Katie Ledecky expects to add 100m freestyle to Olympic trials lineup

Katie Ledecky
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NEW YORK — Katie Ledecky expects to add the 100m freestyle to her already heavy Olympic trials lineup in Omaha, Neb., from June 26 through July 3.

Ledecky, the World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and (non-Olympic event) 1500m freestyles, may swim the 400m individual medley at trials, too.

One U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics — Shirley Babashoff in 1976.

Swimming those four events at the trials is also rare. Ledecky spoke about her possible Olympic trials slate while at Rockefeller Plaza for an appearance on TODAY on Thursday, following her historic World Championships sweep earlier this month.

I still have to figure out my schedule with [coach] Bruce [Gemmell],” the Bethesda, Md., native told OlympicTalk. “It’s a nice option to have. I’ll probably swim the 100 [freestyle] for sure. We’ll see how that goes. The 400m IM is on the first day. I don’t have any other races that day, so it’s something that I might do to have one event out of the way and just to have a race under my belt. The next day I can really focus in on the 400m free. We’ll see.”

Ledecky is a heavy favorite to finish in the top two in the 200m, 400m and 800m frees at the trials to make the Olympic team (and the 4x200m free relay for her fourth Olympic event).

She would have a better chance in the 100m free than the 400m IM to make the Olympic team in a fifth event, given USA Swimming could take the top six 100m free swimmers to Rio for the 4x100m free relay versus the top two for the 400m IM and all individual events.

Ledecky’s personal best in the 100m free — 54.55 clocked on Jan. 15 — ranks her No. 42 in the world this year and No. 9 among Americans. That 54.55 came at a time of the year when swimmers aren’t peaked, and even though Ledecky swam slower 100m frees in April and June, there’s reason to believe she can be faster with a little more sprint training.

Adding the 400m IM isn’t a huge stretch – once or twice per week her practices are individual medley-based, to break up the monotony and work on each muscle group. It’s something that U.S. national team director Frank Busch has his eye on.

Ledecky’s personal best in the 400m IM is 4:41.70, which ranks No. 32 in the world this year and No. 9 among Americans. She rarely races it.

“I’d like to see her swim the 400m IM or the 200m butterfly because she’d probably do pretty good,” Busch told The New York Times.

VIDEO: Ledecky, at 16 months old, makes her first TODAY show appearance

Gemmell has already said the next piece of the race puzzle to improve is the turns.

“I still have a lot to work on for my turns,” Ledecky said. “Those are important things during short races. That would be helpful. And they add up a lot in the longer races. If I improve those, that could be really big.”

But Ledecky, whose dominance is greater at longer distances, shrugged off any mention of the open-water 10km event – a race that doesn’t have any wall turns.

“Oh no, I’m not really interested right now in going into open water,” she said. “One of my teammates, [2012 Olympian] Andrew Gemmell does open water. I really respect those swimmers. [It’s a] pretty long race.”

RELATED: How Katie Ledecky can be an underdog at the Rio Olympics

The Stanford commit will be very busy at the Olympic trials, whether or not she adds the 100m free or 400m IM.

If Ledecky chooses not to swim the 100m free at trials, she gains a rest day between the 800m preliminary heats and the 800m final.

Not that she particularly needs the break. Ledecky is the reigning Olympic champion in the 800m free, her only event in 2012 as a 15-year-old, and is 16.74 seconds faster than the No. 2 American this year.

Here’s a sample Ledecky Olympic trials schedule:

Day 1 Morning: 400m IM prelim
Day 1 Evening: 400m IM final

Day 2 Morning: 400m free prelim
Day 2 Evening: 400m free final

Day 3 Morning: 200m free prelim
Day 3 Evening: 200m free semifinal

Day 4 Morning: Off
Day 4 Evening: 200m free final

Day 5 Morning: 100m free prelim
Day 5 Evening: 100m free semifinal

Day 6 Morning: 800m free prelim
Day 6 Evening: 100m free final

Day 7 Morning: Off
Day 7 Evening: 800m free final

Day 8 Morning: Off
Day 8 Evening: Off

*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated no U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics.

Elena Fanchini, medal-winning Alpine skier, dies at 37

Elena Fanchini
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Italian skier Elena Fanchini, whose career was cut short by a tumor, has died. She was 37.

Fanchini passed away Wednesday at her home in Solato, near Brescia, the Italian Winter Sports Federation announced.

Fanchini died on the same day that fellow Italian Marta Bassino won the super-G at the world championships in Meribel, France; and two days after Federica Brignone — another former teammate — claimed gold in combined.

Sofia Goggia, who is the favorite for Saturday’s downhill, dedicated her win in Cortina d’Ampezzo last month to Fanchini.

Fanchini last raced in December 2017. She was cleared to return to train nearly a year later but never made it fully back, and her condition grew worse in recent months.

Fanchini won a silver medal in downhill at the 2005 World Championships and also won two World Cup races in her career — both in downhill.

She missed the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics because of her condition.

Fanchini’s younger sisters Nadia and Sabrina were also World Cup racers.

USA Boxing to skip world championships

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USA Boxing will not send boxers to this year’s men’s and women’s world championships, citing “the ongoing failures” of the IBA, the sport’s international governing body, that put boxing’s place on the Olympic program at risk.

The Washington Post first reported the decision.

In a letter to its members, USA Boxing Executive Director Mike McAtee listed many factors that led to the decision, including IBA governance issues, financial irregularities and transparency and that Russian and Belarusian boxers are allowed to compete with their flags.

IBA lifted its ban on Russian and Belarusian boxers in October and said it would allow their flags and anthems to return, too.

The IOC has not shifted from its recommendation to international sports federations last February that Russian and Belarusian athletes be barred, though the IOC and Olympic sports officials have been exploring whether those athletes could return without national symbols.

USA Boxing said that Russian boxers have competed at an IBA event in Morocco this month with their flags and are expected to compete at this year’s world championships under their flags.

“While sport is intended to be politically neutral, many boxers, coaches and other representatives of the Ukrainian boxing community were killed as a result of the Russian aggression against Ukraine, including coach Mykhaylo Korenovsky who was killed when a Russian missile hit an apartment block in January 2023,” according to the USA Boxing letter. “Ukraine’s sports infrastructure, including numerous boxing gyms, has been devastated by Russian aggression.”

McAtee added later that USA Boxing would still not send athletes to worlds even if Russians and Belarusians were competing as neutrals and without their flags.

“USA Boxing’s decision is based on the ‘totality of all of the factors,'” he said in an emailed response. “Third party oversite and fairness in the field of play is the most important factor.”

A message has been sent to the IBA seeking comment on USA Boxing’s decision.

The women’s world championships are in March in India. The men’s world championships are in May in Uzbekistan. They do not count toward 2024 Olympic qualifying.

In December, the IOC said recent IBA decisions could lead to “the cancellation of boxing” for the 2024 Paris Games.

Some of the already reported governance issues led to the IOC stripping IBA — then known as AIBA — of its Olympic recognition in 2019. AIBA had suspended all 36 referees and judges used at the 2016 Rio Olympics pending an investigation into a possible judging scandal, one that found that some medal bouts were fixed by “complicit and compliant” referees and judges.

The IOC ran the Tokyo Olympic boxing competition.

Boxing was not included on the initial program for the 2028 Los Angeles Games announced in December 2021, though it could still be added. The IBA must address concerns “around its governance, its financial transparency and sustainability and the integrity of its refereeing and judging processes,” IOC President Thomas Bach said then.

This past June, the IOC said IBA would not run qualifying competitions for the 2024 Paris Games.

In September, the IOC said it was “extremely concerned” about the Olympic future of boxing after an IBA extraordinary congress overwhelmingly backed Russian Umar Kremlev to remain as its president rather than hold an election.

Kremlev was re-elected in May after an opponent, Boris van der Vorst of the Netherlands, was barred from running against him. The Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled in June that van der Vorst should have been eligible to run against Kremlev, but the IBA group still decided not to hold a new election.

Last May, Rashida Ellis became the first U.S. woman to win a world boxing title at an Olympic weight since Claressa Shields in 2016, taking the 60kg lightweight crown in Istanbul. In Tokyo, Ellis lost 3-0 in her opening bout in her Olympic debut.

At the last men’s worlds in 2021, Robby Gonzales and Jahmal Harvey became the first U.S. men to win an Olympic or world title since 2007, ending the longest American men’s drought since World War II.

The Associated Press and NBC Olympic research contributed to this report.

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