Los Angeles: Katie Ledecky closed out the US swimming championships on a high note on Saturday, winning the 1,500m freestyle in an impressive 15min 29.64sec to book a fourth individual event at the World Championships in Fukuoka, Japan.
Ledecky, who set the world record of 15:20.48 in the same Indianapolis Natatorium pool in 2018, posted the sixth-fastest time ever and now owns the top 15.
After checking the scoreboard, the seven-time Olympic gold medallist pounded the water in delight, having cleared the taste of a dissatisfying time in her 400m free win on Friday.
“It’s amazing what a morning off can do,” Ledecky beamed. I just wanted to finish on a good note.
“I really don’t like ending a meet with a bad swim so I just really wanted to have a great swim tonight.
“I think that’s the first time I’ve been under 15:30 since the pandemic, so I’m really happy with that,” she added.
19 world titles
Katie Grimes, winner of the 400m individual medley, booked another World Championships event with a distant runner-up finish in 15:58.34.
Ledecky, who also owns 19 world titles, bookended her meet with two strong performances in her longest events, starting with the 800m free on Tuesday.
In between she settled for second in the 200m free behind teenager Claire Weinstein and won the 400m free in a, for her, pedestrian 4:00.45 - leaving her work to do to challenge world record-holder Summer McIntosh of Canada and Australian Olympic gold medallist Ariarne Titmus in Fukuoka next month.
The 26-year-old, now training in Florida with coach Anthony Nesty, appears up for that challenge and more.
“There’s a lot more to come,” she said.
Douglass claims 2nd title
Kate Douglass claimed her second title of the meet with an impressive 200m individual medley win in 2:07.09 - second-fastest in the world this year behind McIntosh’s 2:06.89.
Alex Walsh was second in 2:07.89.
Carson Foster, silver medallist at last year’s World Championships in Budapest, won the men’s 200m medley in 1:56.19.
Shaine Casas, who the eighth and last qualifier for the final, grabbed second in 1:57.47 to earn a World Championships berth.
Bobby Finke, winner of 1,500m and 800m freestyle gold at the Tokyo Olympics, completed a distance free double with a win in the 800m in 7:40.34. Dant Ross was second in 7:48.10.
At the other end of the distance spectrum, veteran Abbey Weitzeil won the women’s 50m free in 24.00sec and Ryan Held won the men’s 50 free in 21.50.
Caeleb Dressel, whose five gold medals at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021 included the 50m free, failed to qualify for the final, missing out on his last chance to make the Fukuoka team as he works through the early stages of a comeback after months away from the sport.