Just weeks ago, Katie Ledecky and Simone Manuel were competing together as college teammates as Stanford University stormed to an NCAA championship. Now the pair are owning the top of the podium in Mesa, Arizona at the Arena Pro Swim Series, each taking home their second win on the second day of competition.
On Thursday, Ledecky finished fourth in the 100-meter freestyle before running away with the 400 free. The second day saw her complete a more strenuous double: she placed second in the 400-meter individual medley in 4:38.16 to open the evening session and was back in the pool for the 200 free just 24 minutes later. There was no discernible fatigue, however, as she finished first in 1:56.31 in a field that included four of her Rio 2016 Olympic teammates. Leah Smith finished second in 1:58.47 and Manuel third in 1:58.98. Ledecky is the reigning Olympic gold medalist in the event.
“It went well. It was as tough as I thought it would be – I’m glad it’s over,” Ledecky told USA Swimming. “It’s good to just to put myself in different situations like that."
After Manuel's third-place finish, she was back in the pool again later in the session for the 50-meter freestyle. The reigning Olympic silver medalist, Manuel had no problem taking the top spot in 24.66. Madison Kennedy placed second in 24.99 while Olympian Lia Neal took third in 25.14.
“I couldn’t ask for better because my speed usually isn’t there at the beginning of the year," Manuel told USA Swimming. "It usually comes at the end, so I’m pretty pleased with my 50 free."
Fellow 2016 Olympian Chase Kalisz earned his first win of the meet in the 400-meter individual medley. After winning silver in the event in Rio, he stormed to an easy victory in Mesa, touching in 4:11.01. Olympic teammate Josh Prenot placed second in 4:17.72 while Sean Grieshop rounded out the top three in 4:22.07.
Jacob Pebley, also a member of the 2016 Olympic team, took the title in the 200-meter backstroke in 1:56.88. He touched ahead of Serbia's Arkady Vyatchanin, who placed second in 1:58.61, and Sean Lehane, placing third in 2:00.66.
In the women's 400 IM, Canada's Mary-Sophie Harvey finished first in 4:38.05, just barely out-touching Ledecky, who earned second in 4:38.16. Madisyn Cox took third in 4:40.37.
Nathan Adrian, the day after winning the 100 free, placed second in the 50 free; he won bronze in both events in Rio. He was beaten out by Finland's Ari-Pekka Liukkonen, who touched in 21.94 to Adrian's 22.25. New Zealand's Daniel Hunter rounded out the top three in 22.53.
U.S. athletes were shut out of the top three in the men's 200 free, with Trinidad & Tobago's Dylan Carter finishing first in 1:48.45 ahead of Brazil's Joao de Lucca (1:49.51) and Venezuela's Cristian Quintero (1:49.59).