Katie Ledecky Shatters American Record in 1650 Freestyle At USA Swimming Nationals

Katie Ledecky

Photo Courtesy: Griffin Scott

GREENSBORO – Katie Ledecky will have nothing but fond memories of 2014 in the pool, and she capped off one of the most impressive calendar years any swimmer in history has seen with an American and U.S. Open record time of 15:13.30 in the 1650-yard freestyle at the USA Swimming short course nationals.

In the early stages, Ledecky didn’t appear to have the record in her sights, falling as much as two seconds off after 400 yards. But similar to her mind-blowing swim in the metric version of this event at the Pan Pacific championships, Ledecky found another gear somewhere deep inside her, and began to post 50-yard splits that finally got her under record pace at the 1000-yard mark with a 9:13.99. Incidentally, she was three seconds off Katie Hoff’s American record of 9:10.77 in the 1000, but that can wait for another day.

Ledecky got as much as 1.8 seconds under record pace through the final two thirds of the swim, posting a 26.18 in the final 50 yards. Her kick appeared to have failed her at a couple of points in the final 150 yards, but she rallied to stay ahead of the ghost of herself from last year’s nationals.

Ledecky’s splits, by 100 yards:
56.19 (1:49.95)
56.05 (2:46.00)
55.64 (4:36.88)
55.21 (5:32.09)
55.47 (6:27.56)
55.68 (7:23.24)
55.63 (8:18.87)
55.12 (9:13.99)
55.20 (10:09.19)
55.10 (11:04.29)
55.41 (11:59.70)
55.63 (12:55.33)
56.12 (13:51.45)
55.67 (14:47.12)

Gillian Ryan had the good fortune of swimming in an earlier heat of the time-final event, and her 15:54.31 held up to place second overall. That’s just two seconds off the lifetime best for the Michigan freshman and North Baltimore Aquatic Club product, and she should have that as a target next spring at the NCAA championships, which she automatically qualified for with that swim. Danielle Valley of Sarasota YMCA, sitting out the collegiate season after transferring from the University of Florida, was in the lane next to Ledecky and placed third overall with a 15:54.57, missing her best by six tenths.

UCLA’s Katy Campbell, the summer national champion in the 1500 free when Ledecky scratched the event, placed fourth tonight with a 16:04.96, a lifetime best by a full second. Rounding out the top eight were: Lakeside’s Leah Stevens (16:08.99), Haley Lips (16:09.88), Cassie Jernberg of Schroeder YMCA (16:10.59) and Kelsey Cummings of Michigan (16:13.34).