Zach Apple

Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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Nathan Adrian races for first time since cancer treatment

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Nathan Adrian finished fourth in his first event since being diagnosed with testicular cancer and undergoing two surgeries, swimming the 100m freestyle at the Tyr Pro Series in Bloomington, Ind., on Friday.

Adrian, who captured the 2012 Olympic 100m free among five career golds, clocked 49.31 seconds to finish .55 behind winner Zach Apple. Adrian, 30, announced Jan. 24 that he was diagnosed with testicular cancer. It was caught early, and the prognosis was good.

“It’s a good feeling,” Adrian said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “It’s tough to describe, right? This is home for me. Honestly, I’ve never been to Bloomington, but this environment. … That’s what feels right.”

It’s just the beginning of what should be a busy season. Adrian plans to swim the 4x100m free at the world championships in July and race individually at the Pan American Games the following week.

Come next summer, Adrian will likely need to break 49 seconds to make a fourth straight Olympic team and get under 48 to swim the individual 100m free in Tokyo.

“You get something like an adverse health diagnosis, everything kind of stops,” Adrian said. “You realize health is No. 1, and everything had to be pushed to the side. Fortunately, we’re through that for now, and I get to do what I can to get back on track.”

TYR BLOOMINGTON: Full Results | TV/Stream Schedule

In other events Friday, Katie Ledecky won the 400m freestyle in 3:59.95, the second-fastest time in the world this year. Australian 18-year-old Ariarne Titmus swam 3:59.66 at her national championships last month. Ledecky owns the 12 fastest times in history, including the world record of 3:56.46 from Rio.

Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel took the women’s 100m free in 53.65, topping Mallory Comerford by .46. Ledecky, who doesn’t swim the 100m free internationally, was fourth.

Manuel remains ranked 10th in the world this year, while Australian Cate Campbell has been a half-second faster than anyone else.

Olympic and world champion Lilly King clocked the world’s fastest 100m breaststroke of 2019, a 1:05.68 to knock Russian rival Yulia Efimova off the top of the world rankings. King swam for the first time as a pro following a decorated career in Bloomington at the University of Indiana.

Fellow former Hoosier Cody Miller won the men’s 100m breast in 59.24, his fastest time since the 2017 World Championships. Miller, the Olympic bronze medalist, was slowed by a knee injury last year, when he failed to qualify for this year’s world championships. His time on Friday, which beat national champion Michael Andrew, would have won the 2018 U.S. title.

MORE: Olympic breaststroke champion faces ban for missed drug tests

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U.S. disqualified from Pan Pacs relay for swimming out of order

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The U.S. men’s 4x100m freestyle relay team swam out of order in winning the Pan Pacific Championships title, resulting in one of the stranger disqualifications in major international swimming.

Caeleb DresselZach Apple, Blake Pieroni and Nathan Adrian originally combined to win the race in Tokyo on Saturday by .35 over Brazil.

Later, it was ruled that Apple and Pieroni swam each other’s legs, taking the Americans out of the medals and upgrading Brazil to gold.

The start list had a U.S. order of Dressel, Pieroni, Apple and Adrian.

Relay DQs happen, but they are often for a swimmer taking off too early on a relay exchange.

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PAN PACS: Full Results