Sue Walsh

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NCAA All-American Swimmer

The University of North Carolina has spawned an impressive list of athletes through the years, including Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame member Bob McAdoo and fellow hoop standout (and NBA icon) Michael Jordan. However, no Tar Heel has ever matched the collegiate achievements, or achieved greater acclaim than South Buffalo’s “Queen of the Backstrokers,” swimmer Sue Walsh.

A product of Mt. Mercy Academy and the esteemed Lockport Aquatic Club, Sue was already a local champion swimmer and record holder when she departed for college. Walsh made a splash at Chapel Hill, establishing a record of unparalleled dominance over the next 4 years at North Carolina. This space permits only an abbreviated listing of her accomplishments; the highlights include eight National Collegiate Athletic Association Championships, All-American status four years running (actually, swimming) and for 27 individual events, National Collegiate Athletic Association records for the 50 yard, 100 yard and 200 yard backstroke races, 35 short-course records, 3 titles in the 1983 National Short Course Championships, and an undefeated collegiate record in backstroke events. Her collegiate record won her Atlantic Coast Conference Swimmer of the Year laurels 3 times. Walsh set a record in the 100 meter backstroke at the Pan-Am Games (1983), qualified for the U.S. Olympic Team in 1980 (the boycott year), and narrowly missed qualifying in 1984.

An outstanding student, Walsh maintained a 3.77 grade point average, and was rewarded as the first Tar Heel to receive the NCAA’s Top Five Award in 1985, the highest individual award bestowed on student athletes by the NCAA. As a recipient, Sue joined a select club which that year also included Heismann Trophy winner Doug Flutie. Sue was also the first woman to be honored by the University of North Carolina as Senior Athlete of the Year in 1984. Walsh maintained her ties to her Alma Mater after graduation, returning to Chapel Hill in 1987 as assistant swim coach.

For four years, Sue Walsh graced Atlantic Coast Conference pools and brought honor to her university as one of the greatest swimmers in NCAA history. In 1998, she graced the ranks of former inductees as the first swimmer welcomed into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame.