World Cup Indianapolis: Shaine Casas Posts Strong Double; Katie Ledecky Wins 400 Free

Shaine Casas -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

World Cup Indianapolis: Shaine Casas Posts Strong Double; Katie Ledecky Wins 400 Free

The FINA World Cup shifted to Indianapolis this week with numerous top American athletes in action. The list included distance star Katie Ledecky, who broke the first short course meters world record of her career at last week’s World Cup stop in Toronto and will be in position for another record later in Indianapolis in the 800 freestyle. But there were no records in Thursday evening’s 400 free as Ledecky followed up her dual with Canadian star Summer McIntosh in Toronto (a race which McIntosh won) with an easy win in Indianapolis.

Shaine Casas was a double winner Thursday evening as he followed up an impressive triumph in the 200 backstroke with a hard-fought 100 IM win. McIntosh, meanwhile, earned a win in the 200 butterfly, while five swimmers (Casas, Chad le ClosNic FinkKasia Wasick and Dylan Carter) won events for the third time in three stops on the World Cup circuit.


Women’s 400 Freestyle

Early on in the 400 free final, Katie Ledecky got a push from 17-year-old Bella Sims, who joined the distance star to help the U.S. win gold in the 800 free relay at the World Championships this summer. Sims actually led Ledecky through the first 75 meters of the race, but Ledecky took control after the 100-meter mark and gradually pulled away. Ledecky finished in 3:54.04, more than a second off the American record of 3:52.88 that she set in finishing just behind McIntosh last week in Toronto. Only five swimmers in history, world-record holder Li Bingjie, McIntosh, Ledecky, Ariarne Titmus and Wang Jianjiahe, have ever been faster than this 3:54 performance.

Sims placed second in 3:58.85 as she beat out a big group of top U.S. middle-distance swimmers. Erin Gemmell placed third in 4:00.45, with Sims’ Sandpipers of Nevada teammates Claire Weinstein (4:01.72) and Katie Grimes (4:01.85) just behind.

Men’s 400 Freestyle

Kieran Smith of the United States was the Olympic bronze medalist in the 400 free last year, but he fell to seventh in this year’s World Championships final. But his Indianapolis performance was surely his best 400-meter or 500-yard swim since Tokyo as he led wire-to-wire and topped Lithuania’s Danas Rapsys, the Short Course Worlds silver medalist last year, by more than a second. Smith touched in 3:35.99, leaving him just outside the all-time top-10 performers in the event and about a second off Peter Vanderkaay’s American record (3:34.81). Interestingly, the time was just off the winning mark from last year’s Short Course Worlds, Felix Aubock’s 3:35.90, and Smith was almost three seconds faster than his fifth-place mark of 3:38.77 in that race.

Rapsys touched in 3:37.50 for second place, while the USA’s Jake Magahey was third in 3:38.02.

Women’s 50 Backstroke

One week after finishing second to countrywoman Maggie Mac Neil in Toronto, Kylie Masse topped the shortest backstroke race on the program with a mark of 25.96. Masse, the world champion in the long course 50 back this summer and the short course silver medalist last year, finished well ahead of Canadian Ingrid Wilm (26.25), while Sweden’s Louise Hansson, primarily a butterflyer but a strong short course backstroker, was third in 26.35. Former world-record holder Kira Toussaint was just behind at 26.37.

Men’s 200 Backstroke

Shaine Casas has now captured wins in the 200 back at all three World Cup stop this year, and he has gotten progressively faster each week. It was another dominant effort for the 23-year-old in Indianapolis. Poland’s Kacper Stokowski provided an early push, but Casas was able to pull away from there, leaving the likes of world champion Ryan Murphy in the dust. Casas, who won silver in the event at Short Course Worlds last year and bronze in the long course edition this year, touched in 1:48.40, a half-second quicker than his Toronto winning time (1:48.99). Canada’s Javier Acevedo placed second in 1:49.74, while Murphy fell to third (1:50.56).

Women’s 200 Butterfly

In her first foray into the short course 200 fly since becoming world champion in the long course version of the event, Summer McIntosh put together a solid win and a time of 2:03.40. The 16-year-old McIntosh led at all the intermediate splits in the race, but she could never quite break away from Katie Grimes, also 16 and representing the United States. The two have raced before, with McIntosh holding off Grimes for gold in the 400 IM at Worlds in June, but Grimes has yet to seriously pursue butterfly on the elite level. Here, however, Grimes came in second at 2:04.16.

Third went to another American teenager, Indiana-native Alex Shackell. Racing against senior-level competition at an international meet for the first time, Shackell clocked 2:05.18 as she overtook veteran Hali Flickinger for third. Flickinger, the World Championships silver medalist behind McIntosh, was fourth in 2:05.50.

Men’s 100 Butterfly

Once again, it was Chad le Clos cruising to a first-place finish in the 100 fly. He joined the list of swimmers completing the World Cup trifecta with victories in Berlin, Toronto and now Indianapolis as he touched in 48.85, more than a second ahead of the field. The quickest time of the circuit was his 48.58 in Berlin, while le Clos is a former world-record holder in the event at 48.08. Meanwhile, Canada’s Ilya Kharun touched out Germany’s Marius Kusch for second, 49.93 to 49.97.

Women’s 200 Breaststroke

No problem in the 200 breaststroke for Lilly King. Racing in her home state for the first time since securing the fifth individual world title of her career but the first in the 200 breast, King was up by almost a second after 50 meters and never looked back. She finished in 2:17.56, almost a second up on her Toronto mark from last week (2:18.43). King’s lifetime best (2:15.56) ranks her fourth all-time in the event. Canadian swimmers went 2-3 here with Sydney Pickrem joining King under 2:20 (2:19.77) and Kelsey Wog touching third (2:20.59).

Men’s 100 Breaststroke

Nic Fink is now seven-for-seven in World Cup wins in the men’s breaststroke, but this third win in the 100 breast came with an early challenge from Japan’s Yoshiki Yamanaka. Fink was only four hundredths ahead at the halfway point before he took over on the second 50 and won in 56.15, his quickest time of the circuit. Yamanaka took second in 56.82, and the USA’s Reece Whitley was third in 57.14, leaving long course world champion Nicolo Martinenghi of Italy in fourth place with his mark of 57.39.

Women’s 50 Freestyle

Poland’s Kasia Wasick became the fourth swimmer of the night to complete the sweep of an event at all World Cup meets as she dominated the women’s 50 free. Her mark of 23.10 was the quickest of all her wins and more than a half-second ahead of the American runnerup, Abbey Weitzeil (23.62). Weitzeil finished just ahead of Australia’s Madison Wilson (23.73) and Hong Kong’s Siobhan Haughey (23.88).

Men’s 50 Freestyle

Dylan Carter was yet another swimmer to win an event for a third consecutive World Cup meet as he out-dueled Kyle Chalmers in this one, 20.72 to 20.81, in the closest finish of the night. Carter, who represents Trinidad and Tobago but was born in the United States, has also won the 50 back and 50 fly at the first two World Cup stops, while Chalmers is undefeated in the 100 free. Third went to American Justin Ress in 21.23.

Women’s 100 IM

In a furious finish, Beata Nelson of the United States denied France’s Beryl Gastadello the win in the 100 IM. Sweden’s Louise Hansson was the early leader in this race, but she could not stay with Nelson or Gastadello on the second half, and at the finish, Nelson got to the wall in 57.81, just one hundredth clear of Gastadello’s 57.82. Nelson was just nine hundredths off the American record she set in last year’s ISL final, and she denied Gastadello what would have been a third 100 IM win on the World Cup circuit.

Hansson ended up third in 58.12, while Israel’s Anastasia Gorbenko, last year’s world champion in the event, finished fourth in 58.82.

Men’s 100 IM

The final event of the night saw Shaine Casas claiming his second victory by edging out fellow American Michael Andrew in the 100 IM. Thomas Ceccon, the Italian who owns the world record in the long course 100 backstroke, was the early leader, but he did not have the firepower on breaststroke to stay close to the medley specialists. It was Casas who took command of the race at the end as he won in 51.04, a fraction shy of the 51.03 he swam last week in Toronto to move into a tie for ninth all-time in the event. Andrew touched second in 51.22, while Javier Acevedo picked up his second top-three finish of the night in 51.38 as Ceccon fell to fourth (51.81).