Katie Ledecky takes on unprecedented U.S. Olympic Trials double

2021 U.S. Olympic Trials - Swimming - Day 3
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Two finals totaling 1,700 meters of swimming separated by an hour would be a daunting slate for most. But it’s becoming old hat for Katie Ledecky.

On Wednesday night, the greatest distance swimmer in history tackles what on the surface looks like her toughest session of the eight-day U.S. Olympic Trials.

Ledecky is the favorite to win the 200m freestyle that starts at 8:21 p.m. ET. Sixty-eight minutes later, Ledecky dives in for the first Olympic Trials women’s 1500m free final in history. The event — along with the men’s 800m free — was added to the Olympic program for Tokyo.

But Ledecky said her hardest session was actually Tuesday morning — a 200m free prelim followed nearly two hours later by a 1500m free prelim, after winning the 400m free the night before.

Tears flowed for Ledecky after that 400m free on Monday night. The realization that she made her third Olympic team (albeit she was surprised by her time, 2.29 seconds slower then her winning time at 2016 Trials). And being in the same room as immediate family for the first time since Christmastime 2019, celebrating.

“We just had kind of a moment where I started crying, they started crying,” she said.

This may be a first for an Olympic Trials, but Ledecky succeeded in 200m semifinal/1500m final doubles at the world championships in 2015 and 2017.

In Omaha, Ledecky qualified first into both the 200m and 1500m free finals. It’s been seven years since she last lost a freestyle of 200 meters or longer domestically. She owns the 10 fastest 1500m free times in history.

That’s a lot of time in the pool. How does she plan to prepare on Wednesday morning?

“I also haven’t been outside in like three days,” she said Tuesday, “so I’m planning on doing a little bit of that tomorrow to get some fresh air.”

SWIM TRIALS: Results | TV Schedule | Women’s Event Previews | Men’s Event Previews

A look at tonight’s races:

Men’s 100m Freestyle Semifinals — 8:05 p.m. ET
All of the contenders advanced from morning prelims, led by Rio Olympic relay champion Ryan Held. World champion Caeleb Dressel was fourth, and 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian sixth. Top eight from the semis make Thursday’s final.

Women’s 200m Freestyle FINAL — 8:21
Ledecky was last beaten by an American in a 200m free in January 2014. She qualified fastest into this final by .61 over 23-year-old Paige Madden, who still deals with chest pain after being diagnosed with COVID-19 earlier this year, shortly after receiving her first vaccine dose. Madden also took second to Ledecky in the 400m free despite entering Trials ranked seventh in the nation this year. This is Ledecky’s shortest individual event, so it is where she is most likely to be challenged. Her time will no doubt be measured against what rival Ariarne Titmus did at Australia’s Olympic Trials on Monday — a 1:53.09, the second-fastest time in history and .64 faster than Ledecky’s best time.

Men’s 200m Butterfly FINAL — 8:32
The first Olympic Trials 200m butterfly without Michael Phelps since 1996. The top four in the semifinals were separated by .21 — Luca Urlando and Justin Harting (who shared the best time), Trenton Julian and Gunnar Bentz. None of them are ranked in the top 10 in the world this year, but Urlando broke Phelps’ 17-18 national age group record in 2019, going 1:53.84 (before an early 2020 shoulder dislocation). No other American has been within 1.36 seconds since.

Women’s 200m Butterfly Semifinals — 8:43
World silver medalist Hali Flickinger, who already took second in the 400m individual medley, led qualifiers into the semis by .82. The other favorites, Regan Smith and Katie Drabot, were fourth and seventh.

Men’s 200m Breaststroke Semifinals — 8:59
The news of the morning was Rio Olympic silver medalist Josh Prenot finishing 17th and, for now, missing the semis by one spot (see if anybody scratches). Prenot then tweeted that he plans to take at least a year off from competitive swimming. The fastest Americans this year — Daniel Roy, Nic Fink and Will Licon — all advanced

Women’s 200m Individual Medley FINAL — 9:19
Alex Walsh, a 19-year-old from the University of Virginia, dusted the field by 1.12 seconds in the semifinals. But others have gone faster before. Such as Madisyn Cox, the fastest American this year. Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist, missed the 2019 Worlds after failing a 2018 drug test over what she said was a contaminated multivitaminMeghan Small, who came into Trials ranked 13th in the nation this year, qualified third into the final, taking 1.15 seconds off a personal best from 2015.

Women’s 1500m Freestyle FINAL — 9:29
Nobody in this field has swum with 33 seconds of Ledecky’s world record. Ledecky was fastest in prelims by 13.14 seconds, and it wasn’t even among her 14 fastest swims ever at 1500m. She holds the 10 fastest times in history. If she has any competition in the event, it will come in Tokyo, not Omaha, from Italian Simona Quadarella, who won the 2019 World title in Ledecky’s absence in 15:40.89. Ledecky’s best time this year is 15:40.55, but she went 15:29.51 in 2020.

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2023 World Figure Skating Championships results


2023 World Figure Skating Championships in Saitama, Japan, top 10 and notable results …

Women (Short Program)
1. Kaori Sakamoto (JPN) — 79.24
2. Lee Hae-In (KOR) — 73.62
3. Mai Mihara (JPN) — 73.46
4. Isabeau Levito (USA) — 73.03
5. Loena Hendrickx (BEL) — 71.94
6. Niina Petrokina (EST) — 68.00
7. Nicole Schott (GER) — 67.29
8. Bradie Tennell (USA) — 66.45
9. Ekaterina Kurakova (POL) — 65.69
10. Amber Glenn (USA) — 65.52


Pairs (Short Program)
1. Riku Miura/Ryuichi Kihara (JPN) — 80.72
2. Alexa Knierim/Brandon Frazier (USA) — 74.64
3. Sara Conti/Niccolo Macii (ITA) — 73.24
4. Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps (CAN) — 72.81
5. Emily Chan/Spencer Howe (USA) — 70.23
6. Lia Pereira/Trennt Michaud (CAN) — 65.31
7. Alisa Efimova/Ruben Blommaert (GER) — 65.23
8. Maria Pavlova/Alexei Sviatchenko (HUN) — 64.43
9. Ellie Kam/Danny O’Shea (USA) — 63.40
10. Brooke McIntosh/Benjamin Mimar (CAN) — 63.33

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Kaori Sakamoto leads figure skating worlds; U.S. in medal mix in women’s, pairs’ events

Kaori Sakamoto

Defending champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan topped the women’s short program at the world figure skating championships, while the U.S. has skaters in medal positions in the women’s and pairs’ events going into the free skates.

Sakamoto, trying to become the first Japanese skater to win back-to-back world titles, tallied 79.24 points, taking a significant 5.62-point lead over South Korean Lee Hae-In going into Friday’s free skate in Saitama, Japan. It’s the largest lead after a women’s short program at worlds since 2015.

U.S. champion Isabeau Levito is in fourth, one year after winning the world junior title. Levito, 16, can become the youngest world medalist since 2014.

Fellow Americans Bradie Tennell and Amber Glenn are eighth and 10th, respectively.

FIGURE SKATING WORLDS: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Earlier, Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the pairs’ short program, distancing defending champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier of the U.S., who placed second despite Frazier’s fall on their side-by-side triple toe loops.

Miura and Kihara, the world’s top-ranked pair this season, can become the first Japanese pair to win a world title, a year after taking silver behind Knierim and Frazier.

Knierim and Frazier, who will likely retire after this season, are trying to become the first U.S. pair to win multiple world titles. They’re skating without their primary coaches, Jenni Meno and Todd Sand, who didn’t travel after Sand had a heart attack three weeks ago.

“Todd’s condition is very serious, so it’s difficult to train when you feel broken inside, when your person is not there,” Knierim said, according to the International Skating Union. “However, that person is the one who instilled fight in us, so we’re able to work hard every day to make him proud, and I think we did a good job of that today.”

In fourth place are Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek and Maxime Deschamps. Stellato-Dudek, the 2000 World junior silver medalist in singles, came out of a 15-year retirement in 2016 and can become, at 39, the oldest world championships medalist in recent memory.

Worlds continue Wednesday night (U.S. time) with the pairs’ free skate, followed Thursday morning with the men’s short program, live on Peacock and USA Network.

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