USA Swimming Trials – Ledecky competes in Olympics, Welch sets record

USA Swimming Trials - Ledecky competes in Olympics, Welch sets record

INDIANAPOLIS — Katie Ledecky is heading into her fourth Olympic Games, cruising to victory in the 400 freestyle at the USA Swimming Trials on Saturday night, while Gretchen Walsh set a world record in the 100 butterfly.

Cheered on by 20,689 fans at Indianapolis Colts Stadium, Ledecky touched the wall in three minutes, 58.35 seconds.

She improved on her time of 3:59.99 in the morning qualifying and set herself up to run for another gold medal against a loaded field at the Paris Games. Australian Ariarne Titmuss is the defending Olympic champion and world record holder (3:55.38), with Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh also in the mix.

The 27-year-old Ledecky is scheduled to compete in four qualifying events, all in freestyle events ranging from 200 to 1,500 metres. She already has six individual gold medals – more than any swimmer in Olympic history.

“I’m very excited,” Ledecky said after the victory ceremony. “I never imagined I would go to my fourth Olympic Games.”

The projected second place on the Olympic team will go to Paige Madden, runner-up behind Ledecky with a time of 4:02.08.

Walsh, meanwhile, was more than half a second off the world record pace at the turn and finished strongly to surpass the mark of 55.48 set by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.

“I definitely felt it,” said Walsh, who considers herself a stronger swimmer in the short pool. “I thought I was dying. I didn’t know I was going so fast, and apparently I got him out so fast.”

Don’t worry. Walsh put her left hand over her mouth as she looked at the scoreboard in disbelief, and there was a “WR” next to her name.

“There was a little bit of noise there,” she said. “I think going into tonight, I knew it was going to take (55) point 4 or I think point 5, but I didn’t think I was going to do it tonight. I just knew I wanted to go fast time and now here I am – the world record holder. “

The 21-year-old, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, who competes at the University of Virginia, still has some work to do to earn a spot on her first Olympic team.

On the final Sunday night, she will face a strong lineup that includes Tori Hosk, Regan Smith, and Claire Corzan – all medalists from the Tokyo Games.

But Walsh feels she can go faster.

“I still have room to grow in this race,” she said.

Also on Saturday, Aaron Shackel, a local standout from suburban Carmel, earned his first trip to the Olympics with a win in the men’s 400 freestyle.

Shackle clocked 3:45.46 to beat Kieran Smith, the bronze medalist in the event at the Tokyo Olympics. Smith used a powerful finishing kick to take second with a time of 3:45.76, which should be enough to put him back in the Summer Games.

The top two in each individual event are expected to make up the strong US team.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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