By Sharon Robb
GREENSBORO, N.C., Decembe1, 2021–Olympians and training mates Katie Ledecky and Bobby Finke, competing in their first long course meet since the Toyko Olympics, won their opening 800-meter freestyle events at the Toyota U.S. Open Championships Wednesday at Greensboro Aquatic Center.
Ledecky, 24, swimming unattached for Florida, won in 8:12.81, breaking her own U.S. Open meet record. Her previous record was 8:14.59 set in 2019. It was the 18th fastest time in history and one of her 24 all-time leading marks. Leah Smith, 26, of Texas Longhorns was second in 8:23.78.
While the women’s race was fun to watch Ledecky distance herself from the field early in the race, only 1/100th of a second separated Finke and Ohio State’s Charlie Clark at the bell lap.
In the final 50, Finke, 22, of University of Florida, turned on his notorius closing speed and split a 27.20 to win in 7:54.07. Clark, 19, was second in a best time 7:54.40, dropping 4.10.
Other notables and local swimmers in the race were:
Blair Stoneburg, 17, of Treasure Coast Aquatics was 11th in 8:49.51.
University of Florida’s Kathleen Golding, 21, of SOFLO was 12th in a best time 8:51.92, dropping nearly a minute from her entry time of 9:50.11.
South Florida Aquatic Club swimmers will see action on Thursday. Honduran Olympian Julio Horrego will swim the 200-meter individual medley and state high school champion Juan Mora will race the 50-meter freestyle.
The meet is being live streamed at usaswimming.org. Results can be found on Meet Mobile.
800-meter freestyle: 1. Katie Ledecky, Unattached-Florida, 8:12.81, U.S. Open meet record, 2. Leah Smith, Texas 8:23.78, 3. Sierra Schmidt, Scottsdale Aquatic Club 8:34.80; Florida Gold Coast: 11. Blair Stoneburg, Treasure Coast 8:49.51, 12. Kathleen Golding, Florida 8:51.92, time drop 58.19.
800-meter freestyle: 1. Bobby Finke, Florida 7:54.07, 2. Charlie Clark, Ohio State 7:54.40, 3. Tommy-Lee Camblong, Unattached-Arizone 8:01.33.
Sharon Robb can be reached at email@example.com