Ledecky eas­ily wins in 400 heat

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTS -

OMAHA, Neb. — Af­ter wait­ing around a day, Katie Ledecky got in her first swim of the U.S. Olympic tri­als. It was an easy one, too.

She cruised into the 400me­ter freestyle fi­nal Mon­day, fin­ish­ing a whop­ping 0.52 of a sec­ond faster than any­one else de­spite slow­ing down over the fi­nal lap. The Mary­land teenager won her heat in 4 min­utes, 2.62 sec­onds, fin­ish­ing two body lengths ahead of the near­est com­pe­ti­tion.

“I just had to get those firstswim jit­ters out of the way,” Ledecky said. “I’ll just have to man­age the en­ergy a lit­tle bet­ter.

Ledecky dropped the 400 in­di­vid­ual med­ley from her pro­gram, leav­ing her idle on the first day of com­pe­ti­tion Sun­day.

“I was wait­ing around yes­ter­day, watch­ing all the swims and get­ting re­ally ex­cited,” she said. “It was pretty hard to fall asleep last night. I hope I can get a good nap here be­tween pre­lims and fi­nals and be back tonight for a good swim.”

Ledecky, who will en­ter Stan­ford in the fall, owns the world and Amer­i­can records in the event. She could make her sec­ond Olympic team by fin­ish­ing first or sec­ond in the evening fi­nal.

Leah Smith was sec­ond in 4:03.14. Al­li­son Sch­mitt, sil­ver medal­ist at the 2012 London Games, qual­i­fied third in 4:06.66.

In­jured Ryan Lochte ad­vanced to the 200 free semis while swim­ming in pain.

Lochte qual­i­fied fifth fastest in 1:47.77 de­spite a groin in­jury he sus­tained in the 400 IM pre­lims a day ear­lier. He failed to make the team in that event, fin­ish­ing third in the fi­nal four years af­ter win­ning gold at the London Games. Only the top two earned a berth in Rio.

“I put every­thing I could into that (last) turn, and it didn’t feel right,” he said. “But I made it back tonight, so I got a lane. You get a lane, you get a shot.”

Lochte needed a top-eight fin­ish in the evening semis to reach Tues­day’s fi­nal. He de­cided against a cor­ti­sone shot be­fore the pre­lims in fa­vor of mas­sage and stretch­ing.

“If it acts up even more later on, I’ll get it. I’m in pain. But pain is temporary,” he said be­fore smil­ing as he turned to walk away. “I guess.”

Lochte still has mul­ti­ple chances to make his fourth Olympic team and add to his haul of 11 ca­reer medals.

Swim­mers fin­ish­ing in the top four of the 100 and 200 freestyles earn a spot on the U.S. team.

Al Bello / Getty Im­ages

Katie Ledecky fin­ished two body lengths ahead of her near­est com­peti­tor in a 400-me­ter heat.

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