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Katie Ledecky wins by 46 seconds in first race of Olympic year

TYR Pro Swim Series at Des Moines

DES MOINES, IOWA - MARCH 04: Katie Ledecky prepares to compete in the Women’s 1500 m Freestyle on Day One of the TYR Pro Swim Series at Des Moines on March 04, 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 added to her distance legend by winning a 1500m freestyle by 46.83 seconds to kick off the Olympic year and a Tyr Pro Swim Series meet in Des Moines on Wednesday.

Ledecky, who owns the 10 fastest times in history in the new Olympic event, clocked 15:29.51, the fifth-fastest ever. Leah Smith, an Olympic or world medalist at 400m and 800m, was second in 16:16.34. The full race video is here.

The meet continues through Saturday (TV schedule here), though the focus remains on June’s Olympic Trials and the Tokyo Games in July and August.

“It’s March -- we don’t gear up for this meet in any special way,” Ledecky said, according to the Washington Post, while also noting she went six seconds faster than her 2019 world-leading time from the U.S. Open in December.

She withdrew before the 1500m final at last summer’s world championships, spending seven hours in a local emergency room with what she believed was a stomach virus.

Ledecky, undefeated at 800m and 1500m since winning the 2012 Olympic 800m free at age 15, is bidding to swim the 200m, 400m, 800m and 1500m frees in Tokyo, plus the 4x200m free relay.

She was on the silver-medal 4x100m free in Rio but was not part of that relay at the biggest meets of 2018 or 2019 and isn’t expected to be in Tokyo. The addition of the 1500m to the Olympic program made it a more of a stretch to train for the sprint-like 100m.

No U.S. woman has earned five gold medals at a single Games, though fellow former Stanford swim star Simone Manuel could also achieve the feat this summer.

Ledecky earned four golds in Rio, becoming the second woman to sweep the 200m, 400m and 800m frees at a single Games. The men’s 800m free makes its Olympic debut in Tokyo.

“I’m training right now just as well or better than I was in Rio,” Ledecky said before this week’s meet, according to the Post. “I feel like whenever I can do things in training that I’ve never done before, that I’m in a good place.”

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