Swimming-Fire still burns for Ledecky as she makes fourth Olympics

Jun 15, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Katie Ledecky commands a three second lead while competing in the women's 400 meter freestyle swim on Saturday, June 15, 2024, during prelims for the Olympic Swimming Trials at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Mandatory Credit: Grace Hollars-USA Today Network

INDIANAPOLIS, Indiana (Reuters) - When Katie Ledecky burst onto the swimming scene at 15 years old by winning gold at the London Olympics in 2012, she vowed to return to the sport's biggest stage to ensure no one thought it was a fluke.

That idea seems laughable now but the seven-time gold medalist and greatest female swimmer of all time said she still has that mindset.

"After London I wanted to get back to that level to prove that I wasn't a one-hit wonder," she told reporters after winning the 400 metres freestyle at the U.S. trials on Saturday to book her ticket to her fourth Games, in Paris.

"But at the same time I reminded myself that anything more than that is just icing on the cake, cherry on top, because I never thought I'd make it to that first Olympics.

"That's the perspective I've been able to maintain and it keeps me focused and makes me enjoy the sport so much, enjoy my team mates and the people that are around me."

Ledecky was the star of the opening night of the trials and a big reason why more than 20,000 fans showed up at Lucas Oil Field, home to the NFL's Indianapolis Colts, setting a record for attendance at a swim meet.

The crowd was so amped up for Ledecky that she had to work to keep her composure.

"I got up on the blocks and for my heat and I thought that the noise had died down and then it got louder again," she told reporters about her first time racing in the temporary pool.

"I started shaking and I went down for take your mark and I was like, 'Relax Katie, relax. Don't false start, don't false start, don't false start.'

"It was an energy that I hadn't felt at this kind of a meet or even an international meet before.

"I hope it moves our sport forward. I hope there are some young swimmers out there that get excited about today and will be at a trails four years from now or at the (2028) Olympics in LA and beyond that."

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by William Mallard)

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