Katie Ledecky, after chats with legends, wins two races in one night at Olympic Trials


Katie Ledecky isn’t known for pre-race chatter, but she shared a message with the other seven swimmers before the first Olympic Trials women’s 1500m freestyle final on Wednesday.

“We’re making history tonight,” she said.

Then she crushed them.

Ledecky won the 200m free and the 1500m free in an 85-minute span in Omaha, giving her three victories in three events with just the 800m free to go.

In the 200m free, Ledecky trailed at the halfway mark but won comfortably in 1:55.11. She’s joined in the individual 200m free by 2012 Olympic champion Allison Schmitt, who was 1.68 seconds behind and held on by .01 over Paige Madden. Schmitt, 31, made her fourth Olympic team after taking almost two years off after Rio, where she was strictly a relay swimmer.

Madden and fourth place Katie McLaughlin qualified for the 4x200m free relay. Bella Sims, a 16-year-old who ranked 133rd in the U.S. in the 200m free in 2019, is also likely going to Tokyo along with Brooke Forde for finishing fifth and sixth.

Ledecky later routed the field by 10.68 seconds in the 1500m free, which makes its Olympic debut as a women’s event in Tokyo after being on the program for men since 1908. She clocked 15:40.50, with Erica Sullivan getting second.

Ledecky owns the 10 fastest times in history, led by her world record of 15:20.48.

Much has been made this week about the fact that Australian rival Ariarne Titmus has been faster than Ledecky this year in the 200m and 400m frees, but the American remains in class of her own in the 1500m. Her prelims time — 15:43.10 — was three seconds faster than any other woman in 2021.

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

On Tuesday night, Ledecky texted with Debbie Meyer, who in 1968 won the Olympic debuts of the women’s 200m free and the women’s 800m free. Ledecky first met Meyer at age 17 at a United States Aquatic Sports Convention. The high schooler Ledecky’s eyes lit up at the mere mention of Meyer’s name, not needing to be told that she was an Olympian.

On Tuesday, Meyer texted Ledecky to express familiarity. She saw parallels between Ledecky leading the first set of Olympic women’s 1500m freestylers into Tokyo, and her own experience with the 800m in Mexico City.

Then on Wednesday morning, Ledecky was out for a walk in steamy Omaha, her first fresh air in three days, and saw Janet Evans. She won the 800m free at the Olympics in 1988 and 1992, but never got a chance to swim the 1500m at the Games despite holding the world record from 1987 to 2007.

“She swims her races a lot like I used to,” Evans said after posing for pictures with Ledecky at the 2014 U.S. Championships. “I remember that feeling when there’s no one around you [in a race]. You’re just like, what do I do now? You keep swimming.”

While some swimmers move down to shorter events as they age, Ledecky loves the mile.

“I’ve always enjoyed the distance training,” she said, noting the mental strength, toughness and strategy to reel off 28 consecutive 31-second lengths of the pool on Wednesday.

Ledecky managed a difficult double. After winning the 200m free, she had a 15-to-20-minute warm-down swim before an awards ceremony. She ate a banana, drank chocolate milk and water and put a jacket on as she walked, slowly, maximizing efficiency and conserving energy. After stumbling over her words in a quick interview, she moderately swam some more before returning to the competition pool.

It’s a process she’s familiar with, having done the 200m-1500m double in one night at world championships with about a half-hour between events. In Tokyo, she’ll have another tough stretch:

July 26 morning: 400m freestyle final
July 26 evening: 200m free and 1500m free heats
July 27 morning: 200m free semifinals
July 28 morning: 200m free and 1500m free finals

“But I feel prepared for it,” she said Wednesday.

ON HER TURF: Ledecky qualified for one of the toughest doubles in Olympic history

In other finals, four hundredths separated first from third in the women’s 200m individual medley. Alex Walsh and Kate Douglass, 19-year-old Virginia teammates, went one-two. Madisyn Cox, the 2017 World bronze medalist, missed out by .02.

Zach Harting, known to march out for races in a Batman costume, won the men’s 200m butterfly in 1:55.06, coming back from third at the 150-meter mark.

Gunnar Bentz, a 2016 Olympian who was at the Rio gas station with Ryan Lochte, was second after being fifth at 150. The 19-year-old Luca Urlando, the fastest American since the start of 2019, finished third, .09 behind Bentz to miss the team.

In semifinals, world champion Caeleb Dressel led the eight qualifiers into Thursday’s men’s 100m free final.

But 2012 Olympic champion Nathan Adrian, eyeing his fourth Olympics and his first since a testicular cancer diagnosis two and a half years ago, was 13th and did not advance. His second and last chance to make it to Tokyo is in the 50m free this weekend, but the 100m was his better shot.

Favorites Hali Flickinger and Regan Smith were the fastest qualifiers into Thursday’s women’s 200m fly final. Katie Drabot, who took bronze at 2019 Worlds, missed the final in 13th place.

Matt Fallon, 18, was the top qualifier into Thursday’s men’s 200m breast final. He’s followed by pre-meet favorites including 2015 World silver medalist Kevin CordesCody Miller, the Rio 100m breast bronze medalist, failed to make either breaststroke final and misses the Olympic team.

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Iga Swiatek sweeps into French Open final, where she faces a surprise


Iga Swiatek marched into the French Open final without dropping a set in six matches. All that stands between her and a third Roland Garros title is an unseeded foe.

Swiatek, the top-ranked Pole, swept 14th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia of Brazil 6-2, 7-6 (7) in Thursday’s semifinal in her toughest test all tournament. Haddad Maia squandered three break points at 4-all in the second set.

Swiatek dropped just 23 games thus far, matching her total en route to her first French Open final in 2020 (which she won for her first WTA Tour title of any kind). After her semifinal, she signed a courtside camera with the hashtag #stepbystep.

“For sure I feel like I’m a better player,” than in 2020, she said. “Mentally, tactically, physically, just having the experience, everything. So, yeah, my whole life basically.”

FRENCH OPEN DRAWS: Women | Men | Broadcast Schedule

In Saturday’s final, Swiatek gets 43rd-ranked Czech Karolina Muchova, who upset No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus to reach her first major final.

Muchova, a 26-year-old into the second week of the French Open for the first time, became the first player to take a set off the powerful Belarusian this tournament, then rallied from down 5-2 in the third set to prevail 7-6 (5), 6-7 (5), 7-5.

Sabalenka, who overcame previous erratic serving to win the Australian Open in January, had back-to-back double faults in her last service game.

“Lost my rhythm,” she said. “I wasn’t there.”

Muchova broke up what many expected would be a Sabalenka-Swiatek final, which would have been the first No. 1 vs. No. 2 match at the French Open since Serena Williams beat Maria Sharapova in the 2013 final.

Muchova is unseeded, but was considered dangerous going into the tournament.

In 2021, she beat then-No. 1 Ash Barty to make the Australian Open semifinals, then reached a career-high ranking of 19. She dropped out of the top 200 last year while struggling through injuries.

“Some doctors told me maybe you’ll not do sport anymore,” Muchova said. “It’s up and downs in life all the time. Now I’m enjoying that I’m on the upper part now.”

Muchova has won all five of her matches against players ranked in the top three. She also beat Swiatek in their lone head-to-head, but that was back in 2019 when both players were unaccomplished young pros. They have since practiced together many times.

“I really like her game, honestly,” Swiatek said. “I really respect her, and she’s I feel like a player who can do anything. She has great touch. She can also speed up the game. She plays with that kind of freedom in her movements. And she has a great technique. So I watched her matches, and I feel like I know her game pretty well.”

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Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone’s defining race; Paris Diamond League TV, live stream info

Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

For Sydney McLaughlin-Levrone, what happens in her first outdoor race of 2023 on Friday could dictate the rest of her season. It may impact her 2024 Olympic plans, too.

McLaughlin-Levrone strays from the 400m hurdles — where she is the reigning Olympic and world champion and four times broke the world record — to race her first flat 400m in two years at a Diamond League meet in Paris.

Peacock streams it live from 3-5 p.m. ET. CNBC airs coverage Saturday at 1 p.m. ET.

What we know is this: On Friday, McLaughlin-Levrone will race against the Olympic and world silver medalist in the 400m (Marileidy Paulino of the Dominican Republic) and the 2019 World champion (Salwa Eid Naser of Bahrain).

Next month, McLaughlin-Levrone will race the flat 400m at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships, the qualifying meet for August’s world championships. She is racing that flat 400m at USATF Outdoors at least in part because she already has a bye into the 400m hurdles at worlds as defending champion.

What we don’t know: which race McLaughlin-Levrone will enter at worlds. Her coach, Bobby Kersee, said last month that she will choose between the 400m and 400m hurdles for worlds, should she finish top three in the 400m at USATF Outdoors to qualify in that second event. She will not try a 400m-400m hurdles double at worlds.

McLaughlin-Levrone was asked Thursday which event she would pick if given the choice.

“Is it bad to say I don’t know?” she said in a press conference. “Honestly, ask me after tomorrow. I don’t know. I’ve got to run this one first and see how it feels.”

McLaughlin-Levrone also doesn’t know what she will try to race at the 2024 Paris Olympics. Next year, the 400m-400m hurdles double is more feasible given one could do both events without ever racing more than once per day.

“We’re still focused on 2023,” McLaughlin-Levrone said. “One step at a time, literally. Obviously that’s something as the season comes to an end we’ll kind of start to look and figure out what our plan is for next year.”

Here are the Paris entry lists. Here’s the schedule of events (all times Eastern):

12:57 p.m. ET — Women’s Shot Put
1:35 — Women’s High Jump
2:15 — Women’s Discus
2:20 — Women’s Pole Vault
3:04 — Men’s 400m Hurdles
3:15 — Women’s 800m
3:19 — Men’s Long Jump
3:24 — Women’s 5000m
3:42 — Women’s Javelin
3:52 — Men’s 110m Hurdles
4:02 — Women’s 400m
4:12 — Men’s 100m
4:22 — Women’s 200m
4:32 — Men’s 3000m Steeplechase
4:51 — Men’s 800m

Here are six events to watch:

Women’s Pole Vault — 2:20 p.m. ET
Olympic and world champion Katie Moon won the first two Diamond League meets and again faces some of her biggest domestic and international challengers in Paris. That includes fellow American Sandi Morris, who won the first three Diamond League meets last year, then took silver behind Moon at worlds on count back. Plus 34-year-old Slovenian Tina Sutej, who ranks second in the world this season.

Women’s 5000m — 3:24 p.m. ET
Includes the world record holders at 1500m (Kenyan Faith Kipyegon in her first 5000m since 2015), 3000m steeplechase (Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech) and the 5000m and 10,000m (Ethiopian Letesenbet Gidey). Plus new American 10,000m record holder Alicia Monson, who is third on the U.S. all-time 5000m list at 14:31.11. Shelby Houlihan has the American record of 14:23.92.

Men’s 110m Hurdles — 3:52 p.m. ET
The three members of the U.S. Olympic team in Tokyo — Grant HollowayDevon Allen and Daniel Roberts — could face off for the first time in nearly a year. Holloway, who has a bye into worlds as defending champion, overcame a rare defeat in the Diamond League opener in Rabat to win his last two races. He is the fastest man in the world this year at 13.01 seconds. Allen isn’t far behind at 13.12, while Roberts has yet to race the hurdles this outdoor season.

Women’s 400m — 4:02 p.m. ET
Could very well determine the favorite for worlds. Reigning Olympic and world champion Shaunae Miller-Uibo of the Bahamas is on maternity leave. Paulino is the only other woman to break 49 seconds since the start of the pandemic, and she’s done it each of the last two years. Naser is the only other active woman to have broken 49 seconds, doing so in winning the 2019 World title (before she was banned for two years, through the Tokyo Olympics, for missing drug tests). McLaughlin-Levrone’s personal best from 2018 is 50.07 seconds, but she was just 18 years old then and focusing on the hurdles. Still, that time would have won the 2022 U.S. title. Last month, University of Arkansas junior Britton Wilson ran the fastest time by an American since 2009 — 49.13 — but she might bypass the flat 400m to focus on the hurdles this summer.

Men’s 100m — 4:12 p.m. ET
Could be a meeting between the reigning Olympic men’s 100m champion (Marcell Jacobs of Italy) and world men’s 200m champion (American Noah Lyles), which hasn’t happened since the 2009 World Championships 100m final, where Usain Bolt lowered the world record to 9.58 seconds and American Tyson Gay was second in a then-American record 9.71. Later in that meet, Bolt won his first world 200m title, a crown he held concurrently with his Olympic 100m titles through his 2017 retirement. But Jacobs, citing nerve pain, scratched out of the last two Diamond League meets, which were to be showdowns with world 100m champion Fred Kerley. Jacobs did show up for Thursday’s press conference. Lyles has a bye onto the world team in the 200m, but also wants to make the four-man U.S. team in the 100m. He ranks fifth among Americans by best time this season — 9.95.

Men’s 800m — 4:51 p.m. ET
The top five from the world championships are entered, led by Olympic and world champion Emmanuel Korir of Kenya. This event was in an international doldrums for much of the time since Kenyan David Rudisha repeated as Olympic champion in 2016, then faded away from competition. But the emergence of 18-year-old Kenyan Emmanuel Wanyonyi has injected excitement this season. Wanyonyi is the world’s fastest man this year. The second-fastest, Kenyan Wycliffe Kinyamal, is also in this field.

Correction: An earlier version of this post incorrectly reported the TV window for the meet broadcast. The CNBC broadcast begins at 1 p.m. ET on Saturday, not 3.

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