OMAHA, Neb. — The long and short of it was not an issue for Katie Ledecky.
On another memorable night for the American swimming star, Ledecky won the 200-meter freestyle and the historic 1,500 free about 70 minutes apart at the U.S. Olympic trials Wednesday, locking up two more individual events for the Tokyo Games.
This was about as tough as it gets.
First, a relative sprint over four laps — the shortest event in Ledecky’s program.
Then, a grueling metric mile comprising 30 laps — the longest race in pool swimming and one that will be making its Olympic debut for the women in Tokyo.
Her short time between races was chaotically choreographed to keep Ledecky as fresh as possible for the 1,500.
“The goal was to get in the warm-down pool as quickly as I could,” she said. “I tried to keep moving, hydrated and swam for 15-20 minutes before they pulled me to go back to the awards [ceremony]. I ate a banana, drank chocolate milk and water, put a jacket on as I was walking.”
It worked out just fine. The 24-year-old from the nation’s capital touched the wall far ahead of everyone else with a winning time of 15 minutes, 40.50 seconds — well off her 2018 world record (15:20.48) but fastest in the world this year.
Ledecky has already pondered the significance of the inaugural women’s 1,500 free at the Olympics.
About time, she said.
“The men have had the mile in the Olympics since 1908,” Ledecky pointed out. “It’s 2021, and we finally got one.”
Erica Sullivan was nearly a half-lap behind, but she knocked more than four seconds off her personal best to take the expected second Olympic berth in 15:51.18.
The 200 free was one of four gold medals that Ledecky won at the Rio Games. She’ll get a chance to defend that title after winning in 1:55.11, a full body length ahead of the field.
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