U.S. Olympic Trials, Day 1 Prelims: Katie Ledecky, Paige Madden Cruise to Top Seeds; Leah Smith in Final After Scratches

Paige Madden. Photo Courtesy: Peter H. Bick

The first distance race of the 2024 U.S. Olympic Swimming Trials saw a group of big names, led by Katie Ledecky, aim for the finals in the 400 freestyle.

Ledecky has the American record at 3:56.46, while the world record sits with Australia’s Ariarne Titmus holds the world record at 3:55.38, which she set at the 2023 World Championships.

She was the only swimmer to have a sub-4-minute time coming into the prelims.

With no semifinals in the distance events, the prelims saw several contenders, including five Olympians, make their move for the finals.

In the final heat of prelims, Ledecky opened with the lead and reached the 100 in 57.28, just ahead of Claire Weinstein of Sandpipers.

Ledecky cruised to a 1:58.08 at the 200 mark and 2:59.88 at the 300 mark before touching the wall in 3:59.99.

Jillian Cox reached in 4:06.35 to take second in the heat as Weinstein and the field faded.

In heat six of seven, Paige Madden made her move at the 200 mark and never trailed from there to win the heat in 4:04.83.

Erin Gemmell led at the 100 mark at 59.15, just ahead of Madden. At the 200, it was Madden led at 2:00.90 two tenths ahead of Gemmell and continued to build her led. Madden was three seconds ahead of the field at the final turn and finished in 4:04.83.

Madi Mintenko was next in 4:07.53, ahead of Gemmell (4:08.32) in the final heat.

Stanford’s Aurora Roghair and Sandpipers’ Katie Grimes put together strong enough races to make the final, along with Indiana’s Anna Peplowski.

Olympians Leah Smith and Emma Weyant finished just outside the top eight as did Michigan’s Katie Crom, who had a strong surge from lane 1 in her heat.

But Smith and Kayla Han will be in the final tonight, according to the official start list for the finals, showing that Grimes and Gemmell scratched.

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