Jun 29, 2016

    Ledecky wins US 400m free, heading to Rio


    FREESTYLE phenomenon Katie Ledecky is on her way to the Rio Olympics after blazing to victory in the 400m freestyle at the United States swimming trials in 3min 58.98sec.

    She was more than two seconds under the pace of the world record of 3:58.37 she set at the Pan Pacific Championships in Australia in 2014.

    She remained under world-record pace through 350m before settling for the third-fastest time in history.

    "I could tell I was tightening up a little bit but just knowing I had to get my hand to the wall pushed me through that," Ledecky said, admitting that she had trouble sleeping before her first race of the trials.

    It was the first step towards what could be an historic Rio campaign.

    Ledecky, who exploded on the international scene with an 800m free triumph in London four years ago, is entered in the trials in every freestyle event from 50m to 800m.

    Leah Smith, a relay gold medallist at last year's world championships, clung to Ledecky's heels all the way, slicing nearly three seconds off her personal best to finish second in 4:00.65.

    That makes her the fourth-fastest performer ever and promises a formidable US one-two punch in Rio.