U.S. International Team Trials: Katie Ledecky Secures Fourth Victory in 1500 Freestyle; Katie Grimes Takes Second (VIDEO)

Katie Ledecky -- Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

U.S. International Team Trials: Katie Ledecky Secures Fourth Victory in 1500 Freestyle; Katie Grimes Takes Second

As if there was ever any doubt. Whenever Katie Ledecky is in the pool for the 1500 freestyle, she is expected to dominate, and she did just that at the U.S. International Team Trials Saturday evening. Ledecky was in a close second place at the 50-meter mark, but she quickly established a huge lead that she pushed to more than 12 seconds over her 30 lengths of the pool.

Ledecky touched in 15:38.99, the 15th-fastest performance in history. Such has been Ledecky’s dominance in this event that she owns 13 of the 14 quicker performances, with only a single 2013 effort from Denmark’s Lotte Friis sitting a tenth quicker than Ledecky swam in Greensboro. Ledecky won world titles in this event in 2013, 2015 and 2017, but she scratched the event at the 2019 World Championships after becoming ill. In 2021, she won the inaugural Olympic gold medal in the event, and she will head to the World Championships heavily favored for gold.

Ledecky’s most important goal in Greensboro was simply earning qualification for the World Championships in all of her events, and she accomplished that goal while also posting a collection of really strong times, including her fastest performance in the 800 freestyle in four years. At the upcoming World championships in Budapest, she will be a medal favorite in all four of her individual events as well as part of the U.S. women’s 800 free relay.

“It was alright. There’s not too much to say about it. I dove in, and I didn’t really feel my stroke tonight. Not super happy about that, but I felt good all week, so I know there’s still a lot there,” Ledecky said of her performance in the mile. “I think it’s just the end of the week. It’s fine. I’m still working on a lot. I’ve been developing these things and have the tools in the toolbox and still learning how to use them. Just putting it all together, I think I can do it in a few months.”

Meanwhile, the race for second was no contest either. Katie Grimes, the 15-year-old who joined Ledecky representing the U.S. in the 800 freestyle at the Tokyo Olympics, put together a brilliant performance while racing effectively by herself. Grimes touched in 15:51.36, cutting eight tenths off her lifetime-best time of 15:52.12 that she set at last year’s Olympic Trials. In that race, the then-unknown teenager finished third after nearly running down then-Sandpipers teammate and eventual Olympic silver medalist Erica Sullivan.

Grimes became the 15th-fastest performer in history in the 1500 free with her swim Saturday, and she also moved to fourth all-time among Americans behind Ledecky, Sullivan and former world-record holder Kate Ziegler as she moved ahead of American distance legend Janet Evans.

Grimes ended up fourth in the 800 free on the first day of the meet, but she quickly rebounded. She pulled away from Olympic silver medalist Emma Weyant to win the 400 IM with the second-fastest time in the world, and her performance in the 1500 free added another Worlds qualification spot. Grimes is also set to represent the U.S. in the 10-kilometer open water event in Budapest.

“It was kind of similar to Trials in terms of the emotional roller coaster,” Grimes said of her week. “The first night obviously not what I wanted, but it gradually got better. I just tried to stay positive throughout it all, and it turned out great.”

Grimes had familiar company in the 1500 free as a pair of Sandpiper teammates rounded out the top-four. Bella Sims placed third in 16:15.87 and Claire Weinstein grabbed fourth from an earlier heat in in 16:22.78. Sims qualified for the World Championships team in the 800 free relay with a fifth-place finish in the 200 free, and she also placed third in the 400 and 800-meter events. The 15-year-old Weinstein pulled off a stunner Wednesday when she placed second in the 200 free behind Ledecky to claim individual and relay spots for Budapest.

During her breakout onto the national swimming scene on the last year, Grimes has learned to not focus on outside pressure. “A lot of the pressure I feel is self-inflicted because I’m a perfectionist when it comes to my swimming. I really strive for the best that I can be,” she said. She has learned how to carry herself by watching how veteran swimmers including Ledecky go about their business.

“I think really just trying to balance what I have going on,” Grimes said. “Sometimes I can get in my head about  my schedule and expectations, things that I’d like to accomplish, but I think I’ve grown in that aspect of trying to focus on the day and the events that I have that day and just taking it step-by-step.”



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