Sports

DiRado wins Pan Pacific title; Ledecky wins fifth gold medal

 

Katie Ledecky, the high school senior who has committed to Stanford, won her fifth gold medal of the meet and set a world, American and meet record in the women's 1500-meter freestyle Sunday at the Pan Pacific Championships. Her time of 15:28.36 shattered the former mark of 15:34.23, which she set last June in Shenandoah Texas.

Stanford grad Maya DiRado also won a gold medal, winning the women's 200-meter individual medley with a meet-record time of 2:09.93.

Ledecky established her third world record in 15 days. She set the 400-meter free earlier this month at the Phillips 66 National Championships, and then broke it again in Saturday night's finals.

She became the first woman to break the 15-minute, 30-second barrier in the 1500. She also became the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single Pan Pacific Championships and was named female swimmer of the meet for her efforts.

"I knew it was my last race of the meet, and the last race of the season," Ledecky said. "I've had a really good season, and I wanted to finish on a good note. I didn't want to walk away with a meet thinking, 'Oh, that was just OK.'

"I was planning on digging in deep the last 50, but I had to kind of wait until the last 25. I just put it all in there the last 25."

The American men's 400 medley relay then closed out the meet with gold in 3:29.94.

Team USA also won four silvers and three bronzes Sunday. The silver medalists were Michael Phelps in the men's 200m IM (1:56.04), Anthony Ervin in the men's 50 freestyle (21.73), Nic Fink in the men's 200 breaststroke (2:08.94) and Missy Franklin, Jessica Hardy, Kendyl Stewart and Stanford incoming freshman Simone Manuel in the women's 400-meter medley relay (3:57.41).

The U.S. won 40 medals overall, 14 gold, 12 silver and 14 bronze, along with the Pan Pacific Championship team trophy.

Ledecky's 1500m free was as masterful as it was dominant.

She was under world-record pace for the first 200 meters, then fell off that pace until the 1000-meter mark. At that point, not only was she 25 meters ahead of her next-closest competitor, but she continued to build her lead on the world record line displayed on the stadium's video monitor with each lap.

"That was probably one of my most painful races," Ledecky said. "It was painful, but it paid off in the end. I figured pretty early on in the race that I was on world-record pace. I wasn't sure about the middle if I fell off too much, because it did really hurt. I was pretty sure I had it, but breaking it by six seconds was pretty surprising, I guess."

By the end of the race, she had lapped three swimmers and was about 40 meters ahead of runner-up Lauren Boyle of New Zealand, who touched more than 27 seconds behind in 15:55.69. Brittany MacLean of Canada was third in 15:57.15.

"It really hurt, but I was in a good rhythm," Ledecky said. "It's pretty hard to get me out of that rhythm, so I think the momentum just carried me through the race."

In the women's 200m IM, DiRado trailed Australia's Alicia Coutts through the first 100 meters, then moved up to challenge in the breaststroke leg, along with teammate Leverenz. She then outsplit Coutts by 58-hundredths of a second down the homestretch for the win. Coutts took silver in 2:10.25, followed by Leverenz for bronze.

It was DiRado's second medal of the week after taking silver in the 400m IM on the second night of competition.

"My fly has been feeling really easy this week, so I think I was able to get out well," DiRado said. "I knew I had to push the backstroke because all the other girls are really good at breaststroke. I think my breaststroke must have been OK, and then I had a lot left coming home in freestyle, so it all came together."

Manuel also finished fourth in the women's 50-meter free in 24.70.

Stanford grad Geoffrey Cheah, competing for Hong Kong, finished 20th in the men's 50 free.

— USA Swimming/Palo Alto Online Sports

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