Ledecky, Neal, Manuel part of medal-winning efforts for USA


The United States won two swimming medals Sunday at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.

Olympian and future Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky took the first, winning gold and setting a championships record in the women's 400-meter freetyle with a time of 3:59.13. Missy Franklin, Margo Geer and Stanford's Lia Neal and Simone Manuel joined forces to earn a bronze in the women's 400-meters free relay, turning in a time of 3:34.61.

Stanford grad Maya DiRado also gave herself a chance to medal in the 200-meter individual medley. She placed fourth during Sunday's semifinals, going 2:09.82. The final of the event is scheduled for Monday.

Ledecky built a lengthy lead on the rest of the field after the first turn of the women's 400m free and never looked back to successfully defend her world title. She was .83 seconds ahead of world record pace at the 100-meter mark, and 1.17 ahead of world record pace at 200 meters. She fell off that pace in the final turn.

"When I touched the wall, I thought I was a little faster than that, but I really can't complain about a world championship gold medal and a good swim on the first day," Ledecky said. "It felt really good, and that gets me really excited for the 200 and the rest of the week. It's good to have a good swim and get some momentum for the rest of the week."

Franklin, Geer, Neal and Manuel were in the mix the entire way in the free relay, though both Australia and the Netherlands proved too powerful. The Australians took advantage of Bronte Campbell's blistering 51.77 in the third leg to pull away from the competition. They finished first in 3:31.48, more than two seconds ahead of the Netherlands, which touched in 3:33.67.

It was the same order the teams finished at the 2012 London Olympics, in which Neal participated.

"Everyone in this race was just super quick," Neal said. "It kind of reminded me of London, because it was exactly how we finished. It was the Australians, the Netherlands, then us. Obviously, it would be fun to have gold, but when you're up with girls who are just going that quick when you're giving it your all, that's all you can expect – to do your best."

NCAA champion Manuel was also satisfied with the team's performance.

"It was a pretty exciting relay, and we did as best as we could for Team USA," Manuel said. "Hopefully it will set us up for really great races for the rest of the meet."

— USA swimming

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