COLUMBUS, Ohio — No. 1 Stanford claimed national titles in all five swimming events, including three American records, on the second day of the NCAA Women's Swimming and Diving Championships at McCorkle Aquatic Center on Thursday.
Junior Ella Eastin, the 200-yard freestyle relay and the 400 medley relay each set new American records, while sophomore Katie Ledecky won the 500 free for the second straight year, and senior Simone Manuel, who won three national titles on the night, claimed her third NCAA gold in the 50 free.
RELATED: Stanford wins 800m free relay on Day 1
Through the first two days, defending champion Stanford has won all six swimming events and leads the meet with 211 points. Cal is second with 147 points and Texas is third with 109.
"The volume of work they have put in since September allows them to be confident going into each race," said Paul A. Violich Director of Women's Swimming Greg Meehan. "They don't need to be extra to have a great race. They just have to stick to what they do and the details of their race plan, and the rest falls into place. The momentum of one win leads to another and all of a sudden you get rolling. Our super stars get a lot of attention, but we've been specatular A-to-Z."
400 Medley Relay
Stanford capped its 5-for-5 night with an American record of 3:25.09 in the 400 medley relay. Senior Ally Howe opened with a 50.34 split in the backstroke, and junior Kim Williams followed with a 58.89 in the breaststroke. Senior Janet Hu finished the fly in 50.36, and senior Simone Manuel made up a one-second deficit with a blistering freestyle split of 45.08.
Stanford is the first school to win this event five straight times. Hu and Howe joined former Cardinal Lori Heisick, the mother of Stanford sophomore Brooke Stenstrom, as the only swimmers to win four consecutive NCAA titles in the 400 medley relay.
"Its amazing to have those two win all four years," Meehan said. "Ally has been in that situation for the last three years and to see her rise above in that moment was just awesome. The two of them have changed so many things about our team and culture. They came in as the No. 1 recruiting class, and it's hard to follow through with all those expectations, but they have delivered on so many levels."
"It is definitely always fun to do something like that with Janet," Howe said. "It has been great having Janet these past four years, especially someone else as a training partner. She pushes me to be the best I can."
The only swimmers in history to be part of 4⃣ NCAA titles in the 400 medley relay:— Stanford WSwim/Dive (@stanfordwswim) March 16, 2018
Janet Hu, @allyjoyhowe and Lori Heisick, the mother of current sophomore @BrookeStenstrom #GoStanford pic.twitter.com/4NA5eKtztT
200 Individual Medley
Eastin set the NCAA and American standard in the 200 individual medley at 1:50.67. She knocked nearly a second off of the old mark, which she set at the 2016 NCAA meet. This was Eastin's second national title in as many days (800 free relay) and the seventh of her career. This is also Stanford's 10th title in this event as Eastin joins Summer Sanders (1991-92) and Julia Smit (2009-10) as the only other Cardinal with multiple golds.
Howe also earned All-America honors in the event with a 10th-place finish of 1:55.55.
200 Free Relay
In a sign of things to come, in the first heat of the first event of the day, Hu, Manuel, Pitzer and Howe set an American record in the 200 free relay (1:25.68). In the finals, they broke that mark with the fastest finish in history at 1:25.43. Hu took the lead leg at 21.65, and handed to Manuel, who put Stanford in the lead with a blazing split of 20.89. Pitzer finished in 21.62 and kept the Cardinal in front. Cal made a late push, but Howe beat everyone to the wall with a split of 21.27.
This was Stanford's eighth national title in the 200 free relay and first since 2014, breaking a three-year run by Cal, who finished seven-hundredths behind the Cardinal.
"Cal is a phenomenal team and we knew we would have to be at our best to get our hand on the wall first," Howe said. "It was a fun way to start and we hope to keep it going for the rest of the week."
In another impressive feat, Stanford finished 1-2 in the 500 free. Ledecky's finish of 4:26.57 outpaced the field by eight seconds as she became the third Stanford swimmer to win back-to-back national titles in this event, joining Janet Evans (1990-91) and Marybeth Linzmeier (1982-84).
In a tight race for second, sophomore Katie Drabot was next to touch the wall and earned silver with a career-best finish of 4:34.86. She is just the fourth Cardinal to break 4:35 in the event, joining Ledecky, Eastin and Janet Evans.
A pair of freshmen earned their first career individual All-America honors in the event. Brooke Forde was third in the B final and placed 11th overall with the fifth-fastest finish in program history at 4:37.53. Lauren Pitzer was 16th overall with her time of 4:42.25.
Manuel won her third national title in the 50 free. The Sugar Land, Texas, native is just the fourth woman ever to win the event three times, and the second Cardinal to do so (Catherine Fox, 1997-99). A redshirt in 2016, Simone won the national title each year she competed in this event (2015, 2017, 2018).
Manuel's pool record time of 21.18 was just one-hundredth of a second from matching her NCAA record, and a full three-tenths better than the rest of the field.
In all, the Sugar Land, Texas, native won NCAA titles in the 200 free relay, 400 medley relay and 50 free on Thursday night.
Friday's prelims will begin at 7 a.m. PT. The Cardinal will have multiple swimmers in every event which includes the 400 individual medley, 100 butterfly, 200 free, 100 breaststroke and 100 backstroke as well as 3-meter diving and the 200 medley relay. Finals are set to begin at 3 p.m. PT and can be seen on ESPNU or the WatchESPN app.