Future Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky won gold in the women's 200 meter freestyle on Wednesday, Cardinal junior Lia Neal held a world record for a few hours and the United States recorded its best night of the meet so far at the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia.
The Americans won four medals. In addition to Ledecky's gold, the team also took away one silver and two bronze.
Also medaling for the U.S. were Ryan Murphy, Kevin Cordes, Katie McLaughlin and Margo Geer with a silver in the mixed 400 meter medley relay; Cordes with a bronze in the 50 meter breaststroke and Missy Franklin with a bronze in the 200 meter free.
The team of Murphy, Cordes, Kendyl Stewart and Neal swam the event for the U.S. during the morning preliminaries, recording a world record 3:42.33. Great Britain set the world record in winning the event. The Brits touched first in 3:41.71. The U.S. was second in 3:43.27.
The Americans' medal count stands at eight: three gold (all by Ledecky), one silver (Neal also earns a medal) and four bronze.
Ledecky was in fourth place midway through the 200 free, but maintained contact with the tight pack. She made her move in the third length and was second at the final turn. From there, she hammered her competitors down the homestretch, touching in 1:55.16. Italy's Federica Pellegrini was second in 1:55.32, and Franklin was third in 1:55.49.
"It actually turned out pretty well that I drew lane 7 for tonight, because I was able to see all the lanes except one," Ledecky said. "That was a little bit of an advantage I had, and I knew I could take advantage of it and get my hand on the wall first."
Ledecky also won the 400 free and the 1,500. She set a pair of world records, in the prelims and the finals of the 1,500.
"I could kind of see during the race that I was out there, and when I touched I was pretty confident I had gotten my hand on the wall first," Ledecky said. "But going into the race, I knew it was going to be a battle, and didn't really know what to expect. I wasn't really focusing on time at all, and honestly, that wasn't really that fast of a heat. I tied my best time. I was kind of expecting that I was going to have to go a 1:54 to win that. It was what it was, and I'm just happy I got my hand on the wall."
The win came on the heels of a tough double for Ledecky on Tuesday, when she broke the world record in the final of the 1500, then returned to the water a half hour later to swim in the semifinals of the 200.
"It was a lot easier than yesterday," Ledecky said. "It just didn't hurt as much. I was hoping that would be the case. I recovered well from yesterday and felt really good going into tonight, so I knew I could put together something."
Franklin's bronze is her second of the meet after finishing third as a part of the Americans' 400 free relay team on Sunday. She finished fifth in the 100 backstroke on Tuesday, but wasn't discouraged.
"Based on my results from this meet, I know my times have not been where I want them to be, but come next year, it's not going to matter," Franklin said. "I'm going to do what I will do this next year, and be where I want to be come (Olympic) Trials. I felt really good going into the 100 backstroke yesterday. My speed just wasn't there, so you get out, you do your best and you've got to move on from that. My 200s are feeling really, really good, so I'm really hoping that translates over to my 200 backstroke, and we'll see what happens in my 100 free tomorrow. It should be really tough and really fun as well, but one thing at a time."