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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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Tommy Ford ends U.S. men’s World Cup drought at Beaver Creek

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Tommy Ford earned his first World Cup win at age 30 and ended the U.S. men’s longest victory and podium droughts in two decades.

Ford won the giant slalom in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Sunday, the last North American race on tour this season. He prevailed by eight tenths of a second combining times over two runs.

“It doesn’t beat doing it here. I’ve been working hard,” Ford, in his 86th World Cup start dating to 2009, said on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA. “No secret, just kept it simple and really trusted what I was doing.”

Norwegians Henrik Kristoffersen and Leif Kristian Nestvold-Haugen were second and third. American Ted Ligety, fourth after the opening run, finished 11th.

Full results are here.

Ford became the first U.S. man to win a World Cup since Travis Ganong took a downhill on Jan. 27, 2017. He also became the first U.S. male podium finisher since Ligety in January 2018. Both were the longest droughts for the program since the late 1990s.

Ford, a 2010 and 2018 Olympian who missed the 2014 Olympics due to a broken femur, had been working toward this moment.

He finished a World Cup career-high fourth at the season-opening giant slalom in Soelden, Austria, on Oct. 27. Last season, the Oregon native and former Dartmouth student had a pair of fifths.

The men’s World Cup moves to Val d’Isere, France, next weekend for a giant slalom and slalom.

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Katie Ledecky wins race by 30 seconds, takes back No. 1 ranking

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In her last race of the year, Katie Ledecky ensured she would finish 2019 as the world’s fastest 1500m freestyler.

Ledecky clocked 15:35.98 at the U.S. Open in Atlanta, winning the longest event on the Olympic pool program by 29.97 seconds. Typical for Ledecky, who owns the nine fastest times in history. This one came in at No. 8. Full meet results are here.

Ledecky scratched the 1500m free final at the summer world championships due to illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win that title in 15:40.89, which was the world’s fastest time this year until Saturday night.

“I didn’t have time on my mind at all today. I just wanted to have a consistent swim,” Ledecky, undefeated in 1500m free finals for nine years, said on NBCSN. “That’s probably the best mile that I’ve had in a while.”

The women’s 1500m freestyle debuts at the Olympics in Tokyo. Ledecky is expected to add that to her Rio Olympic individual lineup of 200m, 400m and 800m frees, assuming she is top two in each event at the June Olympic trials.

In other events Saturday, Erika Brown handed Simone Manuel a rare defeat in the 100m freestyle. Brown, a University of Tennessee senior, clocked 53.42 and lowered her personal best by .71 between prelims and the final. Brown moved from sixth to fourth in the U.S. rankings this year, upping her stock as a contender to make the Olympic 4x100m free relay pool via a top-six finish at trials.

Brown previously lowered her personal best in the 50m free on Thursday. She ranks third in the U.S. this year in that event.

Emily Escobedo dealt Lilly King a rare domestic defeat in the 200m breaststroke. Escobedo lowered her personal best by .87 and clocked 2:22.00, moving to seventh fastest in the world this year and remaining fourth among Americans.

In the men’s 200m breast, Olympic champion Dmitriy Balandin of Kazakhstan was beaten by Cody Miller, the Olympic 100m breast silver medalist. Both were slower than their best times this year.

The next significant swim meet is a Tyr Pro Series stop in Knoxville, Tenn., from Jan. 16-19.

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