Katie Ledecky is used to defeating her competition and not winning with hundredths, but with full seconds. Usually a lot of them. So when the world's dominant distance swimmer walks slower than expected, it's a shock. Especially you.
Katie Ledecky is used to slaying her competition, winning not by hundredths but by full seconds. Usually lots of 'em.
So when the world's dominant female distance swimmer goes slower than expected, it's a shock. Especially to her.
That's what happened in the 400-metre freestyle at the US Olympic trials this week. Taking notice was Ariarne Titmus. Ledecky faces potentially tough challenges â and possible defeats â by the Australian at next month's Tokyo Olympics.
Titmus fired the first shot, clocking a winning time of 3 minutes, 56.90 seconds at the Australian trials. It was the second fastest in history and just off Ledecky's world record of 3:56.46 set five years ago in Rio de Janeiro.
Ledecky's response was, well, less than intimidating. She surprised even herself by going 4:01.27.
"I felt like I would be faster than that," she said. "I was a lot more nervous than I expected to be. I just wanted to get the race over with and get to that wall and punch my ticket."
Later that night, Ledecky returned to her Omaha hotel room to reunite with her immediate family for the first time since Christmas 2019, months before the coronavirus pandemic shut down the world.
"I started crying, they started crying," she said. "Just so nice to be back with them. We've all been through so much over the past year, and I think you kind of take things for granted."
Ledecky's greatness has been assumed since the 2012 London Games, where she won a surprise gold in the 800 free at age 15. Four years later, she left Rio de Janeiro as the most decorated female athlete of the games with four golds, one silver and two world records.
"It's pretty remarkable for her to continue doing what she's doing knowing that she was an Olympic champion at 15, and she's still arguably the best swimm ...