Katie Ledecky qualified sixth-fastest into the 100m freestyle final on Tuesday to open the USA Swimming National Championships, part of the TeamUSA Summer Champions Series, presented by Comcast.
The top two in Tuesday night’s final will make the world championships team in the event.
Ledecky, who swam 54.70 seconds Tuesday morning, is an underdog in that sense behind top qualifiers Mallory Comerford (53.26) and co-Olympic 100m free champion Simone Manuel (53.50).
But Ledecky, Olympic champion in the 200m, 400m and 800m frees, has never voiced intentions of making the U.S. team in the 100m free. She ranked No. 5 in the nation in the event last year. Ledecky swims the 100m free to earn a place on the 4x100m freestyle relay.
Just making the eight-woman final, combined with Ledecky having the second-fastest U.S. split time in the Rio 4x100m free relay, puts her in contention for the quartet at worlds in July.
Ledecky is scheduled to race both the 100m and 800m free finals Tuesday, her only double of the five-day meet in Indianapolis. Her races are separated by 27 minutes.
Tuesday finals are at 6 p.m. ET, with coverage from 7-8 p.m. on NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app.
Comerford, who tied Ledecky for the NCAA 200-yard freestyle title, had the breakout female swim of the first session in Indianapolis. Her 53.26 was a personal best by .65. The rising Louisville junior moved from No. 15 on the U.S. all-time list to No. 3 behind Manuel and Amanda Weir.
In other events, 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian and Caeleb Dressel were among the qualifiers into the men’s 100m freestyle final. The fastest qualifier was surprisingly Zach Apple, who clocked 48.14 seconds, a personal best by 1.29 seconds.
Chase Kalisz, the Olympic 400m IM silver medalist, qualified fastest into the 200m butterfly final. Kalisz could make the U.S. team in three events this week. He ranks No. 1 in the 200m butterfly and both IMs.
Olympian Tom Shields missed making the eight-man final by .11, placing ninth overall.
Olympian Hali Flickinger was the top qualifier into the women’s 200m butterfly final. Cammile Adams, who finished fourth in Rio, is not competing at nationals.
Kelsi Worrell, who was second-fastest in the U.S. this year behind Flickinger entering this week, is not swimming the 200m fly at nationals.
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