If Stanford women's swimming coach Greg Meehan needed a glimpse into the future of his program, all he needed to do was watch Thursday night's women's 200-meter freestyle race at the Phillips 66 National Championships at the William Woollett Jr. Aquatics Center in Irvine.
There was Katie Ledecky, who has verbally committed to Stanford and has one more year of high school, outperforming Missy Franklin.
Meehan can't even utter one word about Ledecky until she's actually a Stanford student but that likely doesn't stop him from dreaming. The Olympic gold medalist and world recordholder went 1:55.16 to win the 200 free title, .36 seconds ahead of her fellow Olympic gold medalist and world recordholder.
Incoming Stanford freshman Simone Manuel, an absolute speedster, also showed she could go the distance with her seventh-place finish of 1:58.79.
Just as important, Cardinal junior Julia Anderson finished 15th in 2:00.81, which would score points in the NCAA championships.
It's even more than the possibility of having so many Stanford swimmers in the championship final. It's also about the possibility of dominating any of the relays, which are doubly important in the NCAA meet.
The Cardinal seems to be accumulating the fastest swimmers available. Senior Maddy Schaefer recorded one of the top times in the nation in the 50 free last year and sophomore Lia Neal is an Olympian who has produced fast times.
Stanford finished second in the nation in the spring, the highest of any Pac-12 team, a conference loaded with talent. The current recruiting class appears aimed to help the Cardinal take the next step.
Stanford grad Felicia Lee finished sixth in the 50-meter fly in 26.54. Incoming Cardinal freshman Janet Hu was 18th with a time of 27.27.
Senior Katie Olsen was Stanford's top placer in the 200-meter breast, swimming a time of 2:28.65 for 13th. Sacred Heart Prep grad, PASA swimmer and incoming Stanford freshman Ally Howe competed in the 'C' final of the 200-meter back. She finished 21st overall, going 2:13.95.
On the men's side, Stanford's 800-meter free relay team of Thomas Stephens, Drew Cosgarea, Jeff Garnier and Sean Duggan finished second, in 7:28.01, behind only a strong North Baltimore team.
Stanford sophomore Connor Black turned in the top individual performance with his third place finish in the 50-meter fly. He swam a 23.64, just ahead of Stanford grad Eugene Godsoe, who was fifth in 23.76.
Cardinal grad B.J. Johnson was fourth in the 200-meter breast with a time of 2:10.77 and PASA swimmer Brandon Fischer was 13th in 2:14.60.
Cosgarea, a senior, swam in the championship final of the 200-meter free, going 1:48.73 for an eighth-place showing. Incoming freshman Liam Egan competed in the 'C' final.
Curtis Ogren, also an incoming freshman, won the 'C' final of the 200-meter back in a time of 2:00.86. He and Howe competed in the Speedo Junior National Championships last week at the same site.