Manuel, Ledecky continue reign as swimming's golden girls

Stanford grad and Olympian Lia Neal swam in the preliminaries of the 4x100 mixed free relay to earn a gold medal in the event. Photo by Bill Dally/

Every time Stanford senior Simone Manuel jumps into the pool at the FINA World Championships in Budapest, it seems she's setting some kind of swimming record. Saturday was no different as Manuel swam the anchor of the U.S. 4x100-meter mixed free relay that set a world.

Her Stanford and Olympic teammate Katie Ledecky also won another gold medal, this time in the 800-meter free. Cardinal grad and Olympian Lia Neal swam in the preliminaries of the 4x100 relay and also earns gold as a result.

That gives the Stanford women's swimming program a net total of nine gold medals, two silvers and a chance for another medal when Manuel swims in the 50-meter free finals on Sunday.

The mixed relay was part of Caeleb Dressel's trifecta, in which be became the first swimmer to win three gold medals in one evening session. He has six total in his world championship debut.

Dressel led off the relay, followed by Nathan Adrian, Mallory Comerford and Manuel. They finished in 3:19.60.

"I know we had a lot of confidence going in," Manuel said. "We have some of the best sprinters in the world, and we've just been having a great meet, and so we're just keeping the ball rolling, swimming fast."

The U.S. has won all but one relay so far this week, finishing with a bronze in the men's 800 free relay.

"We knew what we needed to go out there and do, and that was win a gold medal," Adrian said. "We've been doing great on the relays so far. We've been doing great as a country so far. We do everything we can to make sure Team USA ends up on top of the medal stands."

Ledecky finished her meet with the victory in the 800 free, swimming 8:12.68, the 10th-fastest performance of all time in this event. Ledecky holds the world record in 8:04.79, the world championship meet record in 8:07.39 and the world junior record in 8:11.00.

Ledecky won gold in five events, including the 400 free, the 800 free, the 1500 free, the 400 free relay and the 800 free relay. She also won silver in the 200 free for six medals overall.

Her latest win gave her 14 career World Championships gold medals, the most all-time among women.

This is her third straight World Championship title in this event, and her sixth straight in major international competition, counting the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, and the 2014 Pan Pacific Championships.

While she's not walking away from the season completely satisfied, she's looking forward to what the future will bring.

"I always wish there was more," Ledecky said. "I've never walked away from a season completely satisfied, even last year. You're just always looking and moving forward. I was just going through a lot of transitions and changes this year, and knowing I've gone through that this year, now I can really take what I've learned and apply it moving forward. If this was my bad year for the next four years, then the next couple of years are going to be pretty exciting."

— Palo Alto Online Sports/USA swimming

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