TYR Pro Swim Series: Katie Ledecky Returns to Competition With Strong Effort in 1500 Freestyle

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TYR Pro Swim Series: Katie Ledecky Returns to Competition With Strong Effort in 1500 Freestyle

Before she stepped onto the blocks on Wednesday night at the USA Swimming TYR Pro Series stop in San Antonio, it had been a year since distance star Katie Ledecky last competitively raced. Obviously, Ledecky has been logging some quality training during the COVID-19 pandemic, as she unleashed a strong performance in the 1500-meter freestyle at the Bill Walker Pool.

Covering her 30 laps in 15:42.92, Ledecky posted a time that only she and four others have bettered in history. As evidence of her dominance, Ledecky has gone faster on 12 occasions, including her world record of 15:20.48. Otherwise, only Denmark’s Lotte Friis, New Zealand’s Lauren Boyle, Italian Simona Quadarella and American Katie Ziegler have been faster than what Ledecky managed in the middle of training.

“It feels good,” Ledecky said in the post-race mixed zone via Zoom. “It’s good to see everyone and be in this environment and get the opportunity to race.”

While Ledecky, a three-time world champion in the event, has been the class of the 1500 freestyle since she emerged on the international stage in 2012, the discipline has taken on greater significance with its addition to the women’s lineup this summer at the Olympic Games Tokyo. For the men, the 800 freestyle has been added to the program.

Prior to the meet, there was intrigue concerning Ledecky’s status after being away from competition for a year. She provided a clear picture to her standing, as Ledecky bolted to the front of the field and continually widened her advantage. She was followed to the wall by Ashley Twichell, who touched second in 16:04.29, with third place going to Erica Sullivan in 16:07.66. Twichell is already qualified for the Tokyo Games in the 10K open-water event.

Ledecky said she didn’t come in with a set goal for the night, only to reintegrate herself into the swing of racing.

“It was OK,” she said. “I didn’t set too many expectations going into this first race and kind of knew getting the first race out of the way would be a milestone in this journey back to real racing, so I’m looking forward to the rest of the week.”

Ledecky is also entered in the 200, 400 and 100 free. She was coy on what she’d swim beyond “definitely the 400,” labeling the 100 as TBD. She also said it was to be determined if she’d swim the 1,500 again prior to Olympic Trials.

In the men’s 1500 freestyle, Jordan Wilimovsky was the top finisher in a time of 15:15.28, with Will Gallant next in 15:20.39.

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