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At just 20 years old Katie Ledecky has already made a case to be the most dominant female swimmer in the world. Her best competitors are still seconds behind her in the 400, 800, and 1500 freestyles, and she has been just as dominant the 200 free over the last two years.
With the recent addition of the women’s 1500 free to the Olympic schedule she has even more opportunity for history in this Olympic quad, but that doesn’t mean Ledecky’s potential is limited to the distance events. It could be easy to overlook Ledecky’s sixth place seed in the women’s 100 freestyle, but there’s reason to pay attention as we very well may have just had a glimpse at what she is capable of achieving in that event so far.
On paper it shouldn’t be surprising that Ledecky is entered in the 100 free. While her seed time going into the meet is a 53.99, her lifetime best flat start time is actually a 53.75 from the Arena Pro Swim Series in Austin, which would rank her fourth going into this meet. She was a huge contributor to the 400 free relay at the Olympic Games that year, adding a 52.79 split (second on that relay only to Abbey Weitzeil‘s 52.56) that helped the women’s relay to a silver medal and a new American record.
It also helps to remember that she trains with two of the fastest American 100 freestylers, Simone Manuel and Lia Neal. Manuel just happens to be the defending Olympic gold medalist in the event, while Neal has consistently represented the U.S. internationally in the event since the 2012 Olympic Games. Ledecky joined these two women and teammate Janet Hu on the closing 400 free relay at NCAA’s this year, adding one more title to her freshman campaign and another NCAA record in the process. Make no mistake: Ledecky is a force in the 100 free, and with a whole year of training with two of the best American sprinters she may be ready to make another jump in that event.
The real question is whether Ledecky will be able to challenge for an individual spot in the event, giving her the possibility of medaling (or, to be bold, sweeping) the freestyle events from the 100 to the 1500. While it may seem ridiculous to think Ledecky has the chance to qualify for that event individually, she has shown us time and time again not to doubt her.
You can view the full psych sheet for the Phillips 66 National Championships here.