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.

Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

Asher Hong
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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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