Katie Ledecky expects to add 100m freestyle to Olympic trials lineup
NEW YORK — Katie Ledecky expects to add the 100m freestyle to her already heavy Olympic trials lineup in Omaha, Neb., from June 26 through July 3.
Ledecky, the World champion in the 200m, 400m, 800m and (non-Olympic event) 1500m freestyles, may swim the 400m individual medley at trials, too.
One U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics -- Shirley Babashoff in 1976.
Swimming those four events at the trials is also rare. Ledecky spoke about her possible Olympic trials slate while at Rockefeller Plaza for an appearance on TODAY on Thursday, following her historic World Championships sweep earlier this month.
“I still have to figure out my schedule with [coach] Bruce [Gemmell],” the Bethesda, Md., native told OlympicTalk. “It’s a nice option to have. I’ll probably swim the 100 [freestyle] for sure. We’ll see how that goes. The 400m IM is on the first day. I don’t have any other races that day, so it’s something that I might do to have one event out of the way and just to have a race under my belt. The next day I can really focus in on the 400m free. We’ll see.”
Ledecky is a heavy favorite to finish in the top two in the 200m, 400m and 800m frees at the trials to make the Olympic team (and the 4x200m free relay for her fourth Olympic event).
She would have a better chance in the 100m free than the 400m IM to make the Olympic team in a fifth event, given USA Swimming could take the top six 100m free swimmers to Rio for the 4x100m free relay versus the top two for the 400m IM and all individual events.
Ledecky’s personal best in the 100m free -- 54.55 clocked on Jan. 15 -- ranks her No. 42 in the world this year and No. 9 among Americans. That 54.55 came at a time of the year when swimmers aren’t peaked, and even though Ledecky swam slower 100m frees in April and June, there’s reason to believe she can be faster with a little more sprint training.
Adding the 400m IM isn’t a huge stretch – once or twice per week her practices are individual medley-based, to break up the monotony and work on each muscle group. It’s something that U.S. national team director Frank Busch has his eye on.
Ledecky’s personal best in the 400m IM is 4:41.70, which ranks No. 32 in the world this year and No. 9 among Americans. She rarely races it.
“I’d like to see her swim the 400m IM or the 200m butterfly because she’d probably do pretty good,” Busch told The New York Times.
Gemmell has already said the next piece of the race puzzle to improve is the turns.
“I still have a lot to work on for my turns,” Ledecky said. “Those are important things during short races. That would be helpful. And they add up a lot in the longer races. If I improve those, that could be really big.”
But Ledecky, whose dominance is greater at longer distances, shrugged off any mention of the open-water 10km event – a race that doesn’t have any wall turns.
“Oh no, I’m not really interested right now in going into open water,” she said. “One of my teammates, [2012 Olympian] Andrew Gemmell does open water. I really respect those swimmers. [It’s a] pretty long race.”
The Stanford commit will be very busy at the Olympic trials, whether or not she adds the 100m free or 400m IM.
If Ledecky chooses not to swim the 100m free at trials, she gains a rest day between the 800m preliminary heats and the 800m final.
Not that she particularly needs the break. Ledecky is the reigning Olympic champion in the 800m free, her only event in 2012 as a 15-year-old, and is 16.74 seconds faster than the No. 2 American this year.
Here’s a sample Ledecky Olympic trials schedule:
Day 1 Morning: 400m IM prelim
Day 1 Evening: 400m IM final
Day 2 Morning: 400m free prelim
Day 2 Evening: 400m free final
Day 3 Morning: 200m free prelim
Day 3 Evening: 200m free semifinal
Day 4 Morning: Off
Day 4 Evening: 200m free final
Day 5 Morning: 100m free prelim
Day 5 Evening: 100m free semifinal
Day 6 Morning: 800m free prelim
Day 6 Evening: 100m free final
Day 7 Morning: Off
Day 7 Evening: 800m free final
Day 8 Morning: Off
Day 8 Evening: Off
*Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated no U.S. woman has swum the 100m, 200m, 400m and 800m freestyles at one Olympics.