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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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Weekend Gymnastics Roundup: Carey and McCusker on World Cup podium

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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.

Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.

Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.

McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.

The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.