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Ledecky wins second freestyle event; Haase on her way to breaststroke sweep

By Bryan Flaherty

Katie Ledecky  notched her second individual win at NCSA Junior Nationals, taking the women’s 200-meter freestyle after leaving the field chasing bubbles in the first 50 meters.

She held a five-meter advantage as she turned for home at 150 meters, and looked far from tired as she finished in 2 minutes 0.46 seconds, 3.27 seconds ahead of second place. Her Curl-Burke teammate Janet Hu was sixth in 2:04.45.

The 15-year-old distance specialist uncharacteristically swam from the front for the entire race, taking it out fast right from the get-go with her long, powerful stroke.

Showing her versatility in the freestyle distances, she used an uptempo kick, more commonly seen in sprinters and mid-distance swimmers, to propel her within a half-second of her personal best, achieved last month at the Missouri Grand Prix. Ledecky’s first win at the Orlando YMCA Aquatic Center came in the 1,650-yard freestyle, in which she set two National Age Group records in the 1,650 and 1,000 freestyle distances.

The rest of the meet lacked much of the excitement from the first two nights, despite several swimmers dropping time in finals to reach their Olympic Trials cuts, with no swims even scaring a national record.

After a blistering 1:58.54 in the 200 back on Wednesday night, there was much speculation over how fast Jack Conger would push the pace in the men’s 200 freestyle.

It was not his night to shine, however, as Reed Malone — who has already finished second in two events this week — stole the show by hanging with Conger through the first 100 before pulling away in the third 50 to win the race in 1:50.97, earning himself an Olympic Trials cut in the event. Conger fell off the pace, finishing in an unexpected third. His time of 1:53.31 was half a second above the OT cut.

Sarah Haase (RMSC) captured her second breaststroke win in the 50 breaststroke event. She finished in 32.00. She will go for a sweep of the breaststroke events on Friday, when she will participate in the women’s 200 breaststroke. She is currently seeded second with a 2:12.08. Austin Dickey (RMSC) and Bo Ilgenfritz (Machine) went 5-6 in the men’s event, finishing in 29.77 and 29.80, respectively.

Andrew Seliskar (Curl-Burke) earned his second Olympic Trials cut in the men’s 400 IM. He finished fifth in 4:29.09. Max Williamson (Northern Kentucky) won the event in 4:22.42. For the women, Charlotte Meyer finished seventh in the 400 IM (4:59.34), followed by Rachel Canty (Curl-Burke) in a time of 5:00.83. Unattached swimmer Megan Rankin won the event in 4:47.34.

Mary Schneider (Academy Bullets) finished first in the women’s 50 butterfly in a time of 26.94, leaving superstar Rachel Bootsma (Aquajets) in a rare second place position in a sprint event. Bootsma’s time was 27.41. She was quickly followed by Janet Hu (Curl-Burke) in 27.59. In the men’s event, Richmond Renny (Lahaina Swim Club) won in 24.07. Graduating senior Stephen Seliskar (Curl-Burke) was eighth in 26.03.

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