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Kate Douglass re-breaks American, NCAA record in 50-yard free

(Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

Virginia’s Kate Douglass made history on Thursday morning, and then she made some more on Thursday night, becoming the fastest woman ever in the 50-yard freestyle.

She swam a 20.87 in prelims to break the NCAA, US Open and American records set by Abbey Weitzel in 2019. Less than 12 hours later she broke that record once again, touching first in a time of 20.84 to win the national championship and own the two fastest times in history in the event.

Freshman teammate Gretchen Walsh – whose sister Alex broke the NCAA, US Open and American records in the 200 IM just one event earlier – became the first freshman ever under 21 seconds with a time of 20.95 to earn silver. Previously she had set the fastest time ever recorded by a freshman with a time of 21.04, breaking a record previously held by Simone Manuel.

“After ACCs I was pretty excited to swim the 50 here,” Douglass told SwimSwam in the post race press conference, referencing her 21-second swim at the ACC Championships. “I kind of knew I could get under that mark. This morning I definitely wasn’t expecting to go 20.8. I don’t really know what I was expecting but that was pretty awesome to finally see that record getting broken because that was a goal of mine from the start of the season.”

She added that she wasn’t surprised to see Walsh finish in second place, also under 21 seconds.

“Tonight the ultimate goal was to go 1-2 with Gretchen,” she said. “I was pretty confident after ACCs, and just training together all year, that we both were going to go under 21.”

Virginia continues to dominate this year’s NCAA championships, one year after winning their first-ever title. They’ve won four out of seven events and currently have 210 points, 82 points more than Texas who is currently in second place.