Katie Ledecky, Lilly King rule at national swimming championships
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 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, the two 20-year-old women each closed out their U.S National Championships with a third victory and even bigger plans next month in Budapest, Hungary.
“This is faster than I was last summer, and I was elated then,” King said after winning the 100 breaststroke in a championship record 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, who King dubbed a drug cheat at last summer’s Olympics. Efimova and King currently are ranked one-two 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 the hard-charging Katie Meili, who went 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 freestyle at worlds, the Stanford star could replicate the feat.
After winning the 800 and 200 free earlier this week, Ledecky came back from a rare day off and broke her own U.S. Open record in the 400 with a 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.
The winners of each event automatically qualify for the U.S. Runner-ups are likely to make the team but must wait for the selection process to end.
Ledecky’s earlier win in the 800 means she can skip Saturday’s 1,500 and still compete in the event at worlds.
Cordes and Grevers produced two of the most emotional stories all week.
Ten months after Cordes saw Cody Miller take 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.
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 Murphy with a time of 52.71 to keep his career going. Murphy was second in 52.302.