Ledecky, Manuel earn gold, world records at FINA Worlds


Future Stanford swimmer Katie Ledecky just keeps adding to her impressive collection of world records. Cardinal sophomore Simone Manuel will walk away from the FINA World Championships in Kazan, Russia with one of her own.

Ledecky set a world record in earning the gold medal in the 800- meter freestyle, finishing in 8:07.39 on Saturday.

Manuel was joined by Olympic gold medalists Ryan Lochte, Nathan Adrian and Missy Franklin in winning gold and setting a world mark in the mixed 400 free relay, going 3:23.05.

Ledecky dominated the 800 the same way she's dominated every race she's competed in this week in earning her fifth gold medal of the meet.

Leading from start to finish, and ahead of world-record pace the entire way, Ledecky touched 3.61 seconds ahead of the former world record of 3:11.00, which Ledecky swam at a meet in Shenandoah, Texas.

Ledecky also has gold medals from the 400 free, 1,500 free, 200 free, and 800 free relay. It was also her third world record after shattering the mark in the prelims and finals of the 1,500.

"I just couldn't be happier with how this swim went, or how this whole week went," Ledecky said. "It got a little tough around the 550, I think, but I knew I could finish hard. I kind of backed off the first 75. That's what (coach) Bruce (Gemmell) wanted me to do, and he told me to put that in the last 75. So I knew I could finish hard because I had done what I needed to do the first 100."

Ledecky became the first swimmer in history to sweep the 200-, 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle events at the World Championships

"I'm just very happy with how that swim went. I kind of figured the next step would be under 8:10, and I kind of thought it would be 8:08, so to see the 8:07 was great," Ledecky said. "It's August 8, I was swimming the 800, and believe it or not, it would have been my grandpa's 88th birthday. I didn't really have any pressure, and I didn't really need to do that, but it would have been really cool if it had been 8:08. That's why I was really happy with the 8:07."

Over the course of her career, Ledecky has competed in nine World Championship finals and has emerged victorious in each.

"It's all about moving forward," Ledecky said. "I set very high goals a couple years ago. After Barcelona, I set my goals for these last couple years, and I have a little ways to go still. I'm chipping away at those goals, and this is a really great stepping stone towards Olympic Trials."

The U.S. edged the Netherlands by five-hundredths at the finish, 3:23.05 to 3:23.10, of the mixed relay. Canada was third in 3:23.59.

The Americans trailed various teams throughout the race, all the way through the final five meters when an amazing finish by Franklin sealed the victory.

"I didn't think I was going to get her (the Netherland's Femke Heemskerk)," Franklin said. "I turned at the 50 and knew they had a really tough back end with Ranomi and Femke, so it was like, 'Get out there and do you best.' So I put my head down, got my hand on the wall and looked up and saw Nathan (Adrian) cheering. I was like, 'Ok, we must have done well.' I think all of us came off a tough night, and all of us except maybe Ryan had a double tonight, so we just knew we had to give whatever we had left in the tank, and thankfully that was enough."

This is the first time the race has been contested at a long course World Championships. The Americans' time also bettered the championship record of 3:24.51 set by Conor Dwyer, Lochte, Margo Geer and Abbey Weitzeil in prelims.

"It was really fun," Adrian said. "We didn't have a great vantage point, so I had to keep looking up at the board. Missy did not have the lead until the last meter of that race, so it was really exciting."

Manuel also competed in the semifinal of the 50 free. She finished sixth in 24.47 to advance to Sunday's final.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA swimming

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