Katie Ledecky Wins Women’s 1500m Freestyle to Qualify for 2021 Tokyo Olympics

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AP Photo/Jeff Roberson

Before Wednesday night, there had never been a 1,500-meter women’s freestyle final at the U.S. Olympic Trials. Of course, Katie Ledecky made history.

The five-time gold medalist, who won the 200-meter freestyle event little more than an hour before heading back to the deck for the 1,500-meter, bested the field with a time of 15 minutes, 40.50 seconds to qualify to represent the U.S. in Tokyo when the event is held at the Olympics for the first time this summer.

Her finish was the fastest time in the world this year. 

She was far in front of Erica Sullivan, who finished 15:51.18, a personal best. 

The finish was no surprise as Ledecky holds the top 10 times in the event. Her best time in the event in 2021 was 15:40.55, but she previously flew to a 15:29.51 finish last year—roughly nine seconds off her world record time from 2018. 

But this victory was perhaps even more impressive as it came so soon after her 200-meter freestyle win: 

In addition to the 200-meter freestyle, Ledecky had already qualified for Tokyo in the 400-meter free, an event that she holds the world record for with a time of 3:56.46. 

Later this week, she will try to qualify for the 800-meter freestyle and as a member of the 4×200-meter freestyle relay team.

The defending gold medalist in the 200-meter, 400-meter and 800-meter events, she’ll look to add a brand new event to her repertoire in Tokyo. She didn’t race the event at the 2019 Worlds, where Italian star Simona Quadarella finished in 15:40.89.

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