This story contains references to eating disorders.
Swimmers from all over the world flocked to Budapest for the swimming portion of the 2022 FINA World Aquatics Championships, which began on Saturday. Current, former and future members of Stanford women’s swimming combined to claim four medals — one gold, one silver and two bronzes — to close out a successful opening day of competition for the Cardinal.
Ledecky cements her legacy
For many viewers, the biggest question surrounding the women’s 400-meter freestyle final on Saturday night was whether or not Katie Ledecky ’20 could break Australian swimmer Ariarne Titmus’s world record of 3:56.40. This May, Titmus took down Ledecky’s six-year-old world record of 3:56.46 at the 2022 Australian Championships. Previously, Titmus beat out Ledecky for gold in this event at both the 2019 World Championships and the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.
With Titmus bypassing the World Championships to prioritize the Commonwealth Games later this summer, Ledecky had an opportunity to reclaim her World title in the event. Although she was less than two seconds shy of the world record, Ledecky won gold with 3:58.15.
“It feels good. It’s the fastest I’ve ever been at Worlds so I’m really happy with that,” Ledecky told USA Swimming following the race. “I am really excited about the rest of the week I have ahead of me.”
The win marks Ledecky’s fourth world title in the 400-meter freestyle and her 12th individual world title overall. The former Cardinal’s gold on Saturday makes her the second-most decorated swimmer in terms of individual world titles, only behind Michael Phelps and his 15 individual World Championship golds.
Huske and Curzan step up for Team USA
Despite no previous experience in sprint freestyle on the senior international stage, rising sophomore Torri Huske and incoming freshman Claire Curzan were slated to swim the 4×100-meter freestyle relay after their 1-2 finish in the 100-meter freestyle in the U.S. World Championships Trials this year.
Huske led Team USA off with a time of 52.96, — a new personal best. Curzan, who went last, split 52.71. The pair’s efforts, alongside teammates Kate Douglass and Erika Brown, helped Team USA to a bronze medal in the event, with Canada taking silver and Australia taking gold.
“It feels great,” Curzan said to USA Swimming after the relay. “It’s a super exciting relay to be a part of and it’s great to just knock the first one out and get a medal with it.”
Ruck bounces back
In 2018, Canadian swimmer Taylor Ruck ’22 was considered by many to be the next big star in swimming after earning titles in the Commonwealth Games and Pan Pacific Championships. Late last year Ruck spoke out about her struggles with an eating disorder that has affected her career and contributed to a decline in her performances. The Globe and Mail reported that she saw improvements in her performance after seeking treatment last year.
On Saturday, she clocked a split of 52.92 to help Team Canada win silver in the 4×100-meter freestyle relay alongside Penny Oleksiak, Maggie MacNeil and Kayla Sanchez. It was Ruck’s fastest 100-meter freestyle relay split since she recorded a time of 51.82 seconds in 2018.
This isn’t Ruck’s first success this year. At the 2022 NCAA Championships, Ruck won her first-ever NCAA individual title in the 200-yard freestyle in a time of 1:41.12, her fastest since the 2018-19 season. She also helped contribute to Stanford’s win in the 800-yard freestyle relay alongside Brooke Forde, Regan Smith, and Huske.
Other Stanford contributors
Two Stanford-affiliated swimmers also competed on Saturday representing their countries. Rising sophomore Ron Polonsky competed for Israel and finished 22nd in the men’s 400-meter individual medley with a time of 4:24.05. Jonathan Cook ’22 competed for the Philippines and finished 43rd in the men’s 100-meter breaststroke with a time of 1:03.95.