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Ledecky breezes to national title in 800

This should be a busy week for Katie Ledecky, who has a full slate of races at swimming’s national championships in Irvine.

Things started off well enough Wednesday. Ledecky surged to victory by nearly 11 seconds in the women’s 800-meter freestyle, capturing the 14th national title of her storied career.

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“My goals,” the five-time Olympic gold medalist responded when asked about her motivation. “They’re out in front of me and I am always chasing them.”

There was another marquee name in the spotlight at Woollett Aquatics Center as Simone Manuel, the unexpected champion from the 2016 Olympics, won the 100 freestyle.

Not that she sounded too impressed with her performance, saying: “I definitely think there’s room for improvement.”

In other events, Blake Pieroni took first in the men’s 100 freestyle, Hali Flickinger captured her second consecutive national title in the 200 butterfly and Jordan Wilimovsky won the 1,500 freestyle.

In the men’s 200 butterfly, Justin Wright earned his first U.S. long-course championship with a personal-best time of 1:54.63.

“My coaches and I have been changing what I’ve been doing and I feel more confident than ever with my training,” the All-American from Arizona said. “I really did expect to have a good swim.”

As for Ledecky, she is scheduled to race in the 200 freestyle Thursday.

“That should be a good one and I’m excited for that,” she said. “That’s where my attention is right now.”

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