Katie Ledecky wins by 13 seconds, seals Olympic Trials spot

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There was already zero doubt that Katie Ledecky would qualify for the June 2020 Olympic Trials, but she did it officially on the first day of the 18-month window on Wednesday night.

The five-time Olympic champion comfortably won her trademark event, the 800m freestyle, by 13.76 seconds in 8:14.40 at USA Swimming’s Winter Nationals in Greensboro, N.C. At the 200-meter mark, Ledecky became the first of who will be hundreds of swimmers to qualify for the Olympic Trials.

That’s because she split 2:01.46 for the opening 200m, just under the 200m free trials entry standard of 2:01.69. The women’s 800m free entry standard is 8:48.09, which is 43.3 seconds slower than Ledecky’s world record.

The third-year Stanford student now owns 22 of the 23 fastest times ever in the 800m free, according to USA Swimming’s times database. Her time Wednesday was her 20th fastest, just ahead of her 2012 Olympic-winning effort.

“I was happy with it,” Ledecky told media in Greensboro after her first race in three and a half months, the longest break of her career. “I wasn’t really focused on time.”

Eight more women joined Ledecky in swimming under the trials qualifying time on Wednesday, including Ashley Twichell, the open-water 5km world champion.

Later, Rio Olympian Jordan Wilimovsky qualified for trials by taking the men’s 800m free in 7:56.88, well under the trials qualifying standard of 8:12.99. Ledecky should easily beat the men’s qualifying standard in 2019. Her time Wednesday would have placed eighth in the men’s event of 24 swimmers.

NBC Sports and Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA air winter nationals coverage all weekend, highlighted by Ledecky, Simone ManuelDana Vollmer and Nathan Adrian. A broadcast schedule is here.

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