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Katie Ledecky follows world record with second-fastest 400m free ever

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Katie Ledecky followed Wednesday’s world-record swim with the second-fastest 400m freestyle in history at a Pro Series meet in Indianapolis on Thursday night.

In her first meet as a pro, Ledecky won the 400m free in 3:57.94, giving her the 10 fastest times ever in the event. The only faster swim was Ledecky’s world record 3:56.46 at the Rio Olympics.

Ledecky won Thursday’s race comfortably by 8.73 seconds over Olympic bronze medalist Leah Smith. She reacted to the time with a head nod, subdued compared to slamming her first into the water and sticking her tongue out after Wednesday’s world record.

Full meet results are here.

“Had a little too high of a tempo the first 50,” Ledecky, who has three more weeks of Stanford classes left in her sophomore year, told media in Indianapolis. “Overall, really pleased. … Another good surprise.

“It’s really not something that should surprise me based on how I’ve been training the last six weeks. I just didn’t think that only six weeks could make that big of an impact.”

Later Thursday, Ledecky placed fifth in the 100m freestyle in 54.56. Her personal best in the 100m free, not one of her best events, is 53.75. Canadian Taylor Ruck won the 100m free in 53.42, topping Olympic and world champion Simone Manuel by .42.

Olympic and world 100m breaststroke champion Lilly King placed third in the 200m breast behind Melanie Margalis and Emily Escobedo. Margalis made the Rio Olympic team, but in the 200m individual medley and 4x200m free relay rather than the breaststroke.

London Olympic champ Nathan Adrian took the 100m freestyle in 48.69, topping Blake Pieroni by .54. The field lacked world champion Caeleb Dressel, who is competing at a meet in Atlanta this weekend.

NBCSN, Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and the NBC Sports app will air live coverage of the Indianapolis meet starting Friday.

Ledecky is also entered in the 400m individual medley (Friday), 200m freestyle (Friday), 200m individual medley (Saturday) and 800m freestyle (Saturday).

Broadcast Schedule
Friday (7 ET): Olympic Channel, OlympicChannel.com, Olympic Channel app*
Saturday (7 ET): NBCSN, NBCSports.com/live, NBC Sports app
Olympic Channel coverage also streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app for Olympic Channel subscribers.

Swimmers are preparing for the U.S. Championships in July and Pan Pacific Championships in August, the two meets that will determine the 2019 World Championships team.

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Weekend Gymnastics Roundup: Carey and McCusker on World Cup podium

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World medalists Jade Carey and Riley McCusker headlined gymnastics action over the weekend as the World Cup circuit continued with an all-around competition in Birmingham, England, and an apparatus event in Doha, Qatar.

Carey won both the vault and floor events in Doha, pushing her to the top of the standings on both apparatus (she also won the vault and floor competitions the previous weekend at the World Cup in Baku, Azerbaijan).

Doha marked the halfway point of apparatus World Cups, putting Carey in a promising position to qualify for the Tokyo Games heading into the next four events. The apparatus World Cup series includes a total of eight competitions spread over two seasons, and one gymnast per apparatus will qualify for the Olympics based on his or her top three results across the eight events.

Carey, 18, was the 2017 world silver medalist on vault and floor. But she opted not to try for a spot on the 2018 World Championships team due to the International Gymnastics Federation’s rules that active team members who help their countries qualify team spots for Tokyo (as the U.S. women did in November) cannot earn individual spots. Carey, an apparatus specialist rather than an all-around gymnast, chose the World Cup route to keep open her options of qualifying individually.

McCusker, who was part of the U.S. team that won the world title last year, finished second at the all-around World Cup in Birmingham, posting the top scores on the uneven bars and floor. Russia’s Aliya Mustafina, a seven-time Olympic medalist, won the event. Mustafina bounced back from a shaky showing last weekend at the World Cup in Stuttgart, where she finished fifth in an event won by Simone Biles. Mustafina, 24, is trying to qualify for her third Olympics after giving birth to daughter Alisa in June 2017.

The all-around World Cup circuit continues on April 7 in Tokyo, Japan, where two-time world all-around medalist Morgan Hurd and two-time Olympian Sam Mikulak are expected to compete.

First Olympic women’s aerials champion Cheryazova dies at 50

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MOSCOW — Lina Cheryazova, the first woman to win an Olympic aerials skiing gold medal, has died. She was 50.

Officials in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, where Cheryazova was living for the last two decades, said she died “following a lengthy illness,” without giving further details.

Competing for Uzbekistan, Cheryazova won gold with a triple flip when aerials skiing debuted on the Olympic program in 1994 in Lillehammer.

Shortly after winning, she learned her mother died three weeks before.

Cheryazova’s career was derailed later that year when she suffered a serious head injury while training in the United States, and spent days in a coma. She retired after failing to qualify for the 1998 Winter Olympics.