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.
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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