In 2012, a 15-year-old Katie Ledecky came to the Olympic Trials, along with about 30 family members, believing she had “kind of an outside chance” at making the London team.
“If I don’t make the team,” she thought to herself, “my family is still getting a family reunion out of this. It’s kind of that same approach this time, too.”
Nobody is kidding themselves that Ledecky might not make this Olympic team.
Not after she made the 2012 squad as the youngest member of the entire U.S. delegation, won 800m freestyle gold in London and went on to become the world’s most dominant swimmer in this Olympic cycle.
Ledecky’s “same approach” from 2012 is that she will again get a family reunion. This time with 50 to 55 members. They will notice just how big Ledecky’s star has become as they walk into Omaha’s CenturyLink Center, below a giant facade of Ledecky celebrating one of her victories.
“That’s a little different than four years ago,” Ledecky said in a pre-meet press conference Friday (also an added measure from four years ago). “I took a selfie with it.”
Ledecky’s approach this time is much different in breadth.
She is entered in the 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles with a legitimate chance to become the second U.S. swimmer to make an Olympic team in four freestyles (Shirley Babashoff, 1976), should she want to swim the 100m free in Rio. The 50m free has never been part of her program, so she will probably scratch out of that event.
She is also entered in the 400m individual medley on the meet’s first day Sunday, but she is not expected to be giving serious thought to want to swim it in Rio.
Ledecky, undefeated in 15 career major international meet finals, can rattle off her results from the 2012 Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event made the Olympic team.
She opened with a third-place finish in the 400m free, then ninth in the 200m free and finally won the 800m freestyle by chopping 6.07 seconds off her personal best from six weeks earlier.
“She blossomed like a flower at Trials,” USA Swimming Executive Director Chuck Wielgus said Friday.
Ledecky would not divulge her hopes for next week in Omaha, only saying that she “should be able to swim fast.”
“The goals I’ve had for this year have been the goals that I’ve been thinking about for the past two, three years,” Ledecky said. “It’s time to start working.”Follow @nzaccardi