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Phenom Ledecky books Rio berth

2016-06-28 08:16
Katie Ledecky (AFP)

Omaha - 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 3:58.98.

Seizing the race by the throat, Ledecky was more than two seconds under the pace of the world record of 3:58.37 she set at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia in 2014.

She remained under world record pace through 350m before settling for the third-fastest time in history.

"I could tell I was tightening up a little bit, but just knowing I had to get my hand to the wall pushed me through that," Ledecky said, admitting that she had trouble sleeping in anticipation of her first race of the trials despite her dominance of the past two years.

"It was a little hot going out," Ledecky's coach Bruce Gemmell conceded. "Sometimes we forget she's a 19-year-old girl. She gets excited."

It was the first step toward what could be an historic Rio campaign. Ledecky, 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 - a fact that wasn't lost on Ledecky as she celebrated with her rival.

Kelsi Worrell earned her ticket to Brazil with a 100m butterfly victory in a sizzling 56.48.

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.

"I've looked up to her so much," Worrell said of Vollmer. "She has a lot of wisdom and I'm hoping that she can pass some of that along to me this summer."

Kevin Cordes won the men's 100m breaststroke. Although his time of 59.18 didn't match his semi-final showing of 58.94, it was enough to hold off a charging Cody Miller by eight one-hundredths of a second.

"I knew it was going to be a race," said Cordes, who hadn't broken a minute in the event before Sunday, and lived through trials heartbreak four years ago, when a third-place finish left him out of the running for London.

"Definitely carried that for four years," he said. "I'm happy this time it's a little bit different."

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, 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.

There were fireworks in the men's 100m backstroke semi-finals, with David Plummer topping the qualifiers in 52.12 ahead of Ryan Murphy's 52.28 - the fastest times in the world this year.

Reigning Olympic champion Matt Grevers was the third-quickest qualifier for the final in 52.64, which makes him fourth-fastest in 2016.

There was trouble for 2012 golden girl Missy Franklin in the women's 100m backstroke semis. Franklin, whose four golds in London included the 100m backstroke, edged into the final with the seventh-fastest time of the semis 1.29 behind top qualifier Olivia Smoliga's 59.16.

Lilly King, 19, led the way into the women's 100m breaststroke final with an impressive semi-final swim of 1:05.94.

Results on Monday at the US Olympic Swimming Trials at CenturyLink Centre in Omaha, Nebraska (Top 2 finishers in each event can qualify for Rio de Janeiro Games):


100m Breaststroke final

1. Kevin Cordes 59.18

2. Cody Miller 59.26

3. Josh Prenot 59.81

4. Michael Andrew 59.82

5. Andrew Wilson 59.97

6. Marcus Titus 1:00.38

7. Nic Fink 1:00.39

8. Will Licon 1:00.61

200m Freestyle Qualifiers for final

1. Conor Dwyer 1:46.96

2. Jack Conger 1:47.15

3. Townley Haas 1:47.18

4. Clark Smith 1:47.49

5. Ryan Lochte 1:47.58

6. Tyler Clary 1:47.66

7. Gunnar Bentz 1:47.80

8. Jonathan Roberts 1:47.84

100m Backstroke Qualifiers for final

1. David Plummer 52.12

2. Ryan Murphy 52.28

3. Matt Grevers 52.64

4. Jacob Pebley 53.10

5. Michael Taylor 54.07

6. Sean Lehane 54.08

7. John Shebat 54.52

8. Jake Taylor 54.63


100m Butterfly final

1. Kelsi Worrell 56.48

2. Dana Vollmer 57.21

3. Kendyl Stewart 58.22

4. Cassidy Bayer 58.35

5. Sarah Gibson 58.79

6. Claire Donahue 58.81

7. Hellen Moffitt 59.23

8. Hali Flickinger 59.31

400m Freestyle final

1. Katie Ledecky 3:58.98

2. Leah Smith 4:00.65

3. Cierra Runge 4:07.04

4. Lindsay Vrooman 4:08.99

5. Allison Schmitt 4:09.25

6. Stephanie Peacock 4:09.53

7. Hannah Moore 4:09.54

8. Hannah Cox 4:09.72

100m Breaststroke Qualifiers for final

1. Lilly King 1:05.94

2. Molly Hannis 1:06.24

3. Katie Meili 1:06.37

4. Jessica Hardy 1:06.73

5. Sarah Haase 1:07.15

6. Andee Cottrell 1:07.44

7. Melanie Margalis 1:07.49

8. Miranda Tucker 1:07.60

100m Backstroke Qualifiers for final

1. Olivia Smoliga 59.16

2. Kathleen Baker 59.36

3. Amy Bilquist 59.85

4. Hannah Stevens 1:00.07

5. Ali Deloof 1:00.11

6. Clara Smiddy 1:00.29

7. Missy Franklin 1:00.45

8. Natalie Coughlin 1:00.46

Read more on:    olympics 2016  |  swimming

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