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Katie Ledecky wins by 21 seconds to open first full swim meet in one year

Katie Ledecky

DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 05: Katie Ledecky celebrates after winning the Women’s 400m Final on Day Two of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Des Moines on March 05, 2020 at the MidAmerican Energy Aquatic Center at the Wellmark YMCA in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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Katie Ledecky said the one-year break between full-on swim meets didn’t impact her goals for the Tokyo Olympics. She backed up that statement on Wednesday.

Ledecky, in her first broadcasted race since last March, crushed most of the other top U.S. 1500m freestylers, prevailing by 21.37 seconds to open a four-day Pro Series meet in San Antonio.

“I didn’t set too many expectations coming into this first race,” she said. “I knew getting the first race out of the way would kind of be a milestone in this journey back into real racing.”

Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history in the event, clocked 15 minutes, 42.92 seconds. She is the overwhelming favorite in the 1500m free this summer, when it’s on the Olympic program for the first time as a women’s event.

Her world record is 15:20.48. The second-fastest swimmer in history, retired Dane Lotte Friis, had a best time of 15:38.88.

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Ledecky lost one 1500m freestyle in her life -- when she was 13 years old in 2010. She also withdrew ahead of the event final at the 2019 World Championships with an illness. Italian Simona Quadarella went on to win in 15:40.89.

Ashley Twichell, who in 2019 made the Tokyo Olympic team in the open-water 10km, was second on Wednesday, followed by Erica Sullivan. They came into the meet ranked second and third among Americans since the start of 2019.

Ledecky and Stanford training group partner Simone Manuel are racing in their first top-level meet since last March.

They spent last spring training in at least one backyard pool, then passed on meets last fall and earlier this winter while getting back into more normal practice. They did race within their group and against those who train at nearby Berkeley.

The San Antonio meet also includes Caeleb Dressel, Ryan Murphy, Ryan Lochte and Regan Smith as swimmers prep for June’s Olympic Trials, where the top two per individual event are in line to qualify for the Tokyo Games.

The San Antonio meet continues the next three nights at 8 ET on Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA and streaming on and the NBC Sports app.

Ledecky is entered in her other best events -- the 400m, 200m and 800m frees -- the next three days.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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