Ledecky, King on cruise con­trol be­fore worlds

The Denver Post - - SPORTS - By Michael Marot Tom Pen­ning­ton, Getty Im­ages

INDIANAPOLIS» Katie Ledecky and Lilly King spent Fri­day night clean­ing up in Indianapolis.

Now the two Amer­i­can stars can start plan­ning their next ma­jor pro­ject — sweep­ing the world cham­pi­onships.

On a night when Kevin Cordes re­claimed his na­tional record in the men’s 100-me­ter breast­stroke and 32-year-old Matt Gre­vers re­gained a spot on the U.S. team for the world meet, the two 20-year-old women closed out their U.S Na­tional Cham­pi­onships with a third vic­tory apiece and even big­ger plans for July in Bu­dapest, Hun­gary.

“This is faster than I was last sum­mer and I was elated then,” King said after win­ning the women’s 100 breast­stroke in a cham­pi­onship record time of 1 minute, 4.95 sec­onds. “I think it sets me up pretty well.”

King won all three Amer­i­can breast­stroke ti­tles in Indianapolis.

Next up: The daunt­ing prospect of three pos­si­ble head-to-head matchups with Rus­sian ri­val Yu­lia Efi­mova, whom King dubbed a drug cheat at last sum­mer’s Olympics in Rio. Efi­mova and King are ranked No. 1 and No. 2 in the world in each event, with Efi­mova hold­ing the best times at the 100 and 200 dis­tances. King is seeded No. 1 in the 50.

King just held off hard-charg­ing Katie Meili, who clocked 1:05.51 on Fri­day.

But Ledecky will have the more gru­el­ing chal­lenge in Bu­dapest.

Two years after be­com­ing the first swim­mer in his­tory to win the 200, 400, 800 and 1,500 freestyles at the world meet, the Stan­ford star could repli­cate the feat.

After win­ning the 800 and 200 freestyles this week, Ledecky came back from a rare day off and broke her own U.S. Open record in the 400 with a time of 3:58.44. For the third time this week, Leah Smith wound up a dis­tant sec­ond to Ledecky with a time of 4:03.77.

Ledecky’s ear­lier win in the 800 means she can skip Satur­day’s 1,500 and still com­pete in the event at the world meet.

“The 3:58 is my third-best ever and it took me some time to get from 3:58 back to 3:58,” she said. “I’m just com­ing off the first year after the Olympics and have been build­ing into the quad, so I’m happy to see what I can do.”

While the suc­cess of Ledecky and King con­tin­ued to be the big­gest splash at na­tion­als, Cordes and Gre­vers pro­duced two of the most emo­tional sto­ries all week.

Ten months after Cordes saw Cody Miller win Olympic gold with an Amer­i­can record of 58.87, Miller couldn’t do any­thing to pre­vent Cordes from re­tak­ing it in Indy.

Cordes touched in 58.74 while Miller, in the lane next to Cordes, set­tled for sec­ond in 59.11.

“It was in the back of my mind,” Cordes said after claim­ing his third na­tional ti­tle in four days.

No­body was hap­pier than Gre­vers. After fail­ing to make the Olympic team last year, los­ing his records to Ryan Mur­phy, ques­tion­ing whether he would still be com­pet­i­tive in­ter­na­tion­ally and fac­ing re­tire­ment if he didn’t qual­ify Fri­day, Gre­vers broke through with a per­for­mance that had the en­tire pool deck cheer­ing him.

He beat Mur­phy with a time of 52.71. Olympic gold medal­ist Kath­leen Baker broke Missy Franklin’s 4-year-old cham­pi­onship record and won the women’s 100 back. Olivia Smoliga was sec­ond in 59.17.

The na­tion­als con­clude Satur­day.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.