By Janet Wang
Stanford swimmers Abrahm DeVine, Katie Ledecky, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal traveled alongside Women’s Swimming head coach Greg Meehan to compete in the 17th Fédération Internationale De Natation (FINA) World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, July 23-30.
Over eight days, Team USA won 38 medals and took home the Championships Trophy. The team also broke six world records and 19 American records in both men and women individual and relay events.
The team started off strong from the first night of competition. Ledecky shined on the first night, claiming a third straight World Championships title in the women’s 400m freestyle race and a gold medal in the 400m free relay with teammates Manuel, Mallory Comerford and Kelsi Worrell. Caeleb Dressel, a 20-year-old swimmer from Green Cove Springs, Florida, won a gold medal in the men’s 400m free relay with a time of 47.26 seconds and broke two American records.
Throughout the week, Team USA continued to excel, with big wins both in the men’s and women’s races. During Wednesday night’s semifinals, DeVine competed in the men’s 200m individual medley, receiving 10th place. On day eight, Team USA wrapped up the competition with golds in both the women’s and men’s 400m medley relay.
In the women’s 400m relay, Simone Manuel, Kathleen Baker, Lilly King and Kelsi Worrell broke the world record with a time of 3:51.55, surpassing the previous record of 3:52.05, also set by the Americans at the 2012 Olympics. Team Russia followed with silver, with a 1.83 lag behind Team USA. Matt Grevers, Kevin Cordes, Caeleb Dressel and Nathan Adrian followed the women in the pursuit of a gold medal with a time of 3:27.91 but missed the world record by just 63-hundredths.
Although Ledecky claimed five gold medals and one silver medal during the week, she continues to push herself and strive for better races and times. “I’ve never walked away from a season completely satisfied, even last year… you are always looking forward,” Ledecky told USA Swimming. “I can really take what I’ve learned this year and apply that moving forward and that gets me pretty excited.”
In Budapest, Ledecky swam 6,300 meters over 11 races. She continues to rank as the only American to win four individual medals and holds 14 gold medals in her World’s competition career.
After the week of competition, Manuel, who won five gold medals, also feels like there is room to improve but is proud of Team USA’s accomplishments.
“I think that my path with swimming has just been progress forward and just dropping times, getting better as a swimmer,” Manuel said. “I feel great, it’s over. It’s a long eight days… USA swam very well and I couldn’t be happier to be a part of it.”
Contact Janet Wang at janet.wang.2012 ‘at’ gmail.com.