Freestyle phenomenon Katie Ledecky is on her way to the Rio Olympics after blazing to victory in the 400m freestyle at the US swimming trials in 3min 58.98sec.
She was on pace to break her own world record of 3:58.37 much of the way before settling for the third-fastest time in history.
It was the first step toward what could be an historic Rio campaign. The 19-year-old, who exploded on the international scene with an 800m free triumph in London four years ago, is entered in the trials in every freestyle event from 50m through 800m.
Leah Smith, a relay gold medalist at last year’s world championships, clung to Ledecky’s heels all the way, slicing nearly three seconds off her personal best to finish second in 4:00.65.
That makes her the fourth-fastest performer ever and promises a formidable US one-two punch in Rio.
Kelsi Worrell earned her ticket to Brazil with a 100m butterfly victory in a sizzling 56.48sec.
That made her second-fastest in the world this year behind Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom.
Worrell, who won gold at the Pan American Games last year in her first international meeting, powered past 2012 Olympic gold medalist Dana Vollmer on the second lap, but Vollmer locked up second place and a chance to repeat in Rio in 57.21.
The 28-year-old Vollmer, who took time off after London to give birth to her son Arlen, now 15 months old, exchanged a long hug with her 21-year-old rival across the lane ropes at the finish.
Kevin Cordes won the men’s 100m breaststroke.
His time of 59.18 didn’t match his blazing semi-final showing of 58.94, but it was enough to hold off a charging Cody Miller by eight one-hundredths of a second.
The ailing Ryan Lochte, vying to make a fourth Olympic team, made it safely into the 200m freestyle final with the fifth-fastest time in the semis.
Lochte, who missed out on a chance to repeat his 400m medley victory of 2012 when he finished third in that final on Sunday while nursing a groin injury, clocked 1:47.58 to finish third in his heat, won by Conor Dwyer in 1:46.96, the evening’s fastest time.
Lilly King, 19, led the way in the women’s 100m breaststroke final with an impressive semi-final swim of 1:05.94. – Agence France-Presse