Woly Award: Katie Ledecky, swimming

It’s World Championship season. Everything that involves swimming, diving and water polo-ing is happening in Barcelona, while track and field athletes had their last Diamond League meet before their World Championships next month.

That gave us a lot of Woly Award nominees. Would Duke bias on your blogger’s part steer the award to Shannon Rowbury, who ran the fastest 3,000 meters of the year? What about any of the other five U.S. winners at the London Grand Prix? Or Megan Romano, with an anchor leg for the ages in Barcelona?

But we’re going with a world champion in an event U.S. women don’t usually win and have certainly never gone quite as fast …

Katie Ledecky is the first U.S. woman to break the four-minute mark (3:59.82) in the 400-meter freestyle and the first woman to win the world title in the event since Janet Evans did it in 1991. Allison Schmitt set the previous American record of 4:01.77 in taking silver last year in London.

And so Ledecky is this week’s Woly Award winner, given to the top U.S. performer in Olympic sports in the week. For our purposes, the “week” ends Sunday, so any winners in Barcelona on Monday will be eligible next week.

To show the rest of the action, I’ve made a YouTube playlist, mostly from Universal Sports.

[iframe src=”http://www.youtube.com/embed/TeYxCh6YNLk?list=PLWAQzaiNbislX2gue96waJJBdzsUMnUzg” width=”560″ height=”315″]

ON THE PLAYLIST

Swimming: Katie Ledecky runs away with the 400 free world title.

Beach volleyball: Jen Kessy and April Ross rally from a set down to win the World Series of Beach Volleyball in Long Beach, Calif., the first FIVB event in the USA in 10 years.

Beach volleyball: Sean Rosenthal and Phil Dalhausser rule Long Beach.

Swimming: France with the stunning comeback to beat the USA (Nathan Adrian, Ryan Lochte, Anthony Ervin and Jimmy Feigen) in the men’s 4×100 free relay.

Swimming: Megan Romano comes back from 0.72 seconds down to give the USA the women’s 4×100 free relay title. Missy Franklin, Natalie Coughlin and Shannon Vreeland went the rest of the way to set the U.S. record (3:32.31).

Diving: David Boudia, Olympic champion and the man who gave Brandi Chastain a 10 on one of her dives on the show Splash, takes silver on the 10-meter platform in Barcelona’s stunning outdoor pool. Seriously — the scenery here is unreal.

Synchronized swimming: Solo and duet: Russia, China, Spain in all four events. Team: Russia, Spain, Ukraine in all three events. This video has Russia’s free combination routine.

Track and field: David Oliver wins the 110-meter hurdles; Aries Merritt stumbles.

Track and field: Allyson Felix holds off Shalonda Solomon to win the 200.

Track and field: Michael Tinsley is the only person to break 48 seconds in the 400 hurdles this year, and he’s done it twice. USA went 1-2-3-4.

Track and field: Nick Symmonds wins an aggressive 800 meters.

Track and field: Shannon Rowbury races away to a world-leading time in the 3,000 meters.

Track and field: Meet record (1:58.19) for Brenda Martinez in the women’s 800.

Water polo: The U.S. women cruise past Brazil 14-3 in the round of 16 and next face Spain, coincidentally the country that knocked the U.S. men out in the round of 16.

Open water: Close finishes in both of the 25k races, with Eva Fabian taking bronze in the women’s race and Alex Meyer missing out of the medals by a photo finish. Five hours, and it comes down to less than a second.

Open water: Haley Anderson wins the 5k race by 0.2 seconds. And check out the opening ceremony!

BMX: Connor Fields defends his world title in the time trial discipline. (Skip to the 14-minute mark if you like.)

Paralympic athletics: Tatyana McFadden wins her sixth gold medal in one World Championships, this one at 400 meters.

ALSO AT AQUATIC WORLDS

Men’s 400 freestyle: Connor Yaeger took bronze.

TRACK AND FIELD LINKS

Full U.S. results: Day 1Day 2

The Daily Relay’s Monday Morning Run has more on British legend-in-training Mo Farah, the intriguing women’s 100 field, Caster Semenya’s failure to make the World Championships, and the big performances by Oliver, Rowbury and Martinez.

MORE FROM THE WEEK

Lots of junior action in volleyball, rowing, basketball, modern pentathlon, field hockey and more in the Team USA roundup.

Woly Award: Katie Ledecky, swimming

When U.S. swimmers get together for an important meet, fast times follow.

At the U.S. Championships in Indianapolis, Missy Franklin had two world-leading times and two that rank second, winning all four. Ryan Lochte won three events and was second in another.

But the Woly Award this week goes to Katie Ledecky, who has the following distinctions:

1. She won Olympic gold at age 15.

2. She’s not as famous as Franklin, Lochte and company.

3. She won the 400-, 800- and 1,500-meter freestyle, and she finished second in the 200.

4. She broke Janet Evans’ meet record and posted the top time in the world this year in the 1,500.

The full list of top times from the meet, thanks to FINA’s nifty database:

1st in the world this year
M-50 free: Nathan Adrian, 21.47
W-1,500 free: Katie Ledecky, 15:47.15
W-50 back: David Plummer, 24.52
W-100 back: Missy Franklin, 58.67
W-200 back: Missy Franklin, 2:05.68
W-200 IM: Ryan Lochte, 1:55.44

2nd in the world
W-100 free: Missy Franklin, 53.43
W-200 free: Missy Franklin, 1:55.56
W-400 free: Katie Ledecky, 4:04.05
W-100 back: David Plummer, 53.10
W-200 back: Elizabeth Pelton, 2:06.29
W-50 breast: Jessica Hardy, 30.24
W-200 breast: Kevin Cordes, 2:08.34

3rd in the world
M-800 free: Connor Jaeger, 7:46.78
W-50 back: Rachel Bootsma, 27.68
M-200 back: Ryan Lochte, 1:55.16
W-50 breast: Breeja Larson, 30.40
M-50 breast: Kevin Steel, 27.26
W-100 breast: Breeja Larson, 1:06.16
W-200 breast: Breeja Larson, 2:23.44
W-100 fly: Dana Vollmer, 57.53
W-400 IM: Maya Dirado, 4:34.34

Elsewhere, it was a slow week, but a couple of highlights are worth mentioning.

Track and field: Christian Taylor had the second-best triple jump in the world this year as he, Dawn Harper-Nelson and Reese Hoffa won Diamond League events in Birmingham, England.

Tennis: Serena Williams is out of Wimbledon, but Sloane Stephens isn’t.