Katie Ledecky ends the longest break between meets of her brilliant career this week, suiting up for USA Swimming’s Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C., live on NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA.
Last we saw Ledecky, she wrapped up the year’s major international meet — the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo — with three golds, a silver and a bronze on Aug. 12. Close to her typical medal haul, but it came under the most difficult major-meet circumstances of her life.
Ledecky is usually back in competition by early fall. Not this year. Having turned pro, she no longer has a school team to rack up points for. She still trains and studies at Stanford, but she can’t race for the Cardinal.
USA Swimming’s database says Ledecky hasn’t taken three and a half months between meets since 2004, when she was 7 years old.
Winter Nationals is an opportune meet to ease back into racing. Ledecky and other headliners Simone Manuel, Dana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian don’t have the pressure of trying to make a national team. This meet, for many swimmers, is the first chance to post qualifying times for the 2020 Olympic Trials, which the aforementioned gold medalists don’t have to worry about.
Ledecky is entered in the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles. Manuel joins her in the 100m and 200m frees and is on the 50m free start list.
Vollmer’s presence is notable. The five-time Olympic champion races for the first time since January. Vollmer skipped nationals in July as she works back from her second childbirth on July 4, 2017, meaning she missed not only Pan Pacs but also a chance at the 2019 World Championships.
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|Thursday||5 p.m.||Day Two Finals (LIVE)||Olympic Channel|
|Friday||5 p.m.||Day Three Finals (LIVE)||Olympic Channel|
|Saturday||5 p.m.||Day Four Finals (LIVE)||Streaming|
|Sun., Dec. 16||3 p.m.||Highlights||NBC|
*All broadcast coverage streams on NBCSports.com/live and the NBC Sports app. All preliminary races stream live on usaswimming.org.