University of Virginia swimmers Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass both won medals for the United States in the 200-meter individual medley on Wednesday at the Tokyo Olympic Games.
Walsh, a rising sophomore, won the silver medal with a time of 2:08.65. Douglass, a rising junior, came in just behind her teammate with a time of 2:09.04.
“We put our hearts on the line and it worked out, so I couldn’t be prouder,” Walsh told Swimming World after her race.
It’s the first time either swimmer has won an Olympic medal.
Japan’s Yui Ohashi won the gold medal, finishing in 2:08.52.
Douglass and Walsh were instrumental in UVa winning its first swimming and diving national championship this season, and they brought their elite form to Tokyo.
Douglass and Walsh battled in the event, which UVa fans were able to watch live Tuesday night at approximately 10:45 p.m. ET. The NBC broadcast showed members of UVa’s swimming and diving teams gathered together for a watch party in Charlottesville.
Douglass started strong in the butterfly, looking the part of a contender. Walsh excelled, as she typically does, in the backstroke. Walsh held a lead after the third leg of the race, the breaststroke. Douglass came on strong in the final 50 meters, taking advantage of the freestyle. She was able to earn a bronze medal, while Walsh came extremely close to winning gold.
“I think we all knew that it was going to come down to the last 50 in that race because all our times are pretty close together,” Douglass said after the event.
Competing in the Olympics offered a tremendous learning experience for Douglass and Walsh, who figure to be in the mix to make future Olympic teams.
“I’m really excited for the rest of my career, having now this meet under my belt,” Walsh told Sports Illustrated after the race. “I think it takes the pressure off, but also I think I realize that I haven’t reached the limit yet.”
It’s hardly the first time Douglass and Walsh have found success this year. Both swimmers were a part of UVa’s team title, and they each won individual NCAA championships this season. Walsh won the NCAA title in the 200 IM, while Douglass won the 50 freestyle.
They give UVa plenty to look forward to next season, when it hopes to defend its NCAA crown. Incoming freshman Emma Weyant won a silver medal in the 400 individual medley last week, adding to UVa’s dynamic roster.