After a four-month break from racing and a cross-country move, Katie Ledecky still looked like Katie Ledecky.
The 10-time Olympic medalist won her first race since the Tokyo Games, taking her trademark 800m freestyle by nearly 11 seconds at the U.S. Open in Greensboro, N.C., on Wednesday night.
Ledecky clocked 8:12.81, just .24 off her golden time from Tokyo, to distance a field that included two-time Olympic medalist Leah Smith.
Ledecky’s swim slots in as the 18th-fastest in history and the fastest ever swum in the fall. She owns the 24 best times in history, led by the world record 8:04.79 from the 2016 Olympics. She last lost an 800m free in 2010, when she was 13 years old.
Also Wednesday, fellow Olympic distance champ Bobby Finke won the men’s 800m free in 7:54.07, coming from behind in the last lap just as he did in Tokyo.
Ledecky and Finke are now training partners at the University of Florida after Ledecky moved from Stanford.
“I’m excited about the new quad — feeling really good about my new training environment and getting to train with some really great mid-distance and distance swimmers that are racing tonight,” Ledecky said, according to USA Swimming. “I’m just happy to start seeing the work pay off.”
Ledecky is entered in all of her Olympic races at the U.S. Open, which runs through Saturday.
Swimmers are preparing for the world championships team trials in April, also in Greensboro.
World championships (in Olympic-size pools) are normally reserved for odd years, but the 2021 Worlds in Fukuoka, Japan, were postponed one year after the Tokyo Games were pushed back from 2020.
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