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Katie Ledecky on her way to her fourth Olympics, wins 400 freestyle at US Swimming Trials – WJBF

PAUL NEWBERRY, Associated Press

28 minutes ago

Katie Ledecky swims during the preliminaries of the Women's 400 freestyle on Saturday, June 15, 2024, during the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

Katie Ledecky swims during the preliminaries of the Women’s 400 freestyle on Saturday, June 15, 2024, during the US Swimming Olympic Trials in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Katie Ledecky is heading to her fourth Olympics, heading to victory in the 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. Swimming Trials on Saturday night.

Cheered on by a crowd of 20,689 people at the home of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, Ledecky hit the wall in 3 minutes, 58.35 seconds.

She improved her time of 3:59.99 in the morning preliminaries and prepared for a run for another gold against a loaded field at the Paris Games.

The Australian ‘Terminator’, Ariarne Titmus, is the defending Olympic champion and world record holder (3:55.38) in the 400 free. Canadian phenom Summer McIntosh is also expected to battle for the top spot on the podium.

Ledecky, 27, will swim four events at her country’s trials, all freestyle events ranging from 200 to 1,500 meters. She has already won six individual gold medals – more than any female swimmer in Olympic history.

“I’m pretty excited,” Ledecky said after the victory ceremony. “I never thought I would go to a fourth Olympic Games.”

The expected second spot on the Olympic team goes to Paige Madden, second behind Ledecky at 4:02.08.

Aaron Shackell, a local favorite from suburban Carmel, earned his first appearance in the Olympics with a win in the men’s 400 freestyle.

Shackell hit the ball in 3:45.46 to hold off Kieran Smith, the bronze medalist in this event at the Tokyo Olympics. Smith used a strong finishing kick to claim second spot in 3:45.76, which should be enough to get him back to the Summer Games.

The top two in each individual event are expected to form the powerful US team.

Ledecky and Shackell were both overshadowed on the opening night of the trials by Gretchen Walsh. The 21-year-old from the University of Virginia set a world record in the 100-meter butterfly semi-final with a time of 55.18.

Walsh was more than half a second off world record pace at the turn and finished strongly, surpassing Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström’s score of 55.48 at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

Walsh held her hand over her mouth as she looked in disbelief at the scoreboard, which had a “WR” next to her name. But she still has some work to do to make her first Olympic team.

Sunday evening’s 100 fly final also includes Torri Huske, Regan Smith and Claire Curzan – all medalists at the Tokyo Games. Shackell’s sister, Alex, also advanced to the finals and will join her sibling on the Olympic team.

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AP Summer Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/winter-olympics