NCAA Swimming Championships

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Katie Ledecky laps all but one swimmer to win NCAA title

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Katie Ledecky lapped all but one swimmer through 1,000 yards of her 1650-yard NCAA Championships race, and won by 21.19 seconds.

Yet she didn’t come close to her race goal.

Ledecky won the 1650, her third individual title in three events this week, in 15 minutes, 7.70 seconds. She was slower than her American record of 15:03.92, and missed her aspiration of becoming the first woman to break 15 minutes. Video is here.

“I think I maybe took it out a little too hard, but I can still be happy with that,” Ledecky said on ESPN3. “For sure, I wanted to break 15. … I just didn’t have as much as I wanted in the end. It’ll give me something to work towards in the future.”

Ledecky looked en route to a sub-15 early on. She was four seconds faster than her record pace at the 750-yard mark.

But Ledecky fell off the pace in the latter half of the race. Her lap times dragged (relative term, obviously) from low- to mid-27 seconds per 50 yards to the upper 27s and even some 28s. In her previous record swim, Ledecky didn’t have a 50-yard split slower than 27.78 after the first 300 yards.

The only woman Ledecky didn’t lap was Olympic 400m free bronze medalist Leah Smith. Ledecky has swum this event 20 seconds faster than the second-fastest performer all time (Katie Hoff).

Ledecky finished an exemplary first NCAA season, losing just two freestyle races longer than 100 yards, both to Olympic champion teammate Simone Manuel.

At NCAAs, Ledecky won the 200-yard free (in a tie with Louisville’s Mallory Comerford), 500-yard free (breaking her American record) and the 1650-yard free.

Also Saturday, Manuel won the 100-yard free in 45.56, smashing her American record of 46.09. Olympic 100m breaststroke champion Lilly King completed a sweep of the NCAA breaststrokes for a second straight year, breaking her American 200-yard breast record in 2:03.18.

Full NCAA Championships results are here.

Now, Ledecky, Manuel and King will prep for the major international meet of the year, the world championships in Budapest in July. She’ll look to qualify for worlds at the U.S. Championships, also in Indianapolis, in late June.

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Katie Ledecky races to tie in NCAA Champs 200-yard freestyle

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Katie Ledecky notched another career first at the NCAA Championships on a Friday. Not a record (she has plenty of those). But a tie.

Ledecky, a Stanford freshman, and Mallory Comerford, a Louisville sophomore, touched the wall in the 200-yard freestyle final at the same time in 1 minute, 40.36 seconds, in Indianapolis. Video is at the 40-minute mark here.

“I put my head down, and I had no idea what happened,” Ledecky said on ESPN3 on her 20th birthday. “I never tied for first before. That’s pretty cool.”

Ledecky is undefeated in individual finals at major international meets — 15 for 15 at the Olympics, World Championships and Pan Pacific Championships.

NCAA swimming is done in 25-yard pools versus 50-meters pools in major international meets.

The 200-yard free was the most anticipated event of the four-day NCAA meet. But the attention hyped a different showdown, between Ledecky, the five-time Rio gold medalist, and Stanford teammate Simone Manuel, who bagged four medals in Rio.

Manuel is the only swimmer to beat Ledecky in a freestyle final longer than 100 meters since January 2014, doing so twice this season.

Manuel, the faster sprinter, led after 50, 100 and 150 yards on Friday. Comerford was out even slower than Ledecky but came back on both Olympians in the last 50 yards with the fastest split time. Manuel got third, .24 behind (full results here).

“It’s amazing to be racing them,” Comerford said, standing next to Ledecky. “It’s just a great experience. I was just sticking to my own race and having some fun. I’ve got nothing to lose.”

Comerford, who is five months younger than Ledecky, was 13th in the 2016 Olympic Trials 200m freestyle, more than four seconds slower than Ledecky.

But she made everyone take notice at NCAAs on Wednesday night, posting the fastest split in the 4×200-yard freestyle relay. Faster than both Ledecky and Manuel.

Ledecky won NCAA titles in the 4×200 free relay and the 500-yard free on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. She’s an overwhelming favorite in the 1650-yard free on the final day of the meet Saturday.

She called racing at NCAAs “pretty unique.”

“It ranks right up there with competing for the U.S.,” said Ledecky, who has turned down millions of dollars to stay eligible for NCAA competition. “You’re competing for your teammates that you go to school with. It’s something pretty special.”

Earlier Friday, Stanford sophomore Ella Eastin broke Ledecky’s American record in the 400-yard individual medley. Ledecky beat Eastin in setting the record at the Pac-12 Championships but did not race it at the NCAA Championships.

Stanford is favored to take home its first NCAA women’s team title since 1998, when the Cardinal were led by another freshman — Misty Hyman, who would go on to win the 2000 Olympic 200m butterfly.

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Katie Ledecky wins first individual NCAA title with American record in final teen race

Katie Ledecky
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Katie Ledecky won her first individual NCAA title in typical Ledecky fashion, shattering one of her records in her last race as a teenager.

The Stanford freshman who turns 20 on Friday won the 500-yard freestyle in Indianapolis on Thursday in 4 minutes, 24.06 seconds. That lowered her previous American record time of 4:25.15 set at the Pac-12 Championships in February.

Ledecky holds the 11 fastest times in history in the 500-yard free, according to Swimswam.com. No other woman had broken 4:30 until Thursday, when Leah Smith took second in 4:28.90.

Full NCAA Championships results are here.

NCAA swimming is done in 25-yard pools versus 50-meters pools in major international meets.

Ledecky is now two for two at NCAAs after anchoring the Stanford women’s 4×200-yard freestyle relay team to an American record on Wednesday night.

Ledecky races two more individual events at NCAAs — the 200-yard free on Friday and the 1,650-yard free on Saturday.

The intriguing event is the 200-yard free, an event Ledecky has lost twice this season to Olympic champion teammate and fellow Stanford star Simone Manuel. Louisville sophomore Mallory Comerford, who is five months younger than Ledecky, outsplit Ledecky in the 4×200-yard free relay Wednesday, too.

Stanford is favored to take home its first NCAA women’s team title since 1998, when the Cardinal were led by another freshman — Misty Hyman, who would go on to win the 2000 Olympic 200m butterfly.

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