Katie Ledecky qualifies for fourth Olympics; Gretchen Walsh sets world mark in 100 butterfly

Katie Ledecky

INDIANAPOLIS — Swimmer Katie Ledecky is heading to her fourth Olympic Games after securing victory in the 400-meter freestyle at the U.S. swimming trials Saturday night.

Ledecky, 27, captured first place in the women’s 400-meter freestyle final in minutes, 58.35 seconds, ESPN reported.

The event was held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, home of the NFL’s Colts.

Ledecky is swimming in four freestyle events at the trial, according to ESPN. Her seven medals include six individual golds, the most of any woman in Olympic history.

“I’m pretty excited,” Ledecky said after the victory ceremony. “I never imagined I would go to a fourth Olympic Games.”

Ledecky is also scheduled to compete in the 200 free to sharpen her relay skills, and in the 800 free and 1,500 free, The Athletic reported. She is the current world record holder in the 800 and 1,500 events.

The top two finishers in each event at U.S. Olympic swimming trials qualify for Paris, The Athletic reported. Paige Madden (4:02.08) finished second in the 400-meter event, according to The Washington Post.

Walsh, 21, finished the 100 butterfly 55.18 seconds in a semifinal heat. She broke the previous record of 55.48 set at the 2016 Olympics by Sweden’s Sarah Sjöström, ESPN reported.

“I definitely was feeling it,” Walsh said after her record-breaking race. “I thought I was dying. I didn’t know I was going that fast and apparently, I took it out too fast.”

Walsh, who attends the University of Virginia, had a 55.94 mark in the preliminary round to qualify for the semifinals. Then she left her competitors behind with her record-breaking performance, USA Today reported.

“I didn’t think I was going to do it tonight,” Walsh said. “I just knew that I wanted to go a best time, and now, here I am, world record holder. It’s actually insane.

“I think I was probably the most shocked of all the people I know. I think that they all had confidence in me. … I was absolutely in awe. Totally surprised.”

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