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Katie Ledecky Pulls Away to Win Women's 200M Freestyle at 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured Columnist IVJune 17, 2021

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Was there ever any doubt?

Katie Ledecky smashed the field in the 200m freestyle at the U.S. Olympics Team Trials on Wednesday night, winning the event going away. 

#TokyoOlympics @NBCOlympics

.@arschmitty takes second to secure her spot to become a 4️⃣-time Olympian!@USASwimming | #SwimTrials21 x #TokyoOlympics pic.twitter.com/7iTDbRU10g

The five-time gold medalist topped the field with a time of 1:55.11, followed by Allison Schmitt (1:56.79), Paige Madden (1:56.80) and Katie McLaughlin (1:57.16). All four qualified for the Tokyo Games and will join Team USA at the event. 

It will be Schmitt's fourth Olympics, a remarkable feat.

Ledecky, meanwhile, will be heading to her third Olympics. She already qualified for the Tokyo Games two days ago in the 400-meter freestyle, an event where she holds the world record (3:56.46).

Ledecky is also attempting to qualify for the Tokyo Games in the 1500m freestyle, with that final later on Wednesday night, and the 800m freestyle. And she almost assuredly be on the 4x200m freestyle relay team.

Ledecky is the defending gold medalist in the 200m, 400m and 800m races, so her win on Wednesday night didn't come as much of a surprise. She has a chance to become the most successful female Olympian in history at the Tokyo Games as she chases Soviet Union gymnast Larisa Latynina, who holds the record with nine gold medals.

She'll have a battle on her hands at this summer's Olympics, however, with Australia's Ariarne Titmus emerging as a star.

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Tim Layden @ByTimLayden

Big night for Ledecky tonight at Swim Trials. Possible minority view here, but the potential for tough battles -- and possible defeats -- vs Ariarne Titmus (AUS) makes the Ledecky narrative 100x more compelling than a series of mortal lock walkovers.

Titmus' qualifying time of 1:53.09 at her time trials was nearly a second better than anything Ledecky has mustered this season and just 0.11 seconds behind Federica Pellegrini's world record of 1:52.98 set in 2009.

"It's pretty crazy. That record is very old and no one really has been close to breaking it in a long time," the 20-year-old told reporters. "I knew that tonight if I swam the way that I wanted to race I had a 1:53 in me. I was pretty nervous, but last night's (400m) swim gave me confidence."

A Ledecky-Titmus showdown is on the horizon. The defending gold medalist will have her hands full. 

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