Katie Ledecky joined an elite club on Tuesday night, earning her sixth trip to the world championships with a dominating victory in the 800-meter freestyle at the US national championships.
Ledecky was under his own world record pace for much of the race before settling for victory in 8 minutes, 7.07 seconds, his third fastest time in the grueling event, which he has dominated during his long career with the 30 fastest times. in history.
She was clearly pleased with the performance, flashing a thumbs up and shaking her head defiantly as she turned and saw the time.
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Ledecky will head to Fukuoka, Japan next month as the sixth American swimmer to reach the world championships for the sixth time, joining Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Natalie Coughlin, Elizabeth Beisel and Nathan Adrian.
No one else was even close to Ledecky. When he touched the wall, the closest swimmer was more than half a turn behind.
Seventeen-year-old Jillian Cox claimed second place on the world team in a huge upset. She finished in 8:20.28, more than 13 seconds behind the winner.
Ledecky didn’t seem the least bit surprised by the performance, which was her fastest since the world record of 8:04.79 she set at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games.
Next month in Fukuoka, Ledecky will attempt to become the first swimmer to win the same event at six world championships. She is already the first to claim five consecutive titles, having started her 800-win streak a decade ago at the world championships in Barcelona.
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«I’ve been feeling good,» Ledecky said. «I thought it would be pretty good tonight. I wasn’t expecting a world record or anything. But I felt like I could at least be what I was last summer at worlds (when he won his fifth straight 800 title in 8:08.04). I’m very happy with that. And very happy with how it felt, too.»
At 26, Ledecky shows no signs of slowing down, even though she’s been on top of the world in freestyle swimming since her stunning gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.
Next summer in Paris, she is expected to add to an impressive seven gold and three silver medals in the last three Olympic Games. His medal record at the World Cups is downright astounding: 19 gold medals and three silvers.
Ledecky seems rejuvenated by her move to Florida after the Tokyo Olympics to join a training group led by trainer Anthony Nesty.
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«The training has been great. Just every day, working and doing a very good job,» he said. «Of course, there are ups and downs and days that worry you a bit. But Coach Nesty always knows how to calm me down.»
In other finals on the first night of nationals:
— Defending Olympic champion Bobby Finke broke a nearly 15-year-old US Open record with a winning time of 14:42.81 in the men’s 1500 freestyle. Charlie Clark claimed second place for Fukuoka in 14:50.84.
— Regan Smith took victory in the women’s 200 fly in 2:05.79, and her Sun Devil Swimming teammate Lindsay Looney also earned a trip to the worlds in 2:07.35.
— Carson Foster claimed the men’s 200 fly title in 1:54.32, while 16-year-old Thomas Heilman established himself as a rising star in an event Michael Phelps long dominated by taking second place in 1:54.54 .
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—- Olympic medalists Kate Douglass and Abbey Weitzeil finished 1-2 in the women’s 100 freestyle to score their tickets to Fukuoka. Douglass won with a time of 52.57, followed by Weitzeil in 53.11.
— After defending Olympic champion Caeleb Dressel failed in the preliminaries of the men’s 100 freestyle, the finals were wide open. Jack Alexy took the title in 47.93, while Chris Giuliano surprisingly claimed second place worldwide from lane one in 47.98.