Katie Ledecky, 24, qualified for her third Olympic team by taking the lead in the women’s 400 freestyle and never relinquishing it, winning in 4:01.27.
Ledecky’s time was hardly overwhelming – it was nearly five seconds slower than her world record of 3:56.46 and well behind the time swum by rival Ariarne Titmus at the Australian Olympic trials (3:56.90) – but it was more than good enough to win the first of what are expected to be several Olympic berths for her at these trials.
“Yeah I thought it was a lot faster than that, so I was little surprised by the time," Ledecky said during an NBC interview when asked to assess her race. "Again it’s pretty tough for the first race here, I always remember five years ago it was not a fun race. It’s just good to check the box and hopefully have some good swims the rest of the week.”
Paige Madden, 22, of the University of Virginia, finished second in 4:04.86.
Ledecky has been the world-record holder in this event for nearly seven years, and lowered it to its current time at the Rio Olympics. She is a three-time world champion in the 400 and won the 2019 world silver medal while battling a stomach ailment.
Ledecky has won five Olympic gold medals and 15 world championship titles, more than any woman in swimming history.
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