Swimming-Ledecky triumphs again at U.S. Olympic trials


FILE PHOTO: Jun 15, 2024; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Katie Ledecky competes 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/File Photo

INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) -Seven-time Olympic gold medallist Katie Ledecky stormed to victory in the 200m freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic trials in Indianapolis on Monday, while Katie Grimes outdueled Emma Weyant to win a thrilling 400m individual medley.

Ledecky had already qualified for the Paris Games in the 400m freestyle at the trials, which are being held at Lucas Oil Stadium, home of the NFL's Indianapolis Colts.

Ledecky came home in 1:55.22 ahead of Claire Weinstein, Paige Madden and Erin Gemmell, who will join the 27-year-old on the relay team.

"We're going to get together over the next couple weeks and put together a great showing," said Ledecky.

"Hopefully there are a lot of young girls out there who want to be on this relay one day."

In the women's 400m IM, Grimes got off to a hot start before reigning Olympic silver medallist Weyant made her move as the thousands of swimming fans on hand roared.

Grimes, 18, managed to fend off Weyant and Lilla Bognar to touch the wall first with a time of 4:35.00 in the gruelling event.

"I knew that my backstroke was fine and when I turned at the wall for the breaststroke I just said, 'don't look back, don't look to the side,'" she said.

"I knew that as long as I touched the wall at the same time as Emma I would be able to stick in there with her, so I was just trying to finish."

Grimes, who was the youngest member of the U.S. team at the Tokyo Games, has already qualified for the Paris Games in open water swimming and now also has a place in the pool.

Four-times Olympic gold medallist Ryan Murphy punched his ticket to his third Games with victory in the men's 100m backstroke where he edged Hunter Armstrong, who is also likely to qualify.

Murphy won the final with a time of 52.22, half a second faster than world champion Armstrong, and the backstroke specialist will look to improve on his bronze medal performance in Tokyo when he arrives in Paris.

Murphy, 28, said he is having more fun than ever in the sport.

"I enjoy it a little bit more than I used to," he said.

"I used to feel like I was going to throw up before every race."

SWIMMING STATE

Indiana native Lilly King won the women's 100m breaststroke with a time of 1:05.43, outpacing second-place finisher Emma Weber with Tokyo gold medallist Lydia Jacoby a disappointing third.

While soaking in the adoration of the crowd, King said her state has a huge fanbase for the sport.

"We love swimming here - we're a swimming state," said two-time Olympic gold medallist King, who will be appearing in her third, and what she says final, Games.

"We're really proud of that and I'm glad I get to represent us."

Luke Hobson will compete in the individual 200m freestyle on his Olympic debut after his victory in the final, where he posted a time of 1:44.89.

Chris Guiliano was the surprise second-place finisher from the outside lane and will likely join Hobson in the event.

Drew Kibler and Kieran Smith rounded out the top four finishers and will join Hobson and Guiliano on the relay team.

The crowd saved one of its biggest roars of the night for Regan Smith, who broke her own U.S. record in the 100m backstroke semi-finals.

Touching in 57.47, the three-time Olympic medallist and former world record holder bettered her mark of 57.51 set in May.

Smith's new U.S. mark was tied for third on the all-time list with Kaylee McKeown of Australia, who also set the world record of 57.33 last year.

Should Smith go on to qualify in the event for the Olympics the 22-year-old's showdown with McKeown would be one of the highlights of the Paris pool.

The trials are being held for the first time inside of an NFL stadium that has been transformed into the world's largest indoor swimming venue.

It has already set the record for the largest audience to witness a swim meet.

(Reporting by Rory Carroll; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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