Stanford's Ledecky opens Pan Pacs with gold, bronze finishes

Katie Ledecky won the 800 free with the fifth fastest time ever recorded. She has the top 20 times in the event. Photo by Keith Peters.

Stanford junior Katie Ledecky owns world records and Olympic gold medals and she's still looking to expand her dominance in the swimming world.

Ledecky won the 800-meter free and finished third in the 200 free on Thursday, the first day of the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo.

Brooke Forde/Stanford Athletics

Simone Manuel/Keith Peters

Katie Ledecky/Stanford Athletics
The bronze medal is an achievement but for Ledecky, who swam 1:55.16 in the 200 free, which would have been a meet record if not for Canada's Taylor Ruck gold-medal effort of 1:54.44, it's motivation for the next two years.

"It's a tough double. I've done it a number of times, but it's always a difficult thing to try to get the warm down right and the warm up right for the 200 and I never really know how it's going to go until I get in there," Ledecky said. "I like to really push my range; swimming the shorter events and the longer events. I'm proud I made the decision to swim those two events and do the best I could and come away with two medals. I can't complain about that.

"Of course, it's motivating," she continued. "It's something that motivated me last year, getting silver in the 200 (at the World Championships), and I really put a lot of work into trying not to have that happen again."

A champion will always be more critical of herself than anyone else and Ledecky is no different.

"It's always great to get a medal for Team USA," Ledecky said. "I've been a lot faster than that a number of times this year, so I'm a little disappointed with the time. I think I have a lot more in me in that race."

Ledecky is no fan of losing but she has no fear of failure either. She has swam the 100 free plenty of times without winning. It's all about the process and, perhaps, building a kind of mental endurance.

"It's all about the process," she said. "I know that I still have two more years to go until the big show here in Tokyo. I hope to be here competing in that event and get another shot at it. There's a lot I can learn."

Ledecky leaves no doubt about her brilliance in the 800 free. She won the event in a time of 8:09.13 on Thursday, the fifth-fastest time ever recorded. To list the top 20 times in the event would be easy: Copy and paste Ledecky's name 20 times.

Ledecky isn't through. She'll also swim the 400 free Saturday and the 1,500 free on Sunday. Ledecky could also participate in Friday's 800 free relay.

Stanford sophomore Brooke Forde competed in the 400 individual medley, finishing fourth overall with a time of 4:39.22.

Cardinal alum and Olympic gold medalist Simone Manuel helped the 400 mixed medley relay team finish third as the anchor. Her split was 52.74 and the Americans combined for a time of 3:41.74.

Manuel returns to action Friday in the 100 free.

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA Swimming

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