College swimming: Olympic medalist Katie Ledecky anchors NCAA record-breaking 800 freestyle relay
FEDERAL WAY, Wash. -- In the only two races on Day One of the 2017 Pac-12 Swimming and Diving Championships, the Stanford women's swimming and diving team tallied two victories, an American and NCAA record, and the fastest 50-yard freestyle split ever recorded.
The Cardinal set the new American and NCAA standard in the 800-yard freestyle relay, and also opened the meet with a thrilling victory in the 200 medley relay on Wednesday night. After the first day, and with two events in the books, Stanford sits in first place with 128 points. Cal is second with 114 and USC is third at 108.
Senior Lia Neal led off the 800 free relay and gave way to freshman Katie Drabot, who touched in sophomore Ella Eastin. Stanford, which had a very small deficit when freshman Katie Ledecky hit the water as the anchor leg, finished with a four-second victory. The NCAA record of 6:49.42 eclipsed a two-year-old mark held by Cal by almost a second.
In the meet's opening event, Stanford and rival Cal matched stroke-for-stroke throughout the 200-yard medley relay. But Simone Manuel's blazing freestyle finish of 20.78 over the final 50 yards helped out-touch the Bears by a tenth of a second. Relay splits are not an officially kept, but Manuel's time is the fastest ever recorded for a female swimmer. Combined with that finish, Ally Howe, Kim Williams and Janet Hu helped the Cardinal post a final time of 1:34.32.
"We are pretty excited," Hu said of the victory. "We knew we were ready, and we are excited to see what the rest of the meet holds for us."
"I think this night really got the ball rolling," added Neal. "We are excited for all the really great swims to come, and already really proud of all the swims tonight."