Stanford women conclude fall season with swim records


There's no doubt that head coach Greg Meehan can't wait until world recordholder Katie Ledecky joins his Stanford women's swim team next fall. In the meantime, he'll have to make due with freshman Simone Manuel.

While Manuel doesn't have the global recognition that Ledecky does -- winning Olympic gold medals will do that -- the talented sprinter from Texas provides a domination in the sprints and relays like perhaps no Stanford swimmer before her.

Manuel was simply outstanding during the three-day Art Adamson Invitational, which concluded on Saturday at Texas A&M in College Station. She broke three school records and, in doing so, lowered her own American record in the 100-yard freestyle.

The 100 came on the final day, with Manuel splashing to a 46.62. That lowered her previous U.S. standard of 46.75 from earlier this year and eclipsed Lia Neal's 47.17 school mark from the 2014 NCAA meet.

Manuel's time also moved her to No. 2 in the world all-time, trailing only Arianna Vanderpool-Wallace's 46.61 that stands as the U.S. Open record. Manuel, meanwhile, also set a U.S. 17-18 National Age Group Record with her 100 time.

Manuel also won the 50-yard free in 21.59, a school record that moved her to No. 7 all-time on the U.S. list. Completing a sweep of school records, Manuel also won the 200 free in 1:42.03. That ties her with Ledecky for No. 7 on the all-time U.S. list.

Manuel's 200 time was named the Speedo Performance of the Week by USA Swimming, which compared her dominance in the 50, 100 and 200 the most dominant since former Stanford All-American Jenny Thompson owned those events in the late 1990s.

Equally important as her sprint wins, which established her as the early favorite for next spring's NCAA Championships, were Manuel's legs on the relay teams. Stanford closed the meet with its fifth relay victory as Maddy Schaefer, Manuel, Neal and freshman Janet Hu won the 400 free relay in 3:10.77, tying the school record while clocking a time that would have won last year's NCAA title. It blew away the NCAA 'A' cut time by five seconds.

Manuel also anchored the winning 400 medley relay on the first day, clocking an unheard of 45.81 time to help the Cardinal win in 3:29.48. Freshman Ally Howe from Sacred Heart Prep led off the relay.

Host Texas A&M scored 1,204.5 points to win the meet while Stanford had 1,137.5 for second.

"I'm pleased with our team's performance this weekend," said head coach Greg Meehan. "Racing hard three days in a row this time of year gives us feedback for how we can be successful in March. We definitely have some areas where we need to be better and I'm looking forward to working on those when we get back."

Meanwhile, Hu ended the meet with four individual wins, including an easy victory in the 200 fly (1:55.31) on Saturday. On Day 2, Hu became the No. 5 performer in school history in the 100 back (52.18) and No. 7 in the 100 fly (52.07) while winning both races.

Freshman Heidi Poppe moved to No. 3 all-time at Stanford in the 100 breast while clocking 59.21 and Howe moved to No. 6 in the 200 back with a personal best of 1:53.56.

Meanwhile, the Cardinal men closed out a dominating performance with another relay sweep on Saturday. The foursome of of David Nolan, Thomas Stephens, Connor Black and Sacred Heart Prep grad Tom Kremer clocked an NCAA 'A' cut time of 2:53.0.

The Stanford men nearly tripled their nearest competitor, scoring 1,523 points to crush LSU (573 points) and Grand Canyon (468 points).

Stanford's Danny Thomson added a win in the men's 1650 free to his victory in the 500 free earlier in the meet as he stopped the clock in 15:06.40.

Nolan, a senior, picked up his third win of the meet in the 200 back with a time of 1:41.03. The NCAA automatic qualifying time in the event stands at 1:40.88. He also took the 200 IM in 1:43.24.

Stanford earned a 1-2-3 sweep in the men's 100 free with Thomas Stephens topping the field in 43.66, slightly ahead of teammate Connor Black (43.81). Max Williamson earned his second win of the meet by taking the 200 breast in 1:56.98 and teammate Gray Umbach took the 200 fly in 1:43.20 with Kremer third in 1:45.37 to help highlight the final day.

Stanford closed its fall portion of the schedule and will start again Jan. 23 in Tucson, Ariz., against the Wildcats.

Swimming continues next week, however, as Ledecky highlights a field of more than 800 for the USA Swimming's AT&T Winter National Championships at the Greensboro (N.C.) Aquatic Center. The short-course yards meet opens Dec. 3.

Ledecky is the American recordholder in the 500-yard and 1650y freestyle events. She was a triple winner on Monday night at USA Swimming's annual award show. She took home the Female Swimmer of the Year, Race of the Year and Relay Performance of the Year honors at the New York Marriott Marquis.

Former Stanford All-American Maya DiRado earned a Golden Goggles award for Breakout Performer of the Year.

This year's event celebrated the accomplishments of the U.S. team at the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships, where the Americans topped the medal table with 43 medals (16 gold, 13 silver, 14 bronze).

The 17-year-old Ledecky earned Female Athlete of the Year honors for the second straight year, after posting five world-record swims last summer. She set world records in the 400-meter free and 1,500-meter free on back-to-back nights at 2014 Pan Pacs, and in Australia became the first woman to win four individual gold medals at a single Pan Pacs, as she topped the podium in the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter free and added gold in the 4x200-meter free relay. At the 2014 Phillips 66 National Championships, Ledecky won titles in the 200-, 400- and 800-meter freestyles.

DiRado continued her ascent with Team USA this year by claiming her first individual international medals. At the 2014 Pan Pacs, she claimed gold in the 200-meter IM and silver in the 400-meter IM. At the Phillips 66 Nationals, DiRado took second in the 200-meter IM and 400-meter IM, and added national titles in both IM events at the 2014 NCAA Championships as Stanford finished in second place.

The Pan Pacs roster was also honored at the beginning of the event, which included Felicia Lee, Manuel and Cardinal head coach Greg Meehan, who was an assistant for Team USA.

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