Any time Katie Ledecky swims a personal best, it’s a notable accomplishment.
Ledecky, the 10-time Olympic medalist, swam the fastest 400m individual medley of her career for her third victory in as many nights at the U.S. Championships in Irvine, California, on Thursday.
She clocked 4 minutes, 35.77 seconds to prevail by .89 of a second over fellow Olympian Leah Smith. Her time would have earned bronze at the world championships last month.
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She moved from outside the top 20 to No. 14 on the U.S. all-time list, passing 1988 Olympic 400m IM champion Janet Evans and 1992 Olympic 400m IM bronze medalist Summer Sanders.
Ledecky, whose previous best was 4:37.93 from 2016, does not swim the 400m IM at major international meets.
“I’ve got a lot of meters of racing that I would like to do at the big meets, so I think adding the 400m IM is a little bit of a stretch,” said Ledecky, who swam an Olympic record 6,200 meters in Tokyo (all freestyle).
It marked her first personal best in any event in an Olympic-size pool since her most recent world record in 2018.
The previous two days in Irvine, Ledecky swam the fourth-fastest 200m free of her career and won her trademark event, the 800m free, by 19.89 seconds. She did not enter any events on the last two days Friday and Saturday.
Later Thursday, Shaine Casas won the 100m butterfly in 50.40 seconds, a time that would have earned silver at last month’s worlds.
Casas, 22, matched Ian Crocker as the sixth-fastest man in history and the third-fastest American behind world record holder Caeleb Dressel and Michael Phelps, who held the world record before Dressel. Phelps’ best in a textile suit was 50.45.
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Shaine Casas claims the national title in the men's 100m fly. #Phillips66Nats
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