Ledecky opens Pan Pacs with a pair of meet records


Olympian Katie Ledecky won two swim events and set two meet records Thursday, on the first night of the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships in Gold Coast, Australia.

The 17-year-old distance phenom opened the night with a victory in the women's 200-meter freestyle, turning in a time of 1:55.74. She then returned to the pool later in the session to take the 800-meter free in 8:11.35.

"It was my first big international double," said Ledecky, who will be a senior in high school and has committed to Stanford. "I wanted to see how I could handle it, and I'm really happy with how I handled it. It was really good to practice that warm-down in between the races. I didn't really know what to expect in the 800, and I was really pleased with how it went."

Ledecky led the field at each turn in the women's 200 freestyle, increasing her distance over the pack with each length of the pool. In the end, she won by a body-length over runner-up Bronte Barratt of Australia, who touched in 1:57.22. Vreeland finished just 16-hundredths behind Barratt.

"I'm really looking forward to the rest of the meet," Ledecky said. "I have some good races left, and this day gives me a lot of confidence. The 200 gave me confidence for the 800, so I'm just sort of building off of each one of my swims. I'm really excited. I'm really happy with how tonight went."

As expected, Ledecky owned the 800-meter free, leading from start to finish and was ahead of her own world record pace for most of the race. In the end, she missed it by 35-hundredths of a second, but shattered the former meet record 8:16.22, set by distance legend Janet Evans in 1989. New Zealand's Lauren Boyle was second in 8:18.87, followed by Brittany MacLean of Canada in 8:20.02.

"It hurt, but it wasn't unbearable," Ledecky said. "It was mostly in my shoulders. They got kind of tired, but I was able to push through it, and once I got to the 600 mark, I told myself, 'I swam the 200 just a little bit ago. I can swim another 200 to get through it.' That's how I thought of it, and it went well.

"It's nice to get close to (the world record), and I certainly think I can improve on what I've done this year. It gives me a lot of confidence. That's where I want to be right now, and I think there are a number of ways I can improve. To get close to that again is great, because I want to go a lot faster than that 8:11."

Stanford grad Maya DiRado finished ninth in the women's 200-meter fly, easily winning the 'B' final in a time of 2:07.42, which was the fourth best time of the event.

On the men's side, Stanford's Matt McLean was ninth in the 200 free in 1:47.16 and Cardinal grad Geoffrey Cheah was 20th in the 100 back in 56.68.

— USA Swimming/Palo Alto Online Sports

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