NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Alex and Gretchen Walsh are hoping to turn their Olympic dreams into reality.
This month, the sisters will compete in the U.S. trials to try to earn spots on the 26-member women’s Olympic swim team.
“I’m excited to get there and see how we both do,” said Gretchen Walsh.
That excitement has had an extra year to build.
Like every other Olympic hopeful, Gretchen and Alex Walsh put their dreams on hold when the COVID pandemic postponed the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo until this year.
The Walsh sisters said they used the delay to their advantage.
“This year, a lot of endurance work,” said Alex Walsh. “The training has really helped and will pay off at the trials.”
“I’ve grown so much, more weights and more athletic,” said Gretchen Walsh. “I have a much better chance of making it.”
How good are the Walshes?
Gretchen Walsh, a senior at Harpeth Hall, won state titles in four different events. She already owned national high school records for the 50 and 100 freestyle.
Alex Walsh, a freshman at the University of Virginia, won conference and national titles in the 200-individual medley. That event will be her best shot to make the Olympic team. She will be competing for one of just two spots.
“I dropped two seconds in my event two years ago and that put me third and I was like, ‘This is a realistic dream,’” said Alex Walsh.
Gretchen Walsh said her best chance to make the team is in the 100 freestyle, for which there are six spots available.
“What I’m trying to do is focus on what I can control and just have fun with it,” said Gretchen Walsh. “I think that’s the main thing.”
It doesn’t happen often that siblings make the same Olympic team in the same sport, but the Walshes are hopeful.
“For the past five years we’ve been training partners. We became each other’s support system. It wouldn’t be the same if only one of us made it,” said Alex Walsh.
“Luckily we do have different events. I’m sure Alex would understand me being upset, but also like being I’m so proud of you, but it’s just really hard to express right now,” said Gretchen Walsh. “Hopefully we both make it so that doesn’t have to happen.”
The Olympic Trials for swimming are June 13 through June 20 in Omaha, NE, and the Walshes have been through the drill before. Both Gretchen and Alex competed in the 2016 trials when they were much younger.
They think the experience of that setting will help calm some nerves this time.