Virginia Cavaliers

Student Fan(s) Of The Week

Smile if you love the Hoos.

Virginia Cavaliers

Feature Photo Of The Week

Virginia honored legendary coach Debbie Ryan at a women’s basketball game where speed painter Jessica Haas surprised her with this painting.

Virginia Cavaliers