2019 US Open Championships: Night 1 Timed Finals Recap


Night one of the 2019 U.S. Open (formerly known as Winter Nationals) kicks off at 6 p.m. Eastern time in Atlanta, and we’ll see distance stars vie for a title in the 800 free. Katie Ledecky and Leah Smith headline the women’s race. Smith will is slated to swim her first 800 of the 2019-20 season, and just her sixth since the start of the 2018-19 season. Ledecky swam the 800 in early November at the Greensboro Pro Swim Series stop, going 8:14.95. Also seeded in the top 10 on the women’s side are Australian Kiah Melverton, Ally McHugh, Erica Sullivan, Ashley Twichell, Haley Anderson, Cierra Runge and Chase Travis.

Florida sophomore Bobby Finke is the top seed on the men’s side, also swimming his first 800 of the season. Russian Louisville freshman Ilia Sibirtsev is the No. 2 seed, and Zane Grothe is slotted in at No. 3. The top 10 seeds also include Jordan Wilimovsky, Michael Brinegar, Andrew Abruzzo, Ricardo Vargas Jacobo and True Sweetser. Tonight’s race will also feature a few of Brazil’s distance mainstays, including Guilherme Costa, Miguel Valente and Diogo Villarinho.

Women’s 800 Free

  • American record: 8:04.79, Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • U.S. Open: 8:06.68, Katie Ledecky, 2016
  • US Open Meet: 8:24.36, Stephanie Peacock, 2012
  1. Katie Ledecky, NCAP, 8:14.59
  2. Kiah Melverton, TSSA, 8:26.08
  3. Leah Smith, FORD, 8:27.49

Katie Ledecky had a multiple-body-length lead by the 200, and was just off her world record place at that point (2:00.08). Ledecky was 4:04.96 at the 400, and closed in 1:01.47 to win the event in a new meet record of 8:14.59.

Australian Kiah Melverton took second, going stroke-for-stroke with Leah Smith the whole way. Melverton was 2:03.81 at the 200-mark, 4:11.99 at the 400, and finished in 8:26.08. Smith, who finished third, was 2:03.57 at the 200, 4:12.65 at the 400, and finished in 8:27.49.

Open water stars Ashley Twichell and Erica Sullivan finished fourth and fifth in 8:29.45 and 8:30.76, respectively.

Finishing in ninth place was 14-year-old Bella Sims, who dropped 11 seconds off her lifetime best to go 8:35.96. That times makes her the eighth-fastest girl in 13-14 history. Her 13-year-old teammate Katie Grimes clocked in at 8:37.46, the 12th-fastest 13-14 swim in history.

Men’s 800 Free

  • American: 7:43.60, Michael McBroom, 2013
  • U.S. Open: 7:44.57, Zane Grothe, 2018
  • US Open Meet: 7:47.27, Chad La Tourette, 2009
  1. Guilherme da Costa, MTC, 7:47.37
  2. Jordan Wilimovsky, TSM, 7:49.76
  3. Zane Grothe, BCH, 7:51.53

Brazilian Guilherme da Costa came out with the win — and broke his own South American record — after going neck-and-neck with Jordan Wilimovksy and Zane Grothe for the first 500 or so meters. Da Costa was 1:54.89 at the 200-mark, 3:53.15 at the 400, and finished in 7:47.37. Wilimovsly was 1:54.88 at the 200, 3:53.67 at the 400, and finished in 7:49.76. Grothe was 1:54.44 at the 200, 3:53.53 at the 400, and was third in 7:51.53.

Team Santa Monica’s Ziyang Zhang was the sole teenager to make the top eight. In the third 800 free of his career, he broke 8:00 for the first time, going 7:58.57. Nineteen-year-old Kieran Smith posted an 8:01.46 to take 10th, and 17-year-old James Plage was 12th at 8:04.09.

In This Story

Leave a Reply

Notify of

oldest most voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
3 years ago

exact replica of her golden Olympic race seven years ago. She later considered such splits
(4:04 – 4:10) strange. There was a period after Olympic Games in Rio when Katie Ledecky tried very fast start during in season training. She swam several times first 300m under 3min. Is it something similar of what she was trying today?

3 years ago

Jordan owns Zane

3 years ago

Erica Sullivan 5th place in 8:39.76
But Bella Sims 9th in 8:35.96

Edit: Nevermind, I looked it up. It’s a typo. Sullivan swam 8:30,76.

3 years ago

Costa time was a new South American record

3 years ago

I love Katie Ledecky.

About Torrey Hart

Torrey Hart

Torrey is from Oakland, CA, and majored in media studies and American studies at Claremont McKenna College, where she swam distance freestyle for the Claremont-Mudd-Scripps team. Outside of SwimSwam, she has bylines at Sports Illustrated, Yahoo Sports, SB Nation, and The Student Life newspaper.

Read More »