Ledecky, who turns 20 Friday, won the women’s 500-yard freestyle Thursday night with a time of 4:24.06, breaking her own NCAA and U.S. records in the event. Since arriving in Palo Alto last fall, she has set or re-set NCAA records 10 times and U.S. records eight times, either individually or as part of a relay. All told, she has broken U.S. records 29 times, to go along with 13 world records as a long-course swimmer.
On Wednesday night, the opening night of the meet, Ledecky, a Bethesda native and Stone Ridge graduate, anchored Stanford’s 4×200-yard freestyle relay squad, which broke the NCAA and U.S. records it had set last month at the Pac-12 Championships by more than 3½ seconds. The Stanford quartet also included fellow 2016 Olympians Simone Manuel and Lia Neal.
On Friday, Ledecky will swim the 200-yard free, in which she is seeded second (by 13/100ths of a second) behind Manuel, a two-time gold medal winner in Rio. And on Saturday, Ledecky will take aim at the 1,650-yard freestyle, an event in which she is the top seed (15:03.92) by almost half a minute, with 2016 Rio teammate Leah Smith, a senior at Virginia and a two-time medalist in Rio, the second seed.
Stanford is seeking its first NCAA title since 1998, having gone undefeated during the regular season, then capturing the Pac-12 championship last month in Federal Way, Wash. Ledecky was named Pac-12 Swimmer of the Meet after winning the 500-yard free and 400-yard individual medley with U.S.-record times and helping both freestyle relay squads to top finishes with NCAA and U.S. records.
Two of Ledecky’s teammates from Nation’s Capital Swim Club, Janet Hu of Vienna and Megan Byrnes of Fairfax, are also on the Stanford team.
Also on Thursday night, Ledecky was inducted, in absentia, into the Maryland Women’s Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Annapolis, along with Rockville’s Helen Maroulis, a gold medal winner in Rio in women’s wrestling.