Walshe stars for Tennessee at SEC Swim Championships
IRELAND Olympian, Ellen Walshe was the indisputable star for the Tennessee Lady Vols as they captured their second conference title in three years at the SEC Swimming & Diving Championships staged in Jones Aquatics Center in Knoxville.
The Templeogue woman, who only made the move to Tennessee after competing at last summer’s Tokyo Olympic Games, was in scintillating form, winning no less than seven medals, including four gold.
Declared the SEC Swimmer of the Meet, she clocked a school-record time of 4:01.53 on her way to victory in the 400m Individual Medley.
That performance went down as the fastest ever achieved by a freshman in SEC history and stands as the seventh-quickest by a freshman in NCAA history.
The Dubliner was back in the pool less than 45 minutes later to chalk up a second gold medal when she completed the 100m Butterfly in 50.34 seconds after which she made it a clean sweep of individual titles with a win in the 200m IM, clocking the second-fastest time in programme history when she touched home in 1:52.97.
The first ever competitor to top the podium in those three events at the same SEC Championship meet, Walshe became one of only three Lady Vols swimmers to card an individual treble at a single SEC Championship and the first freshman ever to record such an achievement.
The medals continued to roll in for Walshe and Tennessee in relay competition as she combined with Julia Mrozinski, Trude Rothrock and Tjasa Pintar to strike another gold in the 800m Freestyle Relay in 6:56.81 that went down as the third fastest time in programme history.
A programme-record performance in the 400m Medley Relay brought with it a team silver, with runner-up finishes also registered in the 200m Medley and 400m Freestyle relays.
Delighted with her SEC debut, Walshe said, after the championships, “It’s my first year here doing SECs and it was just great to be a part of it.
“With each event, I just went in with a good mindset that it’s just one race, so go for it from the start.
“Being part of this team, everyone is just so competitive. We’ve got such depth here, I feel anyone could spike at any time” she added.
Also on the Tennessee team with Walshe was compatriot and fellow Tokyo Olympian, Mona McSharry who scooped five medals including gold and bronze in the 100m and 200m Breaststroke respectively.