U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Eight: Katie Ledecky Swims 800 Free, Aiming For Four-Peat in Paris

katie-ledecky-
Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. Olympic Trials Preview, Day Eight: Katie Ledecky Swims 800 Free, Aiming For Four-Peat in Paris

American swimmers, coaches, officials and hundreds of thousands of fans will make their way to Lucas Oil Stadium — home of the National Football League’s Indianapolis Colts — for a unique U.S. Olympic Trials, complete with three temporary pools (two 50-meter and one 25-meter). The action takes place from June 15-23, with swimmers putting their hopes and dreams on the line for the opportunity to represent Team USA at the Summer Olympic Games in Paris.

These previews are part of a comprehensive Trials edition of Swimming World, which is set to be released this week.

MEN’S 100 BUTTERFLY

caeleb dressel

Caeleb Dressel — Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

Caeleb Dressel, the world record holder and defending Olympic gold medalist in this event, will try to reclaim his position atop the 100 fly in the United States, but he will have to deal with Dare Rose, whose surprise international debut at last year’s World Championships produced an individual bronze medal. Given the strength of these two swimmers, it could take a 50-low effort just to qualify for the team.

Shaine Casas, meanwhile, is tied with Ian Crocker for third-fastest American ever behind Dressel and Michael Phelps, so if he can approach his best time of 50.40, he will have a very good shot at getting on the team.

Michael Andrew has been a World Championships finalist in this event (in 2022), while Thomas Heilman joined Rose in representing the U.S. at the 2023 Worlds.

Favorites: Caeleb Dressel, Dare Rose
Contenders: Shaine Casas, Thomas Heilman, Michael Andrew
Wild Cards: Aiden Hayes, Zach Harting, Gabriel Jett, Luke Miller
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Caeleb Dressel 49.87, Tom Shields 51.19
World Record/Splits: 49.45 Caeleb Dressel, USA (Tokyo 7-31-21)
23.00                              49.45 (26.45)


WOMEN’S 200 INDIVIDUAL MEDLEY

The two most recent world champions in the 200 IM are also the strong favorites to repeat as U.S. Olympians. Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass each qualified for their first Olympic teams in an extremely tight finish three years ago, and since then, both have won Olympic medals and world titles, with Walsh winning in 2022 and Douglass in 2023 and earlier this year. They are the only active Americans ever to clock 2:07s, with Douglass ranking seventh all-time and Walsh eighth.

However, we must watch out for Torri Huske, with the butterfly and sprint freestyle specialist swimming as fast as 2:08.47 earlier this year, while teenager Leah Hayes will look to get back on a senior-level team after claiming World Championships bronze in 2022.

Favorites: Kate Douglass, Alex Walsh
Contender: Torri Huske
Wild Cards: Regan Smith, Leah Hayes
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Alex Walsh 2:09.30, Kate Douglass 2:09.32
World Record/Splits: 2:06.12 Katinka Hosszu, HUN (Kazan 8-3-15)
27.30             58.94 (31.64)             1:35.64 (36.70)             2:06.12 (30.48)


WOMEN’S 800 FREESTYLE

Twelve years after her upset win in the 800 free at Olympic Trials vaulted her into the spotlight for the first time, Katie Ledecky will be heavily favored to win this event yet again to earn her trip to Paris and a shot at a four-peat, an accomplishment no other female swimmer has ever reached (Michael Phelps is the only male four-time winner). Last year, Ledecky swam as fast as 8:07.07, her quickest mark since setting the world record at the 2016 Olympics and the third-fastest ever. A run at the global standard cannot be ruled out, but Paris is a more likely setting for such an effort.

Jillian Cox was the surprising No. 2 qualifier behind Ledecky in this event for last year’s World Championships after she edged out Claire Weinstein for second at U.S. Nationals, and Cox went on to reach the final at Worlds. Katie Grimes, fourth in the event in Tokyo, has not been sub-8:20 since those Olympics but is very capable of earning the second spot here.

Favorite: Katie Ledecky
Contenders: Jillian Cox, Claire Weinstein, Katie Grimes
Wild Cards: Leah Smith, Paige Madden, Kayla Han
Top 2 at 2021 Trials: Katie Ledecky 8:14.62, Katie Grimes 8:20.36
World Record/Splits: 8:04.79 Katie Ledecky, USA (Rio 8-12-16)
28.03                                57.98 (29.95)              1:28.71 (30.73)             1:59.42 (30.71)
2:30.06 (30.64)             3:00.76 (30.70)           3:31.13 (30.37)             4:01.98 (30.85)
4:32.20 (30.22)             5:02.94 (30.74)            5:33.54 (30.60)             6:04.30 (30.76)
6:35.07 (30.77)             7:05.44 (30.37)             7:35.80 (30.36)             8:04.79 (28.99)

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Kanga1
Kanga1
1 day ago

I’ve mixed feelings about this one. On the first hand I’d live to see an exceptional athlete achieving yet another sensational milestone. Plus we’re of the same Czech descent. Her name is pronounced ‘Leh-Dets-Kee’,so please stop mangling it!
But as an Australian I’d also dearly love to see Titmus shake her cage, along with Canada’s prodigy McIntosh!

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